After a day trip to Hangzhou and before Hong Kong, we stopped by Shenzhen for a day and half. We are both engineers and thought a visit to this rising technology hub would be a fun idea. A friend worked at Tencent at the time, and we got a tour of the office building. Somehow I felt a bit of monotony in the areas we went in this newly developed city, as if everything everywhere was for tech and business and I was longing for some balance. Still, it was quite eye opening to see the scale of booming tech in Shenzhen and we had a tasty dinner at a BBQ joint co-owned by Mark Obama Ndesandjo, Barack Obama’s half brother.
Electronics malls in Huaqiang North
Once upon a time, I was an electrical engineering major and worked with circuit boards. In Shenzhen, it felt like tech vendors are everywhere, from lower level components to consumer gadgets like mini scooters. We have been to electronics malls in Taipei and Shanghai, but the scale in Shenzhen was beyond my imagination. Walking down the street, most of people seemed to be here for business, scoping out for deals and products.
About half an hour car ride from the electronics mall area, we arrived at one of Tencent buildings to meet with my friend who worked at Tencent in legal department. With market value more than 400 billion USD, it is perhaps the biggest software company in Asia. Having visited tech companies in the Silicon Valley and Amazon in Seattle, the interior and entertainment areas were not unlike those in the US. My friend had a personal trainer and showed us the giant full basketball court, however he also mentioned the long hours. “996” was not a term back then, but it sounds consistent.
Cabin BBQ co-owned by Mark Obama
It is less known that previous US President Barack Obama has a half brother who grew up in Kenya, educated in the US, and has moved to Shenzhen since 2002. Cabin BBQ is a restaurant that he co-owns with a friend. In this BBQ restaurant, we saw no mention of Obama at all, just fresh and tasty BBQ skewers at a reasonable price.
Our stay in Fraser Suites apartment hotel was one of the most memorable, at a very affordable price given the space and facilities. Our apartment was modern and came with everything we could think of, including kitchen and laundry. My favorite was the swimming pool on the rooftop. I did a few laps, took a few shots with my camera, and watched another guest vlogging his pool experience.
As the last stop of our travel in China, Shenzhen is quite different from all the others we visited on this trip. This city is so new and tech driven, almost everything felt like it was based on business. Fancy cars, shopping malls, and housing just for investment. After Shenzhen, we were ready to take a subway to the other side of the firewall, Hong Kong.
Here are posts about other cities we visited on the same trip: