If you could choose a city, which one would it be?

I took a cab to get to my new flat the other day.

Cab driver: “Where are you from?”
I: “Austria, and you?”
Cd: “I’m Chinese!”
I: “But where are you from in China?”
Cd: “Hubei. How old are you? Twenty-something?”
I: “Yes, I’m 25. How about you?”
Cd: “I’m 32.”
I: “You look younger than that.”
Cd: “You must have been to a lot of places in China.”
I: “I’ve been to Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing, Changsha, Kunming, and lots of smaller places.”
Cd: “For traveling?”
I: “I studied one year in Kunming, the other places I went to were just for fun. Which places in China have you been to?”
Cd: “Beijing, Tianjin, Harbin, Shanghai, Xian, Chongqing, …”
I: “For traveling?”
Cd: “No, I’ve been working in all these cities. You know, doing this and that and then leaving for a new place after a year or two.”
I: “That’s a lot of places to have worked in. Which one did you like the best?”
Cd: “Oh, I don’t really know. Chinese cities – when it comes down to it, they are all the same.”
I: “If you could choose only one, which one would it be?”
Cd: “Actually I’ve heard that Chengdu is a nice city to live in. The pace is much slower than here in Shenzhen. But you know, a person like me, from Hubei, doesn’t go to a city like Chengdu. We go to the bigger cities. Which languages do you speak?”
I: “Chinese, English and German.”
Cd: “Guten Tag!”
I: “Oh, where did you learn that?”
Cd: “From a German guy.”
I: “A friend?”
Cd: “No, a passenger. I have passengers from all over the world. How do you say thanks in German?”
I: “Danke.”
Cd: “Danke. And good-bye? Tschüss?”
I: “Yes, exactly. Do your foreign passengers usually speak Chinese?”
Cd: “Some do, some don’t. Once I had a British passenger. She wasn’t able to speak Mandarin Chinese, but she could converse fluently in Cantonese.”
I: “That’s amazing. Has she been living in Hongkong before?”
Cd: “Yes, she’s been living there for 18 years.”
I: “Do you understand Cantonese?”
Cd: “I do. Don’t you?”
I: “I don’t, it’s really different from Mandarin!”

As we arrive at the destination, he asks:
“All this heavy stuff, will you be able to carry that on your own?”
I: “Of course, I can take the elevator.”
Cd: “Okay. Baibai!”
I: “Baibai!”

If you could choose any city in the world to live in, which one would it be and why?

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12 thoughts on “If you could choose a city, which one would it be?

  1. Taipei. I feel like my standard of living is really high and I get to have a life I never thought I would be able to have. 🙂 Very interesting conversations. 🙂 I would like to visit some of the places in China.

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    • Taipei is definitely on the list of cities I would like to visit in the foreseeable future. So far I haven’t been able to make it to Taiwan, but I hope this will change soon. The PR China has lots of beautiful places to visit, I’ll be publishing posts about some of the places I’ve been to on my blog. And thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I think location chooses you more than you choose it. I want to be where I can be most useful.

    I am curious where Hemingway would have traveled if he had been early 21st century rather than early to 20th. Where does one go for inspiration and vitality these days?

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    • Very well said. But you still need to be open to the idea that location chooses you if you want it to choose you, right? Meaning that you probably still need to take a first step and go to a place you’re not familiar with if you want to find a location that chooses you.

      I’m often wondering if life would be easier in some aspects if the world was less globalised and you didn’t have to think too much about spending your life somewhere else than the place you were born.

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  3. There are some cities that you visit where you just feel like you could live there forever. Personally, I love Boston and Macau. For living, I would pick a place for like Vancouver and San Francisco. I’ve been going from city to city, trying to find home. and I often ask myself the same question. Many people don’t get to travel or rarely think bigger. I often feel like I’ll never find home and wonder if home is not more of a person than a city.

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    • That’s a good point. I think there are places that you’ll love from the beginning just for the beauty of a place. The people you’ll meet in the process of living there might make staying there worthwhile. And then there are places you might not like that much in the beginning but which you’ll get to love for a person/the people there. Hope you’ll find home eventually. I’m not sure yet I’ve found a city I can call home, but I’ve found a person who gives me the feeling of being at home.

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      • I’ve always been a tourist and haven’t actually uprooted my entire life to live in another country until now. I found your blog cause you commented on one of my posts. (http://anewsummer.wordpress.com where you gave me advice as to where to find foreign food in Shenzhen). I often feel homesick and I realize now that even though I don’t love Montreal (my hometown), I love it because my friends and family are there. I always thought of home as a place and now that I’ve been away from home for 6 months, I think I’ve come to realize that home is a group of people.

        Since the second I stepped in Vancouver, I always to move there. Realistically, the city is very expensive to live in. I think home is what you make of it.

        I really enjoy your blog. I feel like you blog for the reader. You end the post with questions, which, I think, is very interesting. Where in Shenzhen do you live? I’m all over in the East in Longgang.

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  4. I was searching for blogs with the phrase Shenzhen the other day, that’s how I came across your blog. I don’t eat a lot of western food here, but from time to time I prepare Austrian dishes for my boyfriend who loves eating home-made potato soup and the like. He’s also the one who showed me where to find some of the things I was looking for.

    I’m living in Nanshan district, quite far away from Longgang. Shenzhen is such a huge city, I feel like there are thousands of places I haven’t seen yet.

    I’m happy to hear that you like reading my blog. I love reading other people’s experiences who are in similar situations or readers’ comments on a particular topic.

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    • Some search for things like “working in China” or “which city is best for living in China”, but some also search for topics quite different from the actual content. It also seems to come up when looking for “torture” and “China”, which is unintentional. “My life in Shenzhen” probably suits the content of this blog quite well.

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  5. Pingback: 1st anniversary of China Elevator Stories | China elevator stories

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