More shopping areas I can deal with.
'It's comfortable, like in Europe' said my Friend Hu Fang when I asked him about the train journey to Shenzhen, a city that has mushroomed out of nothing on the border between China and Hong Kong.
He was right. The air-conditioned train cuts effortlessly through the landscape, speeding past rice paddies, black rivers, and endless buildings ranging in size from small to enormous.
I have spent the last two weeks in the city of Guangzhou, and this is my first journey through the Pearl River Delta. I'd hoped for a sense of relief, a view of the landscape, after the closeness of the city. But twenty minutes outside the city I still don't see anything that resembles my idea of outside.
Shenzhen only exists because of Hong Kong. In the early 1980s it was still a small town; today it is home to three million people. The border between the cities is the busiest in the world.
When I walk out of the train station the first thing I see are bare, green hills. Those exposed hills are 'the Hong Kong special administrative region'. Their bareness looks wrong. They make me think of the naked skin of a shaved dog or cat.
Today I won't be crossing the border. I'll stay in China and walk among the golden skyscrapers of Shenzhen.
Along the way I'm greeted by older woman who are willing to accompany me to the hotel across the street. They make it look very natural. They stretch their arms to direct me, like tourist guides. The women aren't very attractive, though. They smile, but their eyes are glazed with sorrow.
Beside usual KFCs and Mc Donald's restaurants, there are a surprising number of dentists in Shenzhen. I saw several dental clinics even before I got out of the station. They must serve people from Hong Kong, who cross the border to get their teeth done.
Walking further into Shenzhen, I can't decipherer the buildings and big streets anymore. I could be in Guangzhou or Beijing. I follow the people around me and end up in crowded commercial streets, where loud music blares from every shop.
The noise, the people, the colours are drowning me. I want to get out of here. But in every direction I look I see more streets filled with people. This city is suffocating me.
In Guangzhou there is the river, which I can escape to. In Beijing the Forbidden City in the centre functions as a breathing point. Shenzhen is not built along a river or around a centre, but against a barbed-wire fence in front of dark green hills.
I take a taxi and point out the biggest green spot on my map. Twenty minutes later the car stops in front of a park gate. I have to buy a ticket to get in. The woman behind the counter gives me a folder with a map of the park.
'What's that?' I ask, pointing at a yellow star on a hill in the park.
She studies the point of my finger. 'Shopping,' she says.
'What, more shopping?'
'Deng shopping,' she says.
I tell her that I've seen more shopping areas I can deal with today.
She repeats the words again, pointing at photo of a big statue on the back of the folder. It's a statue of Deng Xiaoping, China's party leader from 1978 until 1997. He was the man who opened China's doors to the world economy with the slogan 'To get Rich is Glorious' and ignited China's economic revolution. Shenzhen itself is a direct product of that revolution.
'Deng Sshhhiaaooopping,' she repeats again, smiling now with more determination. Shenzhen