The Shenzhen International Exhibition Centre is vast a huge multifunction hall, nine separate exhibition halls and several convention halls.

We have to admit to a liking for both commercial exhibitions and new cars so when the Shenzhen International Motor exhibition came up we were there.

We were mystified when, on exiting the Huizhan Zhongxin Metro station, we had to fight our way through hustlers selling exhibition tickets at $10. Very cheap, they promised. But we’ve been around so we relentlessly pressed on, down through the adjacent building site and up the stairs of the Exhibition Centre.

What a building! It must stretch for half a mile, all grey glistening granite and glass. And as we climbed the stairs, the vista of the central plaza between the Exhibition Centre and the Civic Centre gradually opened up to us. We’re kids at heart and we couldn’t resist the temptation to find the exact spot in the centre of the Exhibition Centre from which we could look to the middle of the Civic Centre. To each side we could see the curtain walls

of skyscrapers on either side. The garden on top of the axis building has matured at an amazing rate it’s the tropics! and it’s spectacular. And, in a nod to the real aspirations of Shenzheners, a shopping centre and underground car park occupy the axis building between the Exhibition Centre and the Civic Centre.

We mounted the grey granite stairs and walked what seemed several miles through grey granite halls. The roof looked like they were about five hundred feet high and the granite was broken occasionally by shimmering grey glass. We were waiting for choirs of angels to break out into songs of praise. Finally we found room 216 where they sold the tickets and discovered that there were pluses and minuses to buying tickets from the touts at the Metro station. On the plus side, they were half the price of the standard ones which were $20; on the minus side, they were fake and the exhibition organisers had changed the design, even the colour of the legal tickets. Ah, Shenzhen.

The show was terrific. The boy factor was big but there were plenty of wives and girlfriends to take photos of their boys in front of Maseratis, Cadillac sports cars and other exotic vehicles. The bourgeoisie were carefully sorting themselves into aspirational classes at the GM display. Were they Chevrolet people, Buick people or Cadillac people? Difficult to tell before they’d piled the wife and kid into one of the displays, turned the wheel and tooted the horn several times. The Jeep display seemed to be nothing more than an excuse for the purveyors of highlights to display the sine qua nons of the Jeep lifestyle: binoculars which could see amazing distances in the dark, camouflage trousers, flack jackets and the like. No AK-47s unfortunately, or at least not that we could see. Maybe they were stacked in the back of the black police Porsche SUVs we are not making this up.

We liked the highlight displays. Some were very exciting. A Chinese made Chery, a Mini-sized car, got us particularly excited with its 20-inch DVD screen and a sound system which would deafen most mortals in a normal sized house. But there were plenty of cars that appealed to the girls who were showing almost the same level of enthusiasm as the boys.

The level of noise was unbelievable; loud rock music, videos blasting from cars, kids yelling and screaming. Dante would have felt at home although we personally felt that this was representative of a circle of Hell that he and Virgil hadn’t quite reached. We decided to take a break with the family groups outside in the refreshment area: brightly coloured umbrellas, family groups, noodle stands, McDonalds, iced lemon tea. Sanity restored.

Address: Binhe Expressway Futian

Metro: Hui Zhan Zhong Xin on lines 1 and 4 Buses: 153335103229235337416434448474483505548




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