Tell me about your experience living in Shenzhen

mainlandchina

#21

Well I was only jesting w/ the driver bit, I doubt it will be on the table as I'm not that high up, but we'll see. How much does a car/driver run one nowadays in SZ?

Anyone know of any forums/sights on Shenzhen? The place seems to be one of the few places left in the world with a large black void of English online presence. So much for that "marrying of international metropolises" Donald was talking about...

From what little there is Shekou seems to be the place most similar to northern Taipei, but transit is an issue. Futian supposedly is No 2, anyone lived there?


#22

There is a site called Shenzhen Party, mostly upcoming happy hours and so on, but there are often good links.

HG


#23

Yup, checked it out. Thanks for the info HGC.

Apparently only you and Elegua have been to this magical place.


#24

Half an hour by car from Shekou to mid downtown tops. Can't remember the taxi fare, but under Rmb100. There's a new MTR line going out to Shekou that will open, I think, in 2010.

Futian is better than Luo Wo (that's not saying a lot), but feels like an urban wasteland. It is relatively up market (we're talking Shenzhen here). Most freigners are in, or socialise in Shekou, especially those with families.

Cheers.
HG


#25

After posting on this forum for a few days, I've noticed (understandably) that people have a really odd idea of what the mainland is like... and also last time I was in Taiwan people couldn't believe that I lived on the "terrible mainland".

So I'd like to set a few things straight (No politics please), this isn't about politics, this is about the living conditions in Shenzhen, I'd like you to all see that it's not as bad as you may think.

A year or two ago me and a couple of friends put together a few videos as a fun project of our exploring some parts of Shenzhen, please follow this link and post your legitimate comments on what you think it's like (as bad as you thought? Better?). And please.. no Taiwan/China politics.

youtube.com/user/PSPTRAVELLE ... 7B78459233


#26

I think that says more about the high quality of life in Taiwan is. For me, it almost equals Singapore. YMMV.

As for living in China, I enjoyed it from a work persepctive, but everything else was pretty poor. You end up having to ignore the reality behind all of the shiny infrastructure.


#27

:roflmao: Listen, I have to speak up here, I've been through Taipei on a scooter (a few times) and as far as environment is concerned it's far worse than Shenzhen, it's older, dirtier, the air quality is rubbish and the traffic is bad (I love Taipei BTW, but I have to be honest).

Shenzhen really isn't a bad place, it doesn't have the Japanese influence that Taipei does (as in the cool food and stores etc), but it's still a great place. I've been living in Shenzhen for four years, and I enjoy exploring dodgey little shit urban villages at night and sitting at the side of the road BBQ's drinking a beer with the locals, I ran out of money when I first got here and spent 2 months living in 沙嘴 (which was at the time the red-light slum of Shenzhen, actually I guess it still is along with 下沙), I can tell you that there is nothing to worry about from a crime point of view if you're a foreigner, as long as you don't involve yourself in drugs or prostitution or that sort of thing you should be 100% okay.

I've now been living in Futian for 3 years near to 华强北 (Hua qiang bei) the electronics district, and it's convenient, clean, quiet, modern and safe.

I'm just astounded at how biased people are against the mainland, politics aside Shenzhen is a great place to live with Bar streets, German micro-breweries, live music, trendy night-clubs (don't forget this is Hong Kong's Playground) and just about anything you could ever need (except cheese)!


#28

I watched your Dong Men part 1 video and it was very interesting. Dong Men looks very new and modern. Most of what I've seen and heard about China has been regarding Guangdong and how dirty and polluted it is, so it was nice to see something different. I have a few questions if you don't mind.

  1. What is the main business in Dong Men? Where does the money come from? Telecommunications? Computers? Technologic manufacturing? Pharmaceuticals? I didn't see any huge factories or black smoky skies in your video. What do most Chinese do? Service industries?

  2. Which company do you work for? What is your job position? Is Chinese language required for your job? How long have you been there? Did you volunteer to move there or were you volunteered? From other posts you've made it looks like you'rer coming to Taiwan. Permanently, short term, why the move? Happy about it or not?

  3. You showed the Japanese area which had various pubs, restaurants, etc. Are there really any Japanese there? Are all these restaurants and pubs owned and run by Japanese people? What I mean is... I'm from America. If I walk into a Thai restaurant in America, it's owned by an immigrant Thai family and Thai people are running it, a Korean restaurant has Koreans, etc. Seems almost foolish to say it. But Taiwan....not really. I walk into a Japanese restaurant, not one Japanese, no Japanese speakers. Thai restaurant, maybe they have a foreign Thai worker who is supposed to be taking care of grandmother, but instead she's cooking in the Taiwanese owned restaurant, no menu in Thai and no Thai language speakers to be found. When I go to a foreign restaurant whether it be Indian, Thai, German, Japanese, Korean, I would like to eat and experience authentic food prepared by the actual ethic people themselves. Is this how it is in Dong Men or are they just Chinese owned businesses catering to Japanese people living in Dong Men?

  4. This next question is a little political and it has to be because it's related to living in China. How is the Internet and access to information and the Chinese government desire to censor anything they feel is objectionable. Do you have 100% free access to the Internet without government interference? Over here in Taiwan I am constantly on the Internet reading news stories on CNN, Drudge, Lucciane, watching my Slingboxes and Havaboxes so I can have US television in my home, etc. I couldn't live anywhere that I wasn't able to access this information without censorship 24/7.

  5. How is the rasicm toward foreigners? Does your health card have a "foreigner" stamp on it? Can you get permanent residency? Can you become a naturalized citizen? Can you do the following without a co-signer?....get a bank loan to purchase your own condo, get a local credit card, hook up Internet, hook up phone service, get mobile phone service, get a loan to buy a car or motorcycle. In Taiwan foreigners are faced with a lot of discrimination and the usual standard response to questioning these racist policies is, "Because you are a foreigner"!

Thanks for your videos. I'll get to parts 2 and 3 later.


#29

First off, if you want to avoid politics stop calling China the mainland. It grates on the ears for many of us given its strong political overtones.

Secondly, it's not astonishing at all how many people are biased against China. Most urban areas of China are god awful both environmentally and socially. The air is filthy, the streets are filthy (though much better in recent years and many smaller cities can have less trash about than comparable Taiwanese towsn), general infrastucture is terrible, homeless migrant workers hang out everywhere, children beg from you at tourist areas, the gap between rich and poor is disgracefully high and in your face everywhere, petty attempts to rip you off happen daily, and there is too often a general feeling of disorder and unease. Coming from a place like Taiwan it is shocking.

Yes, it is possible to isolate and insulate youself from the worst of it in nice expat areas but then you aren't really living in China are you? Your main point seems to be, hey Shenzhen is great because we've got shiny western districts where you can get great stuff like German beer just like back home.

And Vegas is great if you want to see the canals of Venice. :cactus:


#30

Just like the video suggested, it's brushing up quite nicely. Don't know what it's like to live there but when I visited it looked quite nice, quite a few trees, modern infrastructure. Don't knock Kaoshiung BTW, it has a lot going for it and is eminently more liveable than many cities I know (great bike paths now around most of the city, more parks than any other city in Taiwan, very cheap rent, new spacious and cheap subway, good traffic and mostly uncrowded, good weather, close to Kenting).


#31

Okay, I'm on my way to a meeting, so I'll answer your first question and then the others when I get back "Dongmen" is like Taipei's "Ximen" (it's just a shopping area/market), Luohu (the district which dongmen is in) has a large amount of office buildings and hotels, there are no factories there just businesses, restaurants, malls and hotels / clubs / bars. (Many people get a bad impression when coming into Luo Hu via the train station as there is a big commercial city (Hong Kongers pop over to buy cheap goods) and there are a lot of irritating people hanging around the train station trying to sell you cheap knock off goods / rip you off, but the train station aside it's actually a great place (that's the place you see me walking through). And so I'd say Luo hu clearly fits into the service industry area, there are some of the most impressive spas / saunas (such as Queen's Spa tripadvisor.com/ShowUserRevi ... gdong.html) Some very trendy night-clubs up to and surpassing international standards (or the Hong Kongers wouldn't come here), and glitzy shopping malls etc. (There is of course a seedy element too if you go looking for it, but it's more a case of if you walk around the bigger expensive hotels you may get some dodgey old woman winking at you saying "pretty girls??" and that's only if you look like a single businesman on a quick business trip, just ignore them and you'll be fine, and in fact on more than one occasion I've had hotel security guards intercept them before they could even utter a word).


#32

Yes, I know there are many faces to Shenzhen, including "Green Zones" where you can live a full similacra of a Western suburban existence. Someone I know runs a club there. I would also agree there are many misconceptions about China....but you must be kidding me if you can't see the crime, the exploitation...etc...how many things are not quite what they seem when you get past first blush. It's not just melamine milk.

I don't know where you were riding your scooter...but every time I went been backto Taiwan after Shanghai, everyone was delighted at the fresh air, the politeness (!!), the order (!!!), the quality of service, the let's not ef over the tourist. Sure Taipei is older, and parts are mingy. But in Taipei I never had to worry about the security guard using the closet next to my underground parking spot as a toilet. Just for example...

Chalk and cheese.


#33

I completed a recent business tour through many major cities in China recently. My impression

-more orderly, more trees, wider pavements,doing a first rate job in quickly improving public infrastructure
-amazing new airports , skyscrapers (mostly empty) and stadiums around the country
-absolutely terrible traffic (bumper to bumper the entire time in Beijing), pretty horrific air pollution from construction/factories in ChengDu, ChongQing, HangZhou. When the weather cleared in Beijing it was glorious..considering that China's coal use will increase 3% every year for the next 20 years I don't know when this situation will really improve. However their construction boom will probably bust within a year or two resulting in more clear skies than now.
-I visited Shenzhen and from what I saw it was a pretty nice place, more foreigners there than Taipei possibly now. It is not entirely typical of China being an open economic zone located right beside HK.

You are right in some aspects, Taipei has failed to modernise it's buildings and clean up it's air aswell and scooters everywhere are still a nightmare. It's charming aspects are in the stores, restaurants and night markets and surrounding hills. China has done a better job at banning scooters, building pavements and planting trees in certain areas.
These are all environmental impressions.

My customer service impression of China was diabolical. I have never experienced worse or slower customer service in my life. I had to fight with staff to fix the problem everytime China Air screwed up (pretty much every flight). When we missed our connecting flight due to weather reasons China Air staff first refused to reissue me a new ticket, although it was their fault, only that I spoke Chinese and made a fuss did he reissue tickets for free. People tried to skip me in the queue many times in the chaos.

I was also charged 25 euro for 2 coffees and a ice-cream in the ONLY coffee shop in Hangzhou airport...talk about corruption. I went to a coffeeshop in ChongQing and we had to ask individually, 3 TIMES, for every single individual order to our table to get delivered. Living in most parts of China is not so easy like Taiwan (ChongQing is a city of 10million people, if anybody wants to make money open some coffeeshops in ChongQing, please!).

Business-
It is such a huge country it is unfair to generalise I feel.


#34

I think perhaps most of you missed the part where I said I lived in a slum for a few months, of course I know the real seedy shit side of Shenzhen, I was sleeping on the floor of a filthy slum apartment and my Chinese friend who I was living with, well his girlfriend was a prostitute who for instance while we were all watching TV together would get a phone call and have to dissapear for a few hours then come back later (also she'd been bought from her rural parents by a pimp.. let's just say shitty shitty stuff.. and she was such a nice girl too)... it was an uncomfortable and shitty experience to live in and see the kind of crap that goes on in the underbelly of the city. But that's my point, that is the underbelly, and if you want to get involved in things like drugs and prostitution you'll start seeing it very quickly, however if you just want to live a normal life, go out partying have a good job, go shopping etc etc, this city is amazing. And yes the air is much cleaner than Taipei, and the city is very green littered with big impressive parks and bird watching mangroves etc etc it's been given some world heritage award or something (skips my memory as I'm not a treehugger) for being a green city.

Another thing that many of you are saying is that you can isolate yourself from the crap and stick to "clean areas" This is true and many foreigners for instance just live in Nanshan, Shekou (about 80 to 90% of all foreigers in fact) but they miss out on all the fun, I love exploring the local small villages and sitting on the side of the road drinking a beer at some grubby little 烤吧 chatting to the locals, my point being that even if you immerse yourself in the dirtier so called "real China" areas, you'll still be treated well by the locals, you'll still be safe and still be able to enjoy yourself. (Watch out for pickpockets in crowded areas, but if you have common sense you would anyway).


#35

2. Which company do you work for? What is your job position? Is Chinese language required for your job? How long have you been there? Did you volunteer to move there or were you volunteered? From other posts you've made it looks like you'rer coming to Taiwan. Permanently, short term, why the move? Happy about it or not?

I actually have my own company with a few partners based in Hong Kong, currently my job includes running around having a lot of meetings with various companies and clients overseas. As for why I'd like to move to Taiwan (this may sound silly) it's two things really 1) I can own a motorbike (this is my hobby and it's illegal to ride bikes in Shenzhen, I do have bikes here but all I can do is work on them and drive around my parking lot .. :stuck_out_tongue: and occasionally go outside the city for a ride)

2) I love the Japanese influence in Taiwan, I can speak Japanese (well Mandarin too) and have always had a fascination with the Japanese and Chinese cultures... and to see them blended together like they are in Taiwan, well that's the ideal situation for me (I mean.. Chinese hotpot with sushi side dishes???, seifuku parties??? Japanese goods everywhere and Chinese attitudes.. it's difficult to explain, but it's what impressed me most).

3. You showed the Japanese area which had various pubs, restaurants, etc. Are there really any Japanese there? Are all these restaurants and pubs owned and run by Japanese people? What I mean is... I'm from America. If I walk into a Thai restaurant in America, it's owned by an immigrant Thai family and Thai people are running it, a Korean restaurant has Koreans, etc. Seems almost foolish to say it. But Taiwan....not really. I walk into a Japanese restaurant, not one Japanese, no Japanese speakers. Thai restaurant, maybe they have a foreign Thai worker who is supposed to be taking care of grandmother, but instead she's cooking in the Taiwanese owned restaurant, no menu in Thai and no Thai language speakers to be found. When I go to a foreign restaurant whether it be Indian, Thai, German, Japanese, Korean, I would like to eat and experience authentic food prepared by the actual ethic people themselves. Is this how it is in Dong Men or are they just Chinese owned businesses catering to Japanese people living in Dong Men?

The Japanese restaurants I showed, about 50% are Japanese owned, Yawaragi for instance, the owner is a Japanese Nuclear expert who came to China to help develop the nuclear power stations, he retired and opened his restaurant, and with regards to the language, most of the restaurants in this area are specifically for Japanese business men, so all the waitresses have to speak Japanese and usually there's a Japanese manager somewhere (I know all this beause when I first came to Shenzhen I could only speak Japanese and no Chinese so this helped a lot). There are of course plenty of Chinese run "Japanese" restaurants too.

4. This next question is a little political and it has to be because it's related to living in China. How is the Internet and access to information and the Chinese government desire to censor anything they feel is objectionable. Do you have 100% free access to the Internet without government interference? Over here in Taiwan I am constantly on the Internet reading news stories on CNN, Drudge, Lucciane, watching my Slingboxes and Havaboxes so I can have US television in my home, etc. I couldn't live anywhere that I wasn't able to access this information without censorship 24/7.

Yes, this is irritating, as far as censorship of the internet is concerned it's real, they currently block youtube and facebook (but that's about it), if you try to do searches on porn or Mao zedong (at least negative stuff) it usually just turns up a blank page, Wikipedia works fine, but certain articles are blocked. This however doesn't bother me as I have a way around it, and so do most foreigners living here (send me a PM if you want more details), so I can freely browse the web with no issues.

5. How is the rasicm toward foreigners? Does your health card have a "foreigner" stamp on it? Can you get permanent residency? Can you become a naturalized citizen? Can you do the following without a co-signer?....get a bank loan to purchase your own condo, get a local credit card, hook up Internet, hook up phone service, get mobile phone service, get a loan to buy a car or motorcycle. In Taiwan foreigners are faced with a lot of discrimination and the usual standard response to questioning these racist policies is, "Because you are a foreigner"!

There is of course racism towards foreigners, but it's usually positive, everyday I can hear people saying "wow look a foreigner" (there are less than 20,000 foreigners in this city of 14,000,000) or they chuckle when they see me riding my e-bike (wow a foreigner can also ride an e-bike?), that sort of thing. But being a foreigner has it's advantages, people generally treat you well, I get preferential treatment wherever I go (I feel embarassed about it), I've been in the local Shenzhen newspaper about 11 times now (I'm not kidding, I can send the links), I've been interviewed for TV twice and been asked to do TV adverts for companies (watch out my head is going to explode). But I can see where your question is aimed, Yes you will always feel like a foreigner, the nice thing about Shenzhen is that everyone's a foreigner, it's a migrant city so there's no Beijing or Shanghai superiority complex going on, everyone's on the same level, all here trying to earn their fortunes. You will always and clearly stand out and although I love Shenzhen and call it my city, I know I can never really claim to be a citizen (it just wouldn't stick).

Permanent residence I don't think is possible (unless you have been here for yonks and are someone very special, you get a residence permit if you work or study here, if you're married to a Chinese person you get "Visitor visas"

Getting a bank account is easy, you just walk in with your passport and 20 minutes later you have your bank card. Mobile phone (I was frustrated how hard it was in Taiwan), just walk up to any road stall selling sim cards it's about 400NT$ and you've got a phone number with 400NT$ worth of credit. I hooked up my own internet no problem (although speaking chinese is a must), getting a loan to buy things is possible, I know an English teacher who bought a laptop on loan no problem, not sure about a car or apartment though, but I know foreigners do buy apartments here, especially Hong Kongers (for their 2nd wives :wink: ).

Usually the only documentation you need is your proof of residency thing (which is easy to get).


#36

Well, this is an interesting thread indeed. I've known, hell, it must be scores by now, of foreigners who've lived in Shenzen over the last 20 years -- I have around 10 old friends living there right now -- but you're the VERY FIRST person I've encountered who actually likes it there and who doesn't dismiss it as a complete shithole. You're a lucky guy!


#37

:slight_smile: Perhaps your friends are just spoilt kids who miss their social systems :roflmao:

Seriously it's not everyone's cup of tea, but you can't say it's a shithole, because it's not.

Oh and let me add... I've been to plenty of other cities in China (including Beijing, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhuhai, Ordos, Inner Mongolia etc), and I only really like Shenzhen (Zhuhai too). I wouldn't live elsewhere in China


#38

SerpentChina,

Thank you very much for your responses. It's always interesting and educational to see other people's perspectives. :bravo:


#39

Hmm, you think SerpentSaffer might be looking to sell bridges in Shenzhen?
Actually, I've heard a few positive comments about Shenzhen in recent years, that although still being far from paradise on earth, it has improved a lot.
I agree with the Surfer. It's nice to have some new blood on forumosa and a different take on things.


#40

Oh yeah, I have no idea whatever about the place -- I've never been -- I'm simply recounting what I've been told many many times, that's all. Serpent China, you really ARE the first person I've encountered who has nice things to say about the place, so I find your viewpoint interesting. My friends are very very far from being "spoilt brats" too. :laughing: