Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bantian

Since I got back from Myanmar it has been well and truly into the rainy season here.

That means very high humidity accompanying the heat, as well as a lot of rain. It's a big change from Beijing which is very dry and rarely ever rained. Here going for a run takes forever to stop sweating afterwards (if ever), whilst a short walk in the middle of the day is not recommended. I've taken to riding to work in a different t-shirt and then changing at the office! That is of course the days that it is not pouring with rain (usually coming home actually, rather than in the morning, which i suppose is better as i can get changed once i get home) when i need to hide under a raincoat.

At weekends we thus often head to indoor malls that have playgrounds or activities for children as well as food options - both for the air conditioning and to shelter from the rain. If it doesn't rain we'll still try to get out to some parks and things. There are a lot of very good kids' playgrounds though. Way more than in Beijing, and certainly the large number of entrepreneurs in Shenzhen (plus the fact that the whole city is only recently built) means that is it well designed and has lots going for it.

The outdoor swimming pool downstairs opened in May, though only in the afternoons and evenings (even on weekends, strangely) and Hannah goes frequently after kindergarten with Andrea, Leah and the nanny. Obviously the pool closes during thunderstorms, and it has been pretty bad most weekends, but i have gone a couple of times. It is very strange to have a quasi-holiday experience from your doorstep... walking 5m to a wonderful outdoor, floodlit, pool in the heat.

We've not yet really explored Bantian, the area where we live as much as we had in Beijing. Obviously at 7 months old we can't really take Leah on a bike yet, though probably soon, and what with the rain and all, we've not been out too much. We know the immediate area, and the roads too and from the malls, downtown, my office etc, but the fun in China is exploring the bits in between, that you can't see from the main roads. And Shenzhen is all about the little villages near where we live, which was countryside very recently and very quickly gave birth to urbanization for factories and migrant workers to live. So there are a lot of little high streets, markets and things hidden away. I found a few of them when i was searching for a replacement part for a shower, but would love to spend more time exploring them in the future.

Actually another reason we don't explore that much is because online shopping is so easy in China - that is where i found my replacement shower part and it is where we buy a lot of our food and other stuff too. Plus, of course, 3 year olds are not known for their willingness to walk around for no good reason, and thus we tend to take Uber a lot (it is wonderfully cheap here due to nice subsidies as part of their growth efforts).

Generally there are some nice developments around, or going up, but a lot of the area is cheaply and quickly built housing from 15 years ago when Shenzhen was being built. They look much older! And they are very local with a very migrant worker feel to them with a lot of life on the streets. Recently I've been going further north from the office to play football, past wonderful roads, shabby buildings, and new developments. Nicely sums up China I suppose. I'm not sure who would want to live or work out there, or who will fill the space, but there is no lack of money for investing in building things in China, and especially in Shenzhen, the home of real estate.

We've never been fans of air conditioning, as we prefer to keep windows open, but what with the mosquitoes and the humidity, we've had to resort to air conditioning sometimes to the detriment of our health and the environment. But otherwise we all get hot and grumpy!

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