Travel: Shenzhen


If you ever visit the Pearl River Delta, you’ll have to visit all 3 places: Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen.

Geographically located in the south of China’s Southern China’s Guangdong province, Shenzhen is a bustling city with a subtropical climate. Even in December, where most parts of China is freezingly cold, Shenzhen’s temperature is around a cool 12 degrees Celsius.

A few must-visit places would be Splendid China, Window of the World and Chinese Folk Village. To save us the trouble of finding our way around Shenzhen and buying tickets on our own, my family followed a tour group under WTS Travels.

We arrived via MTR from Hong Kong and our first stop would be Splendid China.

Entering Splendid China was like walking into the kingdom of Lilliput. I felt like a giant in the miniature park. The park has 84 replicas of Chinese ancient buildings, historical sites, national monuments, natural landscapes and folk dwellings, which showcased China’s rich history and culture. The tiny replicas have been constructed on a scale of 1:15. A few noteworthy replicas would be the Potala Palace (in Tibet), the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, West Lake (西湖) in Hangzhou and Tian An Men.

Owing to the lack of time (and because it’s hard to old folks in our tour group to travel around the 30-hectare park on foot within a few short hours), we went on a tram ride around the park. Thus, there weren’t many opportunities for us to get down and take photos. We could only snap pictures from within the tram.

It would be awfully dry to simply sit around and look at mini buildings. Thank goodness the park also hosts several shows depicting various events in Chinese history. My group managed to catch the horse riding show depicting a battle.

It was pretty awesome and I felt like I was in a scene of some Chinese drama! The stuntmen’s horseriding skills were mindblowing! I used to think aiming an arrow/ slashing and extinguishing candles/ getting off the saddle and back up again while riding on a horse were all impossible feats only made possible in fictional stories! :O

There were more shows in the park but due to time constraints, we didn’t manage to watch the Dragon and Phoenix nor the Oriental Costumes show.

The lanterns and wooden benches reminded me of scenes in those Chinese dramas depicting ancient times. Oh man, wouldn’t it be cool if I could also dress up and pretend to be in some other era?

Then, we continued on our tour to the Chinese Folk Village(深圳中国民俗文化村), which is another part of the Splendid China Miniature Park. The traditions, way of life, culture and unique architecture of China’s various ethnic groups are all displayed. The buildings here are exact replicas of what you would find in their original tribal villages. Not all 56 ethnic groups’ villages were showed though.

We saw the houses of the Tibetians, the Dai people of Yunnan, Miao village and etcetera. It was quite fun running up and down the wooden staircases of their buildings and hiding behind pillars under the low ceilings of the buildings. I even saw Mongolian Yurts and took pictures with gorgeous staff who were dressed like Mongolians in their traditional costumes.

Here’s a really uniquely decorated backyard!

See how huge their totem is? I’m a midget right beside it!

This is a Tibetian village draped with colourful prayer flags.

Having explored “the whole of China” in 2 hours, we figured that we should be doing something BIGGER. We’ll explore THE WORLD.

Next stop, Window of the World (世界之窗). 

It is literally the window to the world for this park showcases scaled-down replicas of architectural wonders and marvels from around the globe. Even the entrance with the park’s name is on a replica of the Louvre pyramid.

From the entrance of the theme park, you could spot the 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower already!

The entrance is really a great spot for phototaking and camwhoring.

Windows of the World has about 130 reproductions of some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. All exhibits are classified according to the continents or regions that they are located at. 

It felt as if I was really in Holland. I thought the windmills were quaint and cute.

There! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the nearby cathedral of Pisa, Tuscany.

Niagara Falls and the Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza, Egypt.

United State’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial, United States Capitol, and Lincoln Memorial Hall. Spot the Christ the Redeemer statue from Rio de Janeiro in the background!

As the 48 hectare large park was too big for us to walk around in 3 hours, we went on another tram ride and zoomed our way pass the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the statues of Easter Island and etcetera.

Our tour guide had recommended us to go for the simulated flight experience, Flying Over America, where seats will be lifted high up and you would feel as if you were soaring over Grand Canyon. We managed to catch the last show of the day. I was slightly scared of sitting up too high, so I chose the middle few rows. Immediately after the seats were elevated, I regretted my decision. Perhaps I should have chosen the first two rows instead. Though the tilting of the seats was quite slight, when coupled with the humongous screen towering above and below you, and the surround sound, it was hard not to feel nervous. I was literally grabbing onto the safety buckle for my dear life. (China’s safety standards aren’t that reassuring, honestly.)

Pictures weren’t allowed in the theatre, so here’s one I took from online that showed how the ride went.

When the show finally ended, I was left with weak knees. I didn’t know I would get vertigo from that! I conquered so many roller coasters and inverted rides and I can’t even manage this? Maybe my paranoia over safety issues kept nagging at me from the back of my mind, so I was enduring the entire ride with extreme trepidation. Yes, that must be the reason behind my sudden cowardice and fear of heights.

We didn’t manage to try out the other rides like the indoor roller coaster, Canyon flume ride or the rock climbing. That was quite a bummer.

Eventually, we left the park and headed to Luohu, where our hotel, Best Western Felicity Hotel, was located. Dinner was self-provided for and we were glad that there was a mall right beside the hotel with many eateries and fast food outlets. We went on for more shopping and haggling in the shops, and managed to get some pretty decent loot (bags!)

As we were making our way back to the hotel, I spotted a homeless old man huddling under his crumpled grubby blankets on the overhead bridge. A few creased notes and scattered coins lay forlornly in his red plastic pail before him. I dropped in some change and he tossed a little before settling back down. It was rather saddening to see that behind every economically successful city, there are still unfortunate individuals who slip through society’s safety nets and end up living in destitution. It’s impossible to help every single one out there, but at least, a simple action may be able to tide them over a tough period.

By the time we reached the hotel, we were freezing in the cold night wind. Thank goodness for the invention of heaters and indoor air conditioning!

Here’s the view from the hotel room! Waking up to such an amazing view is pure bliss!

The next day was quite free-and-easy, so we went on for more shopping. As beer and snacks are really cheap in China, we went for “grocery shopping” and attempted to chew as much bubble gum as we could! (hey, bubble gum is rare – almost impossible to get your hands on – in Singapore.)

The entire trip would have been enjoyable, if not for the fact that the tour guide scammed our tour group by making us pay an extra 100 yuan per person as ticket admission fees for the parks. What infuriated me the most was that he lied, he FREAKING LIED to the entire lot of us on the admission prices. It was not as if we didn’t tip him! We DID tip him. It was ethically immoral of him to exploit our unfamiliarity with the places of interest in Shenzhen and use it to earn extra money for his own selfish gains. Guess it wasn’t the first time I’ve met dishonest Chinese tour guides.

Note to self: Be wary of such tour guides in future. Always do your own research beforehand. Better yet, I should quit being lazy and plan my own free-and-easy trips! Self-planned free-and-easy in China > tour groups under travel agencies

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