Rats (Robert), July (Julia), Berna (Bernadette), Fee (Fiona), Tilo (Timothy) and me – five fun seekers, late teens and the streets of Shenzhen… ONLY PROBLEM, the trip is a part of a Government supported ‘Educational Program’. We are stuck in a “round the clock” government meetings, ‘university lectures’ and ‘field trips to local factories’… THE ONE THING MISSING….. All work and no play!
It is the story of last year July. I enrolled in a “student exchange program” between Chinese and UK Governments. Although, I could afford to go on my own or getting cheap flights to China with low cost airline but I wanted some extra marks in my school too. Since it was an ‘educational trip’ I ended up spending most part of my days in ‘community centers’, ‘institutes’ and ‘meetings’ with Government officials and Youth Ministry. The good thing was, during the first few days of extreme boredom, I succeeded in making a few friends, entirely on basis of ‘common interests’ as we were all bored to death.
With the monotony in our travel itinerary, on the fifth day we were all looking like a week old pizza slice, long face dull eyes. “Rats” proposed his wicked idea “why not we skip the conference today and do something fun’. It was immediately accepted by the whole group and we planned on missing the bloodcurdling conference. I played ‘sick’, Rats and Tilo ‘disappeared and not found, ‘Berna’ took the advantage of her age as she was the senior most and volunteered to stay with me at the hotel until I get well, ‘July’ the youngest among us, she made a ‘puppy face’ saying ‘I am waiting for a very urgent phone call from home’ she is daughter of a very influential lady, who can possibly say no to her! Somehow, we all managed to save our souls from the evil of day long meetings, conferences’ and lectures that sound like lullaby. As soon as the tourist bus left, we sneaked out, one by one to get together with Rats and Tilo in a nearby mall and the expedition began.
It was totally unplanned. I mean literally. So we all agreed on going to the nearest attraction, fortunately for us it happened to be “Happy Valley”.
We reached Happy valley nearly by mid day. At the ticketing counter discount was offered on tickets purchased after 6 pm, the difference was like 50%. But we had to get back to our hotel in time so, with a sobbing heart, we paid for the day time tickets. During those hours, one of the longest ‘Roller Coasters’ in the world, that happens to be in Happy Valley was not operating. So we moved on in, right after the entrance was KFC at the right and public toilets to the left moral “feel free to fill your tummy cause the toilets are not far away” ….After it was a narrow street, that had some gaming zones sort small shops. You can ‘hammer the monkey’ or throw the basket ball, some play stations were there too. There was an appealing prize on nearly every game.
We moved on towards the gift shop. Most things were a bit high priced (we knew as we had seen some shops in Wuhan and Beijing already) but the “Happy Valley” themed coffee mugs, tea shirts etc. are a perfect souvenir. It cost me like 10 Yuan for one at that time.
Moving on, there we were in a middle of uncountable rides. Crazy bus, The UFO (Flying soccer), Roller Coaster, horror house, the wheel, and so many more that I can’t even name. I found the UFO best, for they take your photos too, when you are being thrown up and down, left and right at supersonic speed. The photos were horrible, but let’s face it they are for memory sake and to laugh about. We saw the carnival passing too; it felt almost like as if we were in Rio Brazil, tall, gorgeous and tan women barely dressed and wrapped in feathers. Some of us followed the carnival joined in dancing and singing for a while. The most memorable thing is, everyone, nearly everyone around us was taking our photos. Some even mentioned “you have big eye, big nose…wow”. They were simple people who made us feel like celebrates. The boys were a bit hesitant to get close to us or talk but women; Chinese babes completely took over the scene. They were asking us to have a photo with them, holding hands, hands on the shoulder; doing the victory sign…it was fun
We had the time of our life. The rides, the food, the games, carnival, shopping and “window of the world” is just across the road. Altogether the experience was worth missing the meeting and much more.
On the way back, we took a subway and passed the time singing loud. Next day we had to take the road to Hong Kong and from there on to UK. If you have plenty of time, road route from Shenzhen to Hong Kong is highly recommendable however; nowadays cheap flights to Shenzhen are widely available from London, UK. So it’s better to fly straight to Shenzhen and while on return, it can add more spice to your adventure if you are going via Hong Kong.