It's a grey day in Shenzhen. I'm walking out of my hotel in a daze, the kind of daze you get when you're not hungover but you're not sober either.
On my left is a dilapidated sauna, long closed. Across the street some small local restaurants and a middle-eastern cafe, no doubt set up to service the hotel I'm in.
I decide to take a walk despite the weather and my inexplicable decision to depart without an umbrella.
I've been coming to Shenzhen on and off for over 15 years. My first trip here was with my mother and grandmother to 'Window of the World'.
Yes, that's the Colosseum and Eifel Tower next to each other
I was sulky half the trip until I got bought a little gemstone. I'll never forget quite how impressed my grandmother was with the place. In hindsight, it's pretty fucking amazing. They've got miniature versions of all the major world attractions in one place. Hats off to whoever thought of the idea.
As I continue my hazy walk a scooter zips by. On it is a blonde haired boy. I say, boy, because he's clearly a teenager - an early one too. No helmet, no protection, and not a care in the world. In other places, this might not make sense. But this is Shenzhen.
I walk a little further and an old hunchbacked man is sitting on some elevated steps leading to some non-descript building. He is drinking a canned beer and having lunch. He gives me a toothless grin and the thumbs up 👍
Not a little further and I'm in Sea World, a development full of shops, restaurants, and most importantly an old ship hollowed out and turned into an F&B paradise. Next to it looms a high-rise office block, no doubt built in the last few years.
In the span of 10 minutes, it feels like I've been exposed to the past, present, and future of Shenzhen. I've been constantly impressed by how the city has grown over the years, from a backwater to the modern metropolis that it is. This is hardly a unique observation but I certainly felt it this trip attending TechCrunch Shenzhen. But that's a post for another day.