Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
23.12.2009 - 27.12.2009 20 °C
We got on board our night bus in Yangshou - but of course - not without stress.
We had arrived on time (if not early) at the bus station (the only one in Yangshuo) and waited anxiously for our bus in the dark.
Mike (our friend from Guilin) had booked the bus for us and so he had called earlier and left a message with the hotel reception. The message was a scribbled tatty piece of paper which simply had a few numbers on it. When we asked what this meant - the person working at reception had simply said “bus number” and nothing else.
At the station we approached the only kiosk and asked in our best Mandarin whether there was a bus of that number as we couldn’t see it on the board. The lady behind the glass asked for our tickets and so we pulled out the receipt Mike had given us. As soon as she saw this - she waved us away and didn’t want to hear another word from us. We soon realised that everyone else in the station was holding a red ticket which we didn’t have. It was here that panic started to kick in. Had Mike taken our money and made a runner? We had pre-booked our hotel for the next night and so we had to reach Hong Kong no matter what or we would lose a hell of a lot of money.
We waited it out anyway and when the sleeper buses started to drive up we were relieved. The relief however was soon replaced by more panic when we were shooed away by the bus drivers who all wanted to see a ticket. As well as this none of the buses had the number which we were given. After getting shooed away for the 3rd time we realised it was now 30 minutes after the departure of the bus we had booked and so we decided to call Mike.
As it happens the bus which we were booked on was 40 minutes behind schedule (which is odd in itself as everything so far had run exactly on time in China). Mike explained to us that he had told the driver we were waiting and luckily it turned up …with get this… the number plate being the number we were given and not the actual number of the bus!!!!
We boarded shaking our heads realising for the first time how difficult this was getting - but after about an hour we settled into our sleeper seats. These were just like the Vietnamese sleeper buses - the only difference being that the seats were narrower and longer.
After 10 hours of broken sleep and watching Chinese films we arrived into Shenzhen. This city sits on the border with Hong Kong and it was from here that we could cross customs and then move on. The bus started to stop frequently and before long we were being told to get off along with 8 other backpackers. We got off, but soon became confused when we found we had simply been dumped at the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. There was one bus stop and all the information on the board was written in Chinese! One of the other backpackers had heard the driver shout the number ‘7’ as he drove off so we waited to see what buses would come by. After about an hour a number 7 came by and we all got on. Of course the driver didn’t speak any English and so we ended up getting on without paying as no one could communicate with him. After about 40 minutes driving around the city of Shenzhen at 7am we finally stopped at a bus station… and the border point!
We crossed the border and completed all the immigration formalities within a matter of minutes and before long we were on Hong Kong soil and riding the underground heading into the city.
We found our way to our hotel and we settled in for the next few days.
We pretty much chilled out for the next few days. We spent a lot of time watching Christmas TV (in English yay!!!!) in our glorious hotel room and eating and drinking loads.
We went shopping and wondered around the different markets, temples, malls and bars.
We even tested out the Mid Level Escalators which run right through the City - the longest in the world!
Hong Kong is really really overcrowded and we did feel a sense of claustrophobia when we went to the main shopping areas around the Island - that and the fact that there were millions of people everywhere didn’t help. But then again - we had chosen to be here during Christmas - so what else would you expect.
We loved Hong Kong and it was amazing to be there during Christmas especially as there were decorations everywhere and it actually felt like Christmas for the first time since Singapore! The weather was also warmer than before - about 20 degrees warmer than Yangshuo! and so we loved just walking and taking in the city and all it had to offer in tshirts!!!!!
For the most part - well in the evenings anyway... as we were wondering around we would get the oddest feeling that we were walking in the Channel 4 advertisement....
After spending 5 nights in Hong Kong we have now booked ourselves onto a sleeper train which will take us to Xian - home of the terracotta warriors! (some 30 hours later!!! - YES - it will be our longest commute so far on this trip and we don’t have a clue as to how we will cope!)…. all we can say right now is ...watch this space!