Discovering Shenzhen’s Beauty
Discovering Shenzhen’s Beauty
LI Xiaogan, Head of Shenzhen Tourism Bureau
Twenty or thirty years ago, many Hong Kong people and foreigners, if to see Shenzhen, would overlook it by standing on a mountaintop in Lok Ma Chau of New Territories. What they saw through the mangrove woods of Shenzhen Bay, were repeated plots of wild grasses, dispersed fish ponds, uncultivated fields and frontier defense sentries, with the water birds on the Shenzhen River singing the tunes unchanged for thousands of years.
Today, when together with tourists coming from all over the world, they are edging personally in streams of people on Shenzhen’s streets, they will be overwhelmed by an enthusiasm both bodily and mentally. This city, ever with more than 6000 years of human activity history, above1700 years of prefecture/county history, more than 600 years of Nantou Town and Dapeng Town history, above 300 years of Hakka immigration history, and nearly 30 years of Special Economical Zone development history, is undergoing enormous changes, and also the hues and timbres of the city appear florid and abundant. Shenzhen now is no longer like a Chinese 2-string fiddle mildly and grievously beautiful, but rather like a sprightly and sonorous piano at some time and mellifluous and melodious violin ……..
Huanggang Checkpoint that connects Shenzhen and Hong Kong has a huge propagating advertisement impressively standing at the entrance, reading “Shenzhen Tourism – near at hand, far exceeds imagination.” This propagating sentence is obviously for the Hong Kong people only one river apart. In fact, either hasty passers by this city who throw a quick glance or busy residents of this homeland who have the bewilderment of inability to see the true features because personally inside the city, to discover Shenzhen’s beauty and to experience it charms need both the eye and the soul.
Shenzhen is not large, with an area of 1953 km2 and 7 districts municipally governed, her space is not as big as the neighboring Huizhou (the area 11300 km2) which lies to its northeast, nor equal to the neighbor Dongguan (the area 2465km2) to her northwest, nor equal to her brother city Guangzhou (the area 7434.4 km2). If you tour Shenzhen, there are no sufferings of vessel or vehicle exhaustion and trudge, and within one hour of drive, you can move about freely and quickly. Yet Shenzhen is the “window”, “experimental field” and “demonstration city” of China’s reform and opening-up and modernization construction, “desirous of seeing wonderful white billows surge against the sky, you should have the courage to open your window and let the great river in”. Shenzhen is also a marvel of industrialization and modernization in the world’s urban development history, it has become a modern metropolis from a small frontier town within less than 30 years. This city, with a population of 12 million gathered, has had its per capita GDP exceeding 10 thousand US dollars in the lead in China’s inland, and has its GDP outputted per square kilometer reaching RMB 346 million yuan, the general budget revenue created within one year RMB 65.8 billion yuan, more than RMB 200 billion yuan transferred up to the central authorities. From this point of view, “Small is beauty” as said by Singaporean Senior Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is just a good maxim. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew also said one sentence in the same year: “Shenzhen is a medal on China’s chest.” Therefore, for many years the biggest “selling point” of Shenzhen tourism is the legend of this city emerging. Climbing onto the circling palace of Guomao Building to overlook the magnificent buildings and thoroughfares was once a hot route for tourists; ascending upon the top floor of Diwang Building to overlook the tremendous changes on both shores of Shenzhen River from the viewing platform is still one fashion for visitors. Two years ago, Shenzhen held a “Symposium of International Tourism Cities Under An Internationalized View”, the tourism expert Mr.Sotida from Hamburg of Germany, once the president of Federal Republic of Germany Geography Association, yet after having arrived in Shenzhen he did not admire any landscapes and famous resorts, nor toured any sight spots or scenic spots, but hired a “taxi” to go for a drive along Shennan Avenue and Binhai Avenue, and further to Dongmen old streets for a half-a-day tour, he even unbelievably knocked open the door of one folk household near Guiyuan Road and, drinking a cup of Puer Tea (a tea produced in Yunnan Province) – the “Chinese coffee” as called by him – he chatted with an old teacher retired home by repeated gesticulations.
Speaking of Shenzhen’s tourism, of course there are numerous “theme parks” famous both in China and overseas, because Shenzhen’s theme parks are not only multitudinous but also excellent, they take the lead in China’s theme parks, some people even entitle Shenzhen the “Capital of Thematic Parks” as a good fame. Whether it is the Window of the World of “You give me one day, and I will give one world” or the Splendid China Folk Culture Village of “Walking into the history by one step, and traveling all around China by one day”; whether it is the happy valley of “prosperous bustling urban happy land” or Minsk Aircraft Carrier bearing glory and dreams, all of them are not only a series of wonderful exhibitions, but also one vivid miniature after another of blend of the Chinese culture with the world civilization. A tour of Shenzhen’s thematic parks should not miss several large-scale literary performances there – the music epic Distinguished and Admirable Heroes of Bygone Years in the Window of the World, the singing and dancing pageant Dragons and Phoenixes Dancing in China in the China Folk Culture Village, and the urban melodrama Unlimited Gladness in the Happy Valley, all of them are the places where these thematic parks have their spirits and beauties.
Shenzhen has a long and narrow strip-shaped terrain, with one end being Shenzhen Bay and the other Dapeng Bay, here are the daughters of the sea, the stories of the sea and the dreams of the sea. Along Shenzhen Bay in the west, from the mangrove forest nature reserve to the sea-front recreation strip of 15 km of Nanshan, further to Chiwan Old Battery, looking at the lonely sea to the south, you would no longer sigh for any loneliness. Walking to the east from “Chung Ying (Zhongying) Street” in the east, the enchanting beautiful beaches of Dameisha and Xiaomeisha, the blue charm of Sea World, and the water-loving life of Dapeng Peninsula, all would make people willing to be seaside residents for long. Dapeng Peninsula has once been appraised one of “China’s Eight Main Most Beautiful Shorelines” by the China Geography Magazine, traversing under the first gleam of sunshine from Dongchong to Xichong of Nanao is the route that makes Shenzhen’s “donkey friends” become slaves of pleasures. At present, Dapeng Peninsula is already appointed by Shenzhen Municipal Government as a recreational-tourism holiday beach resort, with the tourism planning and development being in an orderly progress, and there will occur a vacation paradise between the sea and hills.
To realize only one person’s individuality, we still need a gradually advancing period; then to appreciate a city’s charms, of course we even more need a thorough-searching process. Beauty, sometimes comes in front of our face in an instant of a foot lifting and head raising or a sudden glance back, whereas sometimes it is necessary to discover it by traveling far and wide in an arduous search. According to my knowledge, up to now Shenzhen’s tourism images in the eyes of many domestic and foreign tourists are still only those skyrocketing high buildings, roundly flying and shuttling roller coasters, and pageants of fashionably dressed men and women. In fact, just as Shenzhen’s beach tourism can let people be stirred up emotionally, Shenzhen’s natural eco-tourism also has a refreshing novel charm. Just between the sea and hills of Sanzhoutian, Yantian District, Shenzhen, China’s first “National Level Eco-tourism Demonstration Region”, the east Chinese Overseas Town emerged steadily in the summer of 2007, this tablet was awarded by the National Tourism Bureau and National Environment Protection Bureau, and the three big scenic spots of “Grand Canyon”, “Sea of Clouds” and “Tea Brook Valley” were gradually constructed on the green mountains and emerald waters of nearly 9 km2, whether it is the feeling of a supernatural being on the plank road built along the cliff face with flourishing woods and dense bamboos in the Ancient Tea Town, or the happiness and satisfaction with oneself in the garden full of blossoms in the marsh park; and whether it is to overlook the grand mountainous and maritime landscape from within a cloudy tribe, or to experience the surrounding clouds and mists in the landmark court field, people will be moved by all Nature and beauty, Nature and human beings, Nature and city there. Xianhu Arboretum is also a good place to go that I here sincerely recommend, therein are the gardens of 12 categories of plants, especially the Shady Growth Arboretum, Cycads Garden and Fossils Forest are most worthy of a sight enjoyment. Standing in the Wonderful Scenery Viewing Pavilion where winds come from all directions, you have 900m-height Wutong Mountain in front of you highest in the Pearl River Delta, what the chain of mountains embrace is Hong Fa Temple with the shining golden top; with the sight sloping down, you have a view of lush jungles, verdure shrubs and the grassland like a boundless soft carpet; when coming near, you can see sparkling wavy Xianhu Lake widen and stretch softly, the lake water is as pure and clean as the green jade in the world, yet several light boats make this Buddhist environment become vivid ……. Though Shenzhen does not have such famous mountains and great rivers as Huangshan Mountain and Zhangjiajie, the subtropical warm and humid maritime climate brings along four evergreen seasons and the annual mean temperature of 22.3℃ to this land, and the terrain full of hills and waters still create numerous wonders and elegances of natural ecology. A wise man loves the sea and a kind man loves mountains, the Mangrove Forest Nature Reserve, Evergreen World, Western Rural Scenery, Guangming Farm and even Wutong Mountain, Qiniang Mountain and Huanghuang Mountain etc of Shenzhen will also let people feel the serene aspect of this dinning city.
The modern tourism has already exceeded the visual aesthetic stage of sightseeing scenery watching, tourism gradually highlights its experience quality, the pleasant place of a journey has even upgraded to the broader scope of delicious foods enjoyment. In this respect, Shenzhen is never disappointing. Shenzhen is a city of immigrants, nowadays “Shenzhen people” include new immigrants from 31 provinces, cities and autonomous regions of the whole country, also along with the settlement of one young man of Luoba nationality in the Folk Culture Village, Shenzhen even has become the second city in China that has gathered all the 56 nationalities of the whole country. Therefore, Shenzhen’s delicious foods have already become no longer as simple as an assemblage of the eight main cuisines of china, the instant-boiled mutton of Beijing’s Wangfujing “Donglaishun”, the steamed bread soaked with mutton of Xi’an’s “Laosun Family”, the smoked the fried pork with wormwood of Jiangxi’s Jiujiang, the “pulpous noodle” of Henan’s Luoyang Old City, the pickled cabbage and chili fish of Chongqing’s “Taoran Residence”, the chili fried egg of Hunan’s You County, the small ravioli of Hujian’s Sha County, the fish skin porridge of Shantou’s Changping Road, the “Aryi abalone” of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay are all here. As an international city, Korean-cuisine stone hollowware meal, Japanese-cuisine sushi sashimi, French oil-fried goose liver, Brazilian barbecue, Thai Tom Yum Kung and Vietnamese sour orange fish sauce all still have rather orthodox tastes. Numerous bar streets are also Shenzhen’s charming scenes after the night curtain falls, going to Shekou “Sea World” to drink a cup of self-brewed fresh beer, enjoying the gentle sea breeze, listening to a spellbound saxophone performance; or going to a bar of the “Window of the World” to drink a cup of cocktail, being soaked in a colorful light, singing a dreamy classic great song, all these are good choices.
It is said that China’s cities have already reached the number of more than 3000, Beijing has the beauty of magnificence, Xi’an has the beauty of classicality, Hangzhou has the beauty of graceful elegance, Qingdao has the beauty of romance, Yangzhou has the beauty of delicacy, Chengdu has the beauty of ease and leisure, Kashi has the beauty of amorous feelings, Lhasha has the beauty of mystery …….. and then, how about Shenzhen? I think, Shenzhen has the beauty of modernity and youth. Having lived in Shenzhen for nearly 30 years, I have gradually embraced a blood-related feeling with this city, inadvertently I have already merged my own sentiments into the cognition of this city, just as in a still mid night, when this city has stripped its resplendent heavy make-up, I often have a sincere praise in the depth of my heart when driving on Shennan Avenue. For numerous domestic and foreign tourists, Shenzhen has already won a lot of attentive gazes, yet Shenzhen’s beauty still requires all people to have more discoveries and experiences, Shenzhen’s intrinsic things still need the more of people’s knowledge and understanding.
Writen in Shenzhen, spring 2008
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