July seems to be a popular month for travelling among Hong Kongers and I’m lucky enough to also be on a summer trip at the moment to my hometown Singapore. It’s actually been a whole year (a very busy year too) that I’ve been away and this is the longest time I’ve been away from Singapore, so it feels very relaxing to be back for some downtime.
I thought it’ll be fun to go with the travelling theme and share some exploring I did during a weekend trip to Shenzhen earlier in May. But Hong Kong is never too far from my mind, so more from Hong Kong to come as well!
Despite living in Hong Kong, my weekend trip to Shenzhen was actually my first time visiting Mainland China.
(For clarification purposes, because it seems like a common misunderstanding, Hong Kong is not a country, but a Special Administrative Region of China. So within Hong Kong, China is usually referred to as the Mainland or Mainland China. Wiki page here for more detail.)
I was up in northern Shenzhen, in Mission Hills, for just a day and a half so my exploring didn’t cover much, but I did my best! I’m quite sure I didn’t get to experience the ‘real’ Shenzhen because I didn’t head down to the main city area, but it was still an interesting trip!
Heading into the Mainland was a good chance for me to test my Mandarin, which has apparently gotten VERY rusty after living in Hong Kong for five years. I could read and understand everything said just fine, but it was when I had to speak it that I faltered. This is actually quite embarrassing, because I grew up in Singapore! I studied Mandarin in school for a decade, for crying out loud. Geez.
Back to the trip, let me start with the hotel room. So I don’t even usually talk about hotel rooms, but this one I have to. My family and I stayed at the Mission Hills Resort Shenzhen and booked a family room (which we later realised are themed and clearly meant for parents and young children) and we ended up with a PRINCESS themed room. I can’t even describe how excited I was, this hotel room was basically my childhood dream come true.
It came complete with this adorable door, a pink princess bed, pink curtains, a bunch of huge beanbags, macaron and doughnut cushions, a cupcake clock and just cute décor everywhere! You can see more in my travel diary video at the end of this post!
Turns out Mission Hills has their own version of the Avenue of Stars inside the resort (check out Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars in my post here) and my sister and I found out that Kpop star Jessica Jung has really small hands (same sized as my sister’s actually, which is adorably kid sized)!
We spent some time wandering around MH Mall (观澜湖新城), shopping and eating and then made it to a light festival too! (More pictures from the light festival in the next post, but do check out some highlights in the video!)
I tried this strange Chinese dessert that is part of Shunde (顺德) cuisine: fried milk. It tastes exactly like what it sounds like, a fried outer layer with a filling of solidified white milk. It’s quite unusual (to me), but I like it!
The weather was very hot in Shenzhen, so we stopped by this very colourful place called The Patio (I loved the look of the place!) for some pretty waffles and ice cream!
Before heading back to Hong Kong, I found some time to pop by a bookstore cafe called 橙嘉書屋 I spotted in MH Mall, which I found out from their Weibo page only opened recently! There’s nothing particularly special about this bookstore but I always enjoy popping by bookstores when I visit a new city and picking up a book written about that country or culture if possible. Besides, people who own or work at bookstores seem to be interesting people to exchange brief conversations with. :)
Anyway, I also found out that almost every book in this bookstore was wrapped up in plastic and you can’t actually flip the book open to browse. We asked the friendly bookstore staff if this practice was only limited to this bookstore or standard practice across China. He told us it was common across bookstores in China. Interesting! Is this actually true though? I’m curious!
I have some upcoming snapshots to share from the Festival of Lights I visited, but for now, here’s a short video I put together to capture some memories from my weekend getaway!