Shenzhen 2011, Day 4/5: Incredible people, incredible places

To all of you who have been loyally following my blogs while I’ve been in China (hi mom and dad!) I apologize for missing last night’s post. Early start, then a late night getting back from a soccer game. So this will have to account for two days.

Anyway, I’m going to stray from what’s become my previous formula of discussing what I’d done that day to talk about what’s been the most striking thing I’ve experienced since landing in China. The people.

Volunteers, hotel staff, store clerks, even random people on the streets of Shenzhen, they’ve all amazed me. They have somehow found a way to put out a charming brand of shyness, while being outgoing and breaking their necks to help us foreigners.

Let me give you an example. Last night, myself and three other Canadians were trying to get from a bus station to the soccer stadium. In typical North American fashion, our speech was limited to English or, well English. Hopelessly lost in this bus station, we were approached by an ordinary Shenzhen citizen, not a volunteer or employee.

We could tell he barely spoke a word of English, but he stared at the map we had and watched our lips intently, trying his best to help us. Eventually he pointed us in (vaguely) the right direction, but the fact that this total stranger stopped to try and help people who didn’t remotely speak the native tongue amazed me.

As much as a love being Canadian and love that we have a ‘nice guy’ reputation, I don’t see to many Torontonians stopping to help four Chinese people that don’t speak a word of English.

While the people have wowed me right from the time I landed in Shenzhen, for the last few days they’ve had some competition.

I’ve now been in three Universaide venues and I don’t think referring to this event as a ‘mini-Olympics’ does it justice.

First I was introduced to the massive stadium with the parting wall that hosted the opening ceremonies and I thought ‘ok, no way the other venues are anything like this.’ Then I went to watch Canada play China in women’s soccer.

The stadium looked like it was ready to host a World Cup game. And the 40,000 seats, almost all of which were filled with screaming Chinese fans, made the atmosphere even more incredible.

By the way, Canada lost that game 1-0 and they now have to win on Tuesday versus Chinese Taipei to make the quarterfinals. Laurier’s Alyssa Lagonia is a co-captain.

Today, I went to watch beach volleyball and yet again the facility exceeded my wildest expectations. Built right on the beach, surrounded by mountains, this stadium looked like something that was picked up from the Beijing games and dropped here for us lowly University-folk (I hope my sad attempt at photography at least somewhat illustrates this).

For a quick update on the games, the second day of competition is finished (it’s Sunday night here) and there’s seven left. Canada still doesn’t have a medal, while China and Japan are tied for the lead with five gold medals. Japan leads the total tally with 14.

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