30.12.2006 - 30.12.2006
Being that Shenzhen was just on the otherside of the border, I assumed that it would be pretty much similar to Hong Kong and a good place to start, giving me a taste of China before hitting it big time. Boy was I wrong; talk about throwing me in at the deep end. I stood their, froozen like a rabbit caught in headlights looking on at the chaos and commosion around me. The noise was deafening while people scuried about within the cold, dirty concourse. Wooden karts lined the walls serving hot food 'n' drinks within the hollow building that was open at one end. Wind whistled past and out the holes of the old tiled roof which was in desprate need of restoring. Esculators lead off to the left, one up, one down and a large cigarette booth to my right. Who were all these people? Where had they been and where were they going? They certainly didn't cross the border with me, nor were they entering Hong Kong; they were just there, buzzing about in their raggy clothes, spitting on the cigarette-butt littered floor. It was as if they were placed there, like on the Trueman show, perhaps to prove a point to those visiting that they are not Hong Kong. Not a single sign, menu or advertising board was in English, as they had been only 200 metres south which made my directions off the internet pricless. No wonder Lou was laughing at me and at that point, I wished he had never found my visa. Still in shock, I pleaded my legs to work, though I was routed to the spot. All I had to do was cross the concourse and up the esculator, taking a swift right across the bridge, then down the stairs to my left, but my legs just wouldn't move. I pulled my hat down over my ears; part to try and disguise my western apperance which I was nervous about being in such an enviorment for the first time and part to help shut out the noise as you do when watching the scary parts of horrors movies. A look up to the heavans, a few deep breaths and I was on the move. It was like treading water as my feet barely touched the ground, taking me across the concourse in the sea of people to the other side. Brushing myself down I took the esculator which lead skywards. Again, the calm before the storm as I stood, slowly approaching the top, then spat out back into the crowd which then carried me across the bridge and to the top of the stairs. Before I knew it, I was at the entrance of the bus station. Like the concoure, it was dated, dirty and full of people giving off a lot of noise. I was the only westerner as I looked about for a clue on where I was. People looked on as I wondered back and forth in search of some assistance. I confirmed in sign language with the gateman that I was in the right place and took a seat in the corner, hiding beneath my hat and behind my book as I waiting the 2 hours for my bus to Yangshou.
As time went by I started to feel a bit more at ease. At one point I even took my hat off for a few seconds while I scratched my head. I sat opposite a flight of stairs that led up to a room above the bus station which I decided to check out now that I had taken in my surroundings. I hoped it was a waiting room with maybes some food that I could try and off I went. I could see Sleeper Bus posters and "Enjoy Cola" signs, although in Chinese, as I climbed the stairs, laughing at myself, thinking how I was going to write up on my blog how I had sat in the cold for the past 90 minutes when I could of been warm and comfortable sipping on a hot drink. As I entered the room I could instantly feel the warmth hit me as my cheeks glowed, then out of the blue, before even getting time to treasure this warming moment, "Laowai’, laowai’, laowai’"screeched out from a local women as she stood up just infront of me, pointing. My hat, pulled back down over my ears and the laughter now stopped as I looked for a way out of the situation I was in. Two more women approached me, this time touts, although I had no idea what they were saying to me though they were pointing at a business card with a bus on it. Those looking on, again, all being Chinese sat and stared. I pulled out my ticket, indicating that I wasn't interested and that I didn't require an additional ticket. I turned to one of the booths for a bit of breathing space with the sound of laowai still bellowing out behind me. The younger lady of the two with the business cards screams "Four, Four" and smiles. I look up, where I stood at booth number six and realised she was indicating to the foreigner booth, number four, so I side shuffled, bag still on my back along the two windows and waited. I handed over my ticket, which was then torn slightly, stampt and passed back with the lady telling me I'd be leaving from bay 6. I hurried back out the waiting room and down the stairs, thankful that I hadn't found the waiting room earlier and to my awaiting bus where I was to be spending the next nine hours and setting away from Schenzhen forever.
Laowai is the Chinese word for foreigner and is often called out, especially by the older generation when they see a foreigner. It is mainly to warn others that a non-chinese is among them and also out of curiosity. No harm is ment by it although they do come across a bit in your face, but hey, thats the Chinese for you.