Hank, me, Hank's niece, and the neighbor kids who were in and out all day.
That being said, there really wasn't much to Shenzhen. It's a dirty, sticky, hot, and humid Chinese city with a lot of people living in cramped apartments. We mostly went to visit our friend, Hank, whom you'd remember from this blog about a year back. We went to visit his village in Guizhou during Chinese New Year last year and had an epic time. So even though Shenzhen was more developed and technically there were more things to do, it didn't even hold a candle to last year's trip.
One thing to say about this trip, though, was that it was a cultural experience. We stayed with Hank, his sister, and her husband in their tiny apartment in Bao'An. Hank sleeps on a makeshift bed made of a piece of plywood and some blankets in what we Americans would call the living room, and his sister and brother in law sleep in the bedroom with their two year-old baby girl. Their kitchen is the size of a closet, and the no-flush squatty pottie, running water, and buckets where all the dishes are done is right next to that. So much for "Don't s**t where you eat."
Still, Hank and his sister were gracious hosts. His sister churned out an awesome dinner from that tiny little kitchen on her little hot plate stove. We bonded with the neighbor kids playing with a ball and showing them pictures and movies on Jason's laptop. And somehow... SOMEHOW... I managed to maneuver my American-sized butt in their bathroom to take a much-needed cold shower without falling into the no-flush toilet. Staying with your local friends in China is often an intense cultural experience, but it definitely does put things into perspective as far as being appreciative of the blessings that are poured out on us daily.
Our favorite part of the trip, though, was meeting these two little girls while we were out walking. The older one was taking care of the smaller girl, but something about their glasses and the older girl's wild gesticulations and the way the little girl sort of shuffled her feet behind them was so endearing. Jason immediately said, "They look like little grandmas." So true. They looked exactly like two little grandmothers. So we called them "Xiao Nai Nai" for the rest of the trip and would start laughing wildly just thinking about them.
The "little grandmas" or "xiao nai nai."
Hank and I do our own interpretation of the Xiao Nai Nai
Even though I probably wouldn't go out of my way to visit Shenzhen again in the future, it was still sweet being reunited with a good friend and making good memories in the short time we were there. I miss Hank a lot and often think about him and his sister, who still doesn't know Father. I am grateful for the deeper relationships Jason and I have built in our relatively short time in China.
Hank's beautiful niece and sister.