Shenzen

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We were up in Shenzen today. I'm in two minds about the place. One mind is that there are some good bargains to be found there, and there are things you can do which you can't in Hong Kong. Go-karting at Honey Lake, for example, is fun and cheap: $65 for about 10 minutes howling around a track in a kart.

The other mind says "this is China." This is a dirty place, full of people who stare at you, hassle you to buy stuff from them, drive like dribbling morons and who beg all the time. We queued for a taxi near Lo Wu and had a bizarre collection of disfigured beggars pleading for money. The 'Dog-boy', on all fours except that he has only on working leg (the other is folded in half and wasted away) and one hand is permanently touching you on the leg, was the most bizarre. I have heard rumours that these beggars are deliberately crippled to make more money for their controllers.

It is disgusting. I might have sympathy for one or two, but four or five maimed, crippled, disfigured beggars working a queue of twenty people just makes it a freak show. Also, you know, if you've spent any amount of time in Asia, that if you give money to one, all the others will demand money from you too. It's heart-breaking, but you have to just not see them.

Inside Lo Wu city, the touts were very aggressive today. "Sir! Buy DVD-9? Photos? Rolex?" The DVD-9 is just a dual-layer DVD copy. They are better copies than they used to make, but they try and demand HK$20 for each one. We bargained them down to about HK$12 per unit, although this was only attainable because we've bought stuff there before and we told him (in very loud voices) that his quality was crap, and my wife is a demon bargainer. (The first time we were there, they kept talking to their colleagues in their own dialect that they were taking some Kong Kongers for a ride. Unluckily (for them) their own dialect was that of the Chiu Chow Region, which is where my wife is from. Boy did they get an unwelcome surprise. "You just told your friend you bought these for ten dollars each. Sell them to us for 11 dollars and you make ten percent. Keep asking for twenty dollars and we walk away.")

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