Thursday, July 23, 2009
Shenzhen (深圳) is a major new city in mainland China adjacent to Hong Kong (香港) that has seen explosive growth (from negligible to a semi-official 14 million in a few decades) due to its special economic zone status. [Fisheye view from my room on the 19th floor of the Southern Union (南方联合) hotel.] Because Shenzhen is flat and doesn't have a natural center, it's perhaps difficult to get an appreciation of the extent and layout of the city unless one goes high up. (By the way, it's also where the Century South China Table Tennis Club (深圳市世纪南华乒乓球俱乐部) I described in a previous blog entry (here) is located.) The observation floor of the Diwang Tower (地王大厦) 300m up (slightly higher than the highest floor of the Eiffel Tower) is an ideal place to take photos the day after a typhoon has passed through to clear the air. [Looking south and west.] One can be easily forgiven for making the mistake that the paddy fields are in mainland China and the tall buildings are in Hong Kong, but of course, it's quite the reverse here at the border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The Shenzhen River is the narrow ribbon here that limits Shenzhen's urban sprawl to the south. Before economic development, I would wager the land on either side of the river was quite similar-looking. Looking directly south towards Hong Kong, if you click on the picture below to magnify, we can make out the residential flats of the village of Sheung Shui (上水) (part of Hong Kong) in the distance beyond the fields. A detail from the picture above: the border crossing building at Luohu (罗湖) and railway station with Sheung Shui in the background: To the west, we can see Lizhi Park (荔枝公园) through to the electronics shopping area of Huaqiang Bei (华强北) to the center of Shenzhen. In the distance, you can make out the Pearl River (珠江) and the hills on the other side. The Century South China Table Tennis Club is at the north end of the Lizhi Park (to the park's near right corner). Detail below: To the north, Guangzhou ( 广州) is the provincial capital and a larger (and more crowded) city, just 91 miles (147 km) or just under an hour away by (200 km/hr) intercity train. Looking to the east, Shennan East Rd (深南东路) runs straight and true. Hong Kong people would say Shenzhen is wide and spacious. It's all relative... The Southern Union (南方联合) hotel - from where the first fisheye picture was taken - is located next to the gold-colored buildings in the middle background. Now, if you revisit that fisheye picture, you'll see that the hills behind the buildings are actually in Hong Kong. Next post, I will revisit the skyline of Hong Kong. The cities of Guangzhou (15.3 million), Hong Kong (7 million) and Shenzhen (14 million), all about an hour or so apart by fast train, form the core of the Pearl River Delta area (珠江三角洲). The Pearl River Delta is one of the engines driving China's recent economic miracle.