It’s raining, again. Our summer has consisted of weeklong downpours and toxic heat that leaves me dizzy after even short walks. Outside my window, yet another typhoon (third in the past two months), which hasn’t landed in Shenzhen, but nevertheless blown in and lingered. Stir-crazy after so much time indoors, I decide to go to the Mangrove Bay Park and check out the water. Mangrove Bay Park is technically a natural reserve, but since the land reclamation project and re-zoning of coastal land reshaped this part of the city, it’s at best a mini-reserve with a few herons and birds I don’t recognize.
To reach the Mangrove Park, I ride the 101 from Tianmian to Window of the World, along Shennan road. My plan is to jump of the bus and then walk through the new roads that have been laid in the reclaimed land—on my way to Mangrove, I’m interested in photographing views of the old coastline before it has been filled in with housing developments, shopping malls, and greenspace. However, the actual layout of the land thwarts my plan. I knew that the themeparks had been built along the old coastline, but what I hadn’t realized that therefore there was no way through them to the new coastline. Accordingly I have to walk another mile or so west along Shennan road toward Shahe road, where I can finally veer south toward the bay.
I walk under grey skies, trudge through sidewalks covered in pools of muddy water (construction site run-off), and then squish past a clump of people waiting out the rain under a plastic awning. My umbrella keeps my face and torso dry, but my pants are already soaked and now cling to my knees. Once on Shahe road, I make another discovery—the reclaimed land has been fenced off and I find myself maneuvering to get my body, umbrella, and camera safely through openings in order to snap a quick picture. Can anthropology be reduced to this technically illicit, but in fact simply drippy sneaking around?
But then the sunlight stuns me. The rays that do manage their way past the storm clouds illuminate the landscape with unexpected beauty, indeed with a delicacy that I had never associated with Shenzhen. Nanshan Mountain shimmers on the horizon. A rainbow touches earth in Hong Kong. Even Shennan Road and Binhai Highway glow. Shenzhen transformed, radiant even. Photos from that walk can be viewed at: http://pics.livejournal.com/maryannodonnell/gallery/0000dbeh.