Holy Coconuts, We Live In the Tropics!
Today I got on a bus, and wound up in paradise.
That’s not entirely true. First I got on a bus from my apartment, then met some people at the Metro (subway), got on another bus, spent an hour and a half wending our way through Futian, Luohu and Yantian, and then spent the afternoon sipping on a coconut and swimming in the South China Sea.
Not for nothing is Yantian called the Beach District in Shenzhen. There are 3 main places that CTLC-ers go, and the one we hit today is called Da Mei Sha. Da Mei Sha is the public beach– free admission, but has a tendency to be crowded and maybe a little less clean. (I’ll write about the others when we get there. Apparently Friday we’re going to Xiao Mei Sha.) On the other hand, it was a Wednesday afternoon. Not to crowded, not too dirty. A bunch of us bought coconuts, which the guy whacked open with a machete and handed to us with a straw. If you have never drunk ice-cold coconut juice straight from the source, you are really missing out. I highly recommend it. After sipping on our delicious fresh fruit beverages for a while, we decided to head into the ocean, which was bathwater-warm and absolutely perfect. We didn’t even need the extra (costlier) entertainment such as Sea-doos or parasailing (though that one I may have to cough up for, we’ll see), content as we were to float around in the surf and sunbathe.
In retrospect, the Chinese people must have thought we were so, so weird. For one thing, there was an absolute herd of us. To add to that, most of the girls were wearing normal, American bathing suits– which are way more revealing than the suits the Chinese girls wear. On the other hand, I actually bought a Chinese bathing suit and it didn’t help much. Chinese girls apparently don’t have much on top. I’m don’t have the biggest chest ever (or at all), but boy did I make that thing look indecent by Chinese standards. So we’re a massive, scantily-clad, boisterous group of blondes, redheads, and brunettes who lay out on the beach in the sun without umbrellas. Very confusing. Doesn’t everyone want to be milk-white and unblemished? In China, they do…
I was going to sneakily just sidenote the bathing suit episode, but actually I think it deserves a little detour. When I heard that we were going to Yantian for the day, I figured we’d be “doing Yantian” much the way we’d “done Futian” or the other districts: head out there, see some of the sights, maybe take over a pub or three, and generally get to know the place. I was wholly unprepared for the fact that we were headed out to have a Tropical Beach Day, which surprise just made the adventure that much cooler. The upshot is though, I failed to bring a swimsuit with me. So we got to the beach, and it’s a gorgeous sunny day with hot sand and cool waves, and I’m thinking, okay, apparently I’m going in fully clothed. Which would have made for a real interesting bus ride back. But! There were several stands dotting the landscape, selling bathing suits (of course! the Chinese are so smart, they always have really convenient shops everywhere) and so a friend and I wandered over and took stock of the absolutely ludicrous-looking swimwear. She has pictures. After much deliberation, we picked one for her that was bright neon pink with polka dots, and I had to have the one that was blue with gold spiderwebs all over. I got to the guy selling them and said in my baby Chinese, “I’d like this one. The biggest size you have.” Which he was already pulling out. Ha. I would like it to be known though that both in clothing and in shoe size, I happen to sit just at the very top of the normal range here (despite the hips, go figure?) so I can, in fact, buy clothes that are made for Chinese women. This was a fantastic revelation. No Western clothing stores necessary! So now I own a bathing suit covered in spiderwebs that I bought on the beach in Yantian. Huge success.
We played at the beach nearly all day today, until the sky clouded over in earnest and raindrops began to fall. Even then, some people opted to stay out; most of us headed back into town though. And this is a post for another day, because I will have to go on about it at length, but I had my first experience with rush hour buses. OH MAN. Now I know what sardines feel like. But in all, a completely glorious day. Life in Shenzhen is grand.