All that to say...I'm really glad that I'm decently good at Mandarin because I don't know how else I'd have the confidence to travel around the city. (Can you tell I've never really traveled in countries where none of the language I speak are used?
Last week, we took a subway and a bus to Fairy Lake Botanical Garden in the LuoHu District of ShenZhen.
It's gigantic. And beautiful. We didn't really know what to expect, or how to find out way around once we got inside the gardens, but we alternated between "following the crowd" (Angel's preferred navigation strategy) and "reading the map" (mine, but it requires looking up the meanings of characters).
This Botanical Gardens has a 20 RMB entry fee ($3.30), and inside are quite a variety of attractions, including temples and hiking trails, but most interesting to us was the lake and the variety of themed gardens. The garden I really wanted to see was the "Petrified Forest", made up of pieces of petrified tree trunks that were dug up in archeological digs, mostly in northwest China, and brought to this garden to be displayed.
Part of the petrified forest. It was the area we had the highest expectations for in visiting the garden, and we enjoyed it the most! The petrified tree trunks looked pretty surreal. There was a Paleontological Museum next door, but it was closed, otherwise I would have liked to see what they had.
You can see the lake behind me. Air quality (due to pollution) wasn't too great the day we went, which is why the background looks a bit hazy.
Angel's best discovery: A bubblegum-flavored popsicle.
I've long been a fan of the look of road signs bearing languages other than English.
One themed garden was full of statues of all the animals from the China calendar. Angel decided the rooster was his favorite.
Another themed garden had busts of famous Chinese botanists and scientists who had played a big role in discovering and naming plant species in this country. I was very intrigued by this garden, it was educational!
Do you have any good strategies for finding your way around a new city when you don't have a GPS?