This entry finds me in my hotel room in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. I set out from Qingdao at 7:45 this morning for Shenzhen, gateway to Hong Kong and reportedly a city in its own right, but not one in which I was planning on spending any time. Flying in China is significantly less stressful than air travel in the States, where I have plenty of time to imagine planes exploding in between throwing out any and all liquids I forgot I had on me and taking off my shoes. Not only was security a breeze, but the in-flight movie was High School Musical 2!
Of course, I didn’t completely bypass Shenzhen. Once I landed at the airport I hurried over to a bus, bought a ticket to Hong Kong (a bridge connects the SAR, or “Special Administrative Region,” as Hong Kong is known [Hong Kong is made up of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Lantau Island, Lamma Island and a few more islands known as the “New Territories”] to mainland China), and lined up immediately. The ride to the customs station evidenced Shenzhen’s climate to indeed be sub-tropical. It looked a bit like Florida, a bit like California. There was a Tuscan-villa-style development off of the highway at one point that struck the most surreal note, but the landscape was mostly dotted with brightly colored yet rundown-looking apartment complexes. That’s not to say it wasn’t pretty, and I really enjoyed seeing palm trees again.
The bus ride took, in total, almost three hours. That includes the time I spent in customs, but that doesn’t make the loss of half a day any less painful. I flew into Shenzhen to save money, as a direct flight to Hong Kong is considered international (so much for re-unification). While taking the bus did save money, my primary concern is typically budgeting my time well enough to see as much as possible. I’d suggest flying directly to Hong Kong to anyone who can’t afford to spend so much time in transit.
I finally plunked my things down in my hotel (which, might I add, I found by myself – on foot) at roughly four o’clock in the afternoon. The day was warm but overcast, so I decided to walk over to one of the more famous malls in the area, where I commenced shopping for about five hours. What can I say? They have really awesome shopping (and they take American Express!)
I told myself that I’d spend every waking hour outside exploring the city, but night has crept up on me and I’m exhausted, having been up since 5:30am. Add to that a cough I can’t get rid of (I’m ready for spring, but my upper-respiratory system isn’t) and I have to admit defeat. Tonight I’m curling up with the first issue of American Vogue I’ve seen in six months (hurrah for imports!) and relishing my extra-big bed. Tomorrow: all I know is that I’m determined to wake up at 7am and do some serious sightseeing. Stay tuned!