When planning our trip to Hong Kong, we decided to make a quick trip over the boarder to Shenzhen. Alyssa is studying Chinese at school, and I love gadget/tech so we decided one night, or 24 hrs would be a good stay as it's only a 1hr train from HK, but in retrospect I'd allow 3-4 days to do the markets and do some sightseeing. Getting a visa was relatively simple from Lo Wu.
Exchange rates and pricing were great (Times Yuan by 0.21 for AUD) so we decided to splash out on our night in Shenzhen and stayed at the Sheraton Futian. It had great access to the malls on Huaqinag road, just two train stops away.
If you've bought things from eBay, AliExpress or other online stores - you've probably already bought things from Shenzhen. (I'm typing this from a mini portable BlueTooth keyboard.) We heard the sound of online shipping when walking around the massive tech markets - the sound of masking tape being wrapped around boxes was almost all you could hear. The markets were huge like a massive department store, but had been divided into 4m x 4m stalls. Some shops were bigger, taking 4 stalls and a couple on the higher floors selling big ticket items whitegoods, TVs etc. were 10 bays.
Our first trip to Huaqiang Road we started walking. Looking at the map, it was only two blocks, but two blocks in Shenzhen is like 10 in Melbourne. Buying tokens for the trains is easy, once you dicover the blue button in the bottom corner, written in Chinese that says English. :) The two stops cost 6 Yuan for the three of us. You might wonder how that is a reasonable profit margin, until you see the crowds of people constantly using public transport.
The great wall of China
An interesting downside was the complete and total abscense of Google. It makes me realise how much Google has changed the way I live when I have access to everything (i think) apart from Google - no maps, no OK Google to find out trivia or weather or directions, no google maps, no Google search, no Google maps... Needless to say, my 'All in' on Google services, and the Google Pixel XL as my device of choice, wasn't a good combo in China. Luckily GPS and Google Maps still worked, and I had droppped pins on all the 'places to see'. [Tip: Take an old Android, download the maps 'pack' and drop a bunch of pins before you hit Shenzhen.)
As far as being connected, Facebook and most other large social medias didn't update but they did cache, so you felt like you were in a time warp. I can't imagine that as a permanent situation, but I did discover WeChat which is the mega platform in Asia that replaces Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Like Tokyo, alot of the retail and pedestrians are underground. You can walk between trainlines and shop for pretty much anything, and there are displays of memorabilia and museum-like exhibits.
Beer is cheap and accessable, Tsingtao was 6 Yuan or $1.25 AUD and still had the old ring pull. Not craft, but better than VB :)