MARK YOUR TERRITORY
Our tour of Humen, the town slated to become a city sometime before 2020, begins with the places that make it a home. We’re talking about the neighborhoods that make for posh, oasis living. Much of Humen is a sea of factories and dormitories and smaller mid-level living is available, but recent growth in real estate trended toward high-end residential gardens for Humen’s prosperous citizens.
Dibiao Square, seen below towering over the popular Rainbow Mall, is a good choice if you need access to the highways and shopping. While the Fengtai Yutian Garden, located just off the map in Xinlian Village, is known for its serene Polynesian-style environment, it’s also whispered to be the site of official executions during more tumultuous times. But when it comes to upper-crust living, it’s tough to match the polish of Vanke Zitai with its underground streets that deliver townhome owners to their back door.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CLOTHES
across the range from single-wears to lifetime wardrobes. Huanghe is the wholesale market where anything can be found, which makes the Humen Avenue traffic the worst in town. It also makes it possible to get those not-so-name brand, name brands. Times are changing, but if you ask for the catalogue and wink, you might still see what I mean. For traditional mall shopping, Rainbow mall is the most popular. And for smaller imported goods, try Ronghua Hong Kong Goods Store located on what locals call Old Street.
GET DOWN TONIGHT
We’ve got to hand it to Humen’s nightspots, they really make small town living hop. If you want to impress a client by spending a lot on the bill, take a junket through Life Club. If you’re into the techno seen, the folks we spoke to recommended House Club. We should ask here, which came first the name or the building? Because this spot located on the corner of Buyetian Food Street is, well, built like a house. Either way, when you’re looking for the crowd, it’s actually SOHO Club where you’ll find them. The façade there is imposing although the place isn’t so big. It still manages to draw the biggest crowd of faithful party goers.
Of course, we found a couple places that aren’t so heavy on the thump-meter. If you’re the type that would rather drink a beer than pound back shots between bass droppings. In alphabetical order, try LA Mix to throw some darts in a cool local-style bar, and Utopia for your Western-ish style fix.
SPOTS TO PASS THE TIME
It doesn’t matter who you ask—a local, a foreigner, the 50 people handing out flyers at any crosswalk—when you want to know what to do or see in Humen, the first response is going to be Humen Park. Perched atop one of Humen’s unshaven patchwork of hills, the pagoda takes only a few minutes to climb to.
Now you’re not going to get a full day’s worth of fun from this next one either, but nobody will fault you for waving back to the sea turtles in the Lung Chuen Hotel shark tank. Maybe you check it out after eating some dim sum and on the way for an afternoon dip in Humen’s favorite pool positioned atop the Rainbow Mall, and a romantic stroll over Humen Avenue in the evening.
THE CREEPY AND THE SPOOKY
There is little in Dongguan as iconic as the Humen Bridge, if you’ve driven across the Pearl River on the hanging bridge, you’ll know it’s smart to pack a travel game to pass the time as you creep along in traffic. What you might not know is the urban legend of the Nanmian Village Haunted House. Under the Dongguan side of the bridge, this dilapidated structure has sadly been the location of violent crime. Now, hushed conversations recount fears of ending up dead in the high grass surrounding the building.
EAT EM’ UP
For tourists Weiyuan Island, home to the Sea Battle Museum and battlements are worth checking out, but foodies might want to check out the little known, but comfy spots just across the Zhenyuan Bridge. Pop into the Putianyuan Vegetarian Restaurant and after relax for sip at the Coffee Garden. For recommendations, the biggest draw is Buyetian Square where you can dine in open air with hundreds of Humeners for seafood, shop for your own at the Xinwan Wet Market or get your dim sum fix at popular Lung Chuen Hotel. If you’re still on Weiyuan, the Pengji Restaurant draws people in for BBQ ribs from all over Dongguan.
As the day goes on, traveling around Humen quickly becomes a practice in orienting yourself by the Mels Weldon hotel. Once the tallest building in Dongguan, it is still known by most locals as “the old Sofitel.” Below it is probably the most bizarre offering of the town’s affluence. Famed Belgian artist Arne Quinze’s modern art installation, Natural Chaos, is said to have been purchased for around US$1.5 million. Classing up the list of landmarks is the Grand Nobel and its tribute to the working women of Humen, Fontaine de l’Observatoire And we can’t leave out the Humen Sea Battle Museum, locals will tell you to skip it, but we say it’s good fun.
Photos by Chen Dongyue