My Old Neighborhood

I’m currently on the hunt for new places to photograph for a possible magazine gig, so for now I’m not doing much personal photography. I will blog at some point about the Lumix LX3, but I’ve been a bit lazy (and on vacation mode!) to play around with it.

There are a lot of things I do NOT miss about Shenzhen, but I did like the interesting subjects around my neighborhood. I took a couple of shots before I left, and will post more once my scanner is actually out of the box (have no space in our temporary living quarters, literally!) and I can plug it in.

Photos below:

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Oh Canada!

I had wanted to do a post while still in Shenzhen but a) packing took its toll and I would pass out way too early b) Seeing too many people before hubby and I left also took its toll c) I also started getting sad about leaving so blogging would have brought out those emotions.

All said and done, I’m glad I’m back on North American soil.  Only back two days and I just feel more relaxed, mainly from the lack of crowds here. It’s not humid like crazy which is what makes summer so nice here.  Seeing friends for a week in Toronto then off to our final destination in the states.  Too tired to be excited.

I’ve still got a wackload of film to scan and photos of Shenzhen to edit, so will do more blogs about Shenzhen for a little bit.  Have run out of film so will try to take some photos of Canada on my little digicam.

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Shameless Plug

image credit

I finally changed photos for my gallery at The Kitchen Futian at COCO Park in Shenzhen. So if you happen to be around, please feel free to check it out. They also have decent food (the roasted spring chicken with rosemary and lemon is my personal favourite) if that is any incentive to go and look at their walls as well, haha.

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When the Novelty of Being an Expat Wears Off

I speak with a lot of friends back home and they tell me how lucky I am in terms of my financial situation, such as being in China with a low standard of living but making the salary I would make back in Canada. I’m not sure people necessarily realize that as much of an incentive it is to go to another country, there are a lot of sacrifices you have to make too. Being away from friends and family this long is wearing on me, and simple things, such as not being able to buy fresh herbs/have a garden makes me a bit sad at times.

I remember when I first got to Shenzhen and I was all about visiting new places and all that. I went out a lot and met a lot of people I really don’t remember (haha!).  It happens to the best of us. 6 months to a year, the whole idea of going out and exploring places, or things you though were comical  starts to annoy you. I’ve been there. I’m at the point if I have to wait in line and it’s busy, I get very impatient.  I rather do a lot of online shopping here than go out and face the crowds.  I know people cope by going to HK a lot, where more people speak English and you can get more “Western”  products/restaurants.

I feel that a lot of people find it hard to cope because they don’t try to move beyond their expat circles. Sure, it’s nice to speak to somebody who understands you, but the more distance you put between yourself and the Chinese culture (I’m talking about always drinking at foreign bars, eating at foreign restaurants, etc.), the harder it is.  I try my best to support the local economy (hubby has a good hair cutting guy, very nice) and as silly as it seems, it’s kind of my connection to the local community.  I’m at the point where staying home is just nice, and just because I’m in a foreign country, doesn’t mean I have to go out and explore all the time (though there are still a few places in Guangdong province I want to head to). I also find people get a lot more negative and eventually may not have nice things to say about the people and the place.  I fell into that trap previously, but now I try my best to understand why certain things happen. It still annoys me, but it makes me feel better when I can understand why something happens.

Some of the ways I cope and relax when Shenzhen gets to be too much:

-Go the local market, or walk around where hubby gets his haircut. Lots of photo ops there (wish I wouldn’t forget my camera half the time!) and for some reason, looking at fresh produce and coming up with dishes based on what veggies look delicious  makes me happy. When you get to know the vendors (you definitely need some Chinese skills there)  they’ll be more ‘honest’ about freshness, price, etc.

-Make random experiments for myself, like make western dishes (not counting salads, or things like pasta!) using only ingredients from local supermarkets.  My last experiment with baked tamales was a partial success, am going to try Swedish meatballs next.

-Learn Chinese. Believe it or not it really helps. Plus I like learning new things, being with a tutor gives me more accountability.

-Visit poorer areas of Shenzhen. I’ve been too lazy to do it, but I’m going to try for this weekend.

-Gym/yoga: trying to hammer out a routine where I can find a good balance between gym and yoga at home.  It’s been a bit crazy trying to balance extra crazy school schedule this year too!

-Practice expressing gratitude and positivity everyday.  There is always something good about being in China or China itself, I just have to remind myself.

-Finding  a community with similar interests (other than drinking!): I hang out with a few flickr friends and I’m going to try and connect with photographers in SZ who are interested in photographing the same subjects as I do.

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Da Chong Village

sarah li cain-mumbled jumbles-da chong village01

Shenzhen is known for its intense construction. Buildings going up, buildings going down. I was semi-surprised to hear that a lot of this development can be quite political for regular folk. I’m not one to explain this very well, so you’ll probably have to head over to Shenzhen Noted again to get the full scoop. What it basically boils down to is this: Shenzhen wants the land because it is prime real estate for developers. The developers then have to ‘compensate’ the residents of the land and building owners for their houses and moving expenses, plus a new building.  When I visited Dachong village, about 10 buildings were still holding out for a better compensation package (this was about a month ago, must follow up on this, but need to find translator).  There are  a few things I find somewhat disturbing. One, the fact that these people have no choice but to move, even though they get compensated. When I arrived with a friend, we were initially told to leave because the security guards were specifically told not to allow foreigners, or people from Hong Kong in (my friend is a foreigner and because I can’t really speak Mandarin, assumed I was from Hong Kong).  Obviously from this conversation I pretty much concluded that China/Shenzhen is paranoid about letting this leak out to anyone other than the Chinese. Two, small children and elderly still live in fairly squalid conditions while these negotiations are going on.  One building owner followed us and (it seemed to me a means to gain sympathy) informed us that water and electricity were cut off in his building and his grandmother plus his children are still living there. Yes, it sucks that the government is using these means to force people out, but I also wouldn’t let children and elderly live like that. But then again, I don’t know an awful lot about situations like these (apparently there are a lot of these all around the city, hopefully when I come back from vacation in the summer I’ll get a chance to explore these grounds) but as always, the innocent have to deal less than satisfactory situations.

I do hope though, that the children still living there don’t always have to play around areas like this:

sarah li cain-mumbled jumbles-da chong village02

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