I went to Dafen Village in search of the the highly regarded Oil Painting replicas that have been done there since the 90’s. I did not find them. Walking up and down multiple streets half heartedly looking for the painters, my attention was stolen by the lives unfolding around me. I watched a group of women playing mahjong, which for all I know is some kind of complex Chinese dominoes, was momentarily involved in a game of pool and explored what is technically a suburb of Shenzhen, but bared no resemblance the suburbs I have known in the United States. The streets were occupied by their residents, people spending time together outside of their seemingly cramped homes.
Shenzhen is a place of industry. With Skyscrapers going up around you and electronic markets occupying 10+ floors of some of the already existing ones, the place is nearly vibrating. It is far easier to find yourself at the top of a 40+ floor edifice in Shenzhen than in Hong Kong. No one seemed to care what I did, so I made it to the top of both skyscrapers I attempted to ride up. Just outside the main stretch of the city was a verdant park rich with bamboo and grassy areas. I crossed a small urban stream into a ‘village’ on the edge of the park that felt like a small town packed into a dozen 10+ story buildings that gushed with signs of life, clothes hanging from every window, toys littering the courtyards. The variation of lifestyle in Shenzhen was more apparent than anywhere else I’ve travelled to. It was immensely interesting, and I can’t wait to go back.
Until a few months ago I had been a vegetarian for about 14 years. Upon coming to Hong Kong I have eaten things like steamed pork buns, Yakatori chicken, and various dumplings I was sometimes unsure of the content of.. Being in a place where these things are a part of the culture, the way of life pulsing around me, I feel more okay with consuming it than I have before. Every street I walk down here has flesh hanging in some window, maybe an entire goose, maybe fish swimming in a tiny tank. People live in tiny apartments here. They eat out. They eat in parks, they eat together. These are the markets, as vibrant and social a step as any. The wet markets are loud and colorful, and they go well into the night as the city does.