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Dafen oil painting village

I will be a little repetitive in this entry to try to get some information into search engines, as I had a heck of a time finding any beforehand.

This past Saturday I (and three tutors: Nicole, Nicholle, and Chloe) visited Dafen, a “village” in the greater Shenzhen area.  Shenzhen, for the uninitiated, is the shady border town of 10 million pressing on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s mainland border.  Reaching this border from Lingnan is most easily done by catching bus 261 across the road from campus and riding to Sheung Shui KCR, where one can change for the one-stop-18-HKD East Rail ride up to Lo Wu.  You’ll need a visa, though, and a multiple-entry one if you don’t want to completely waste an entry on Shenzhen.

BEA bank cards didn’t seem to be working on the Mainland side of Luohu that day, but my American card has worked in those machines just fine in the past.  You will want RMB (renminbi) / Chinese Yuan, as these are now worth a little more than HKD and the days of Shenzhen-ers accepting HKD at par may be over for good soon.  Some Y1 coins (or notes) will be useful for the bus fare.

Though it’s in the Shenzhen… big whatever-it-is zone, it’s outside of the Special Economic Zone and a nice bottlenecky internal border.  Dafen (or Da Fen, or 大芬) village, Buji town, Longgang District, Shenzhen City.  You can reach it by local bus 106 from Luohu (3 RMB) or, I’m told, by taxi.  We took the bus, which you too can take by walking straight away from the border on the side of Luohu Commercial City (the big mall) and the coach station (right side of the big square) until you reach the local bus terminus.  It took about 30 or 40 minutes inbound, but on the way back we got clobbered by traffic from the SEZ border on, and it took us maybe a bit under two hours to make it back to Luohu.  Dafen ain’t no village, though: it’s more of a gated development surrounded by respectable-sized buildings.

It’s famous for replicas of Western art, often made in an assembly-line fashion, but we didn’t see that much of that.  Instead, we saw a lot of… more “Thomas Kincaidey” work, according to Nicholle.  There were some very interesting lacquer works and vases and… well, lots of artsy things, really.  All very nice, if you have a house (or even an apartment) to decorate, but not so good for me to buy.  Another widely-reputed Dafen product is the “oilshop,” where an artist puts you, your family, or your friends or victims into a scene of your choice.

There was a pretty good selection of politicians, from the obvious (Mao) to the surprisingly fresh-faced (George W. Bush, after drinking from the Fountain of Youth).  I am thinking of commissioning a portrait of 2008 US presidential contenders in Last Supper style, but I don’t know if they’ll all fit behind the table.

We had lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall dumpling place, where four large trays of dumplings and a bowl of noodles, meats, vegetables, and peanuts cost us 十七元 (17 RMB—I actually understood the Mandarin we were quoted, which was nice).

After our exhausting return (though there won’t be any signs to tell you, you can catch bus 106 back to Luohu at a stop roughly across the street from the one where you hopefully worked out that it was time to get off), we sat down for drinks in LCC.  A milk tea later, I was rushing down the East Rail to Causeway Bay for a dinner.  I think the girls were looking at tailors in LCC.  Good trip, and the start of a full day for me.  I hope that this entry will make it into Google and make it possible to find information like the Dafen bus number more easily, but if you have any questions about visiting Dafen from Hong Kong get in touch with me and I will try to help you.

One Comment

  1. So, what picture did you get yourself painted into? And, that’s rull excitin’ you understood the Mandarin price quote. (Seriously!)

    Posted on 08-Feb-07 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

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