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  • Exploring the Shenzhen Urban Village Apple Maps Forgot

    By Sky Gidge, February 22, 2017

    1 0

    A single English blog post and a 2008 newspaper article tipped us off to the existence of Shasi village. An urban village north of Bao'an Airport and a bus ride away from Shajing Station on the new Line 11.

    Amazingly, the area shows up as a blank space on the phone versions of Apple and Baidu maps. Though the desktop version of Baidu does represent it, the area is apparently mislabelled and walking directions can't be provided. 

    Shajing-Shi-Si-photos1.JPG

    Down an alleyway in the center of the village we found the Weitou Well, dating from the mid Qing Dynasty, according to a nearby sign, the well is still in use, though washing clothes in it is forbidden.

    Shajing-Shi-Si-photos2.JPG

    Chickens, dogs and children run about the area's narrow alleyways, with these puppies making sure we didn't stray into their turf. Despite the animals and people in close quarters, things are surprisingly clean.

    Shajing-Shi-Si-photos-banner.JPG

    Arriving at the Guanyin Tianhou Temple we were met with a locked door. Asking around, the locals became instantly more friendly when we switched to Cantonese. "There is an old woman with a key, if you knock on her door, she will open the temple," a man told us in a Dongguan dialect.

    This lead us to the front door of Aunt Xie, a lifelong village resident tasked with tending the temple. After unlocking the temple door, Aunt Xie lit incense and set a buddhist chant to play on a loop through a tinny speaker.

    Shajing-Shi-Si-photos8.JPG

    A plaque inside the temple commemorates a 1829 rebuilding and notes that a local man had passed the highest level of imperial examinations. Aunt Xie said nearby buildings dated from the 1940s, when she first married.

    Shajing-Shi-Si-photos7.JPG

    Unlike other urban villages in Shenzhen – former villages that have been surrounded on all sides by the high rises that define the city – Shasi hasn't become low-rent housing for the city's just arrived. Instead, a community from the young to the old remains. 

    Shajing-Shi-Si-photos3.JPG

    Shajing-Shi-Si-photos9.JPG

    With the night setting, Aunt Xie became concerned we wouldn't be able to find our way out. She led us down winding alleyways until we reached a road. Smoke from outdoor fires was thick in the air when we snapped this final picture of two scooters passing by.

    With the opening of Line 11 the Shajing area and Shasi village are more accessible than ever, but the new subway line also means development in the area will likely speed up, with Shasi property owners speculating online that buildings may be knocked down in 2017. 

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