We coached to Hong Kong from Nanning, leaving at 9.10pm. Stopped a couple of times along the way for a wee piddle or such like.
I suppose it was about 10 hours to the border then around 40 minutes through immigration, then another 30/40 minutes by bus into Tsim Sha Tsui.
Not bad, time wise BUT from a 'was it comfortable?' viewpoint, not very!
I've overnight coached before in China, on several occasions, thrice in the past year. Now, with hindsight, I was obviously very lucky on all past excursions.
On previous occasions I had always managed to get an overnight coach with just two lines of beds, one down each side, so, the bunks were wide enough and just about long enough to have a little stretch out, with a nice airy space in between.
No such luck this time - Bunks down each side plus an additional line down the middle, in effect, three across. Hardly enough bunk width to lay on your back. So your arms are either left flailing or you need to position them on your chest - just as well I'm not a busty women then! Oh and shorter in bunk length.
OK, I'm older, probably less inclined to be just that little bit more tolerant of difficult situations.
I don't mind admitting when we first entered onto the coach my first reaction was to turn to Nana and say, What the f… are we doing?…lets fly instead.
She, in turn, in her lovely calming 'perfect wife, I'll make it right' way, casually ignored my outburst and replied, "Come on, it'll be fine, its an adventure".
How could I refuse?
Some 12 sleepless hours later, we had arrived.
7am or soon after we found ourselves off the bus…to be continued...
7am or soon after we found ourselves off the bus, on the street, in Nathan Road to be precise, 280 RMB each the lighter (the cost of the ticket, Nanning to Hong Kong) and also very hot.
We left Nanning the day previous, cold and coated.
Now I knew it would be a little warmer or so I thought, and I had checked on the internet for the HK weather. I'm not sure whether it was a case of not trusting or just plain stupidity on my part but I had decided to wear my coat.
Much to my annoyance the forecast was right, expected high of 25 degrees and not far off that figure now, at 7 in the morning or so it felt.
So, sweating, crotchety, unshaven and desperate for a shower we set off on the search for the hotel.
Yes, I have spent time in Hong Kong, Yes, I lived here for around 6 months some 5 years ago in the New Territories but that does not make deciding whether to turn left or right at various junctions any easier, especially when heavily laden, tired and also knowing full well that the hotel would be busy and the chances of them allowing us into our room at this god forsaken hour was highly unlikely!
Anyway, after 20 minutes and a few 'sorry, wrong way, we need to go back' and those ever so Chinese wife - 'your not my everything now' looks…we found it.
Can we go to our room now? - No, sorry, 10.30 am at the earliest.
But you can leave your bags here.
Oh well, only 3 hours to wait.
Hong Kong Park is lovely at this time of the morning I told Nana hurriedly AND its only just around the corner AND there's a McDonalds just inside…OK, she said...lovingly.
So that was that - we were here.
10.30 duly arrived and true to their word, they let us in. Good of them really as the official check in time was 2pm.
Nice room, twin bedded (if you want a double bed expect to pay considerably more), overlooking the harbour, well, you can see some of the harbour through the gap between two buildings, what do you expect for 1000HK$ a night, in the centre of Hong Kong.
I like Hong Kong... to be continued...
I like Hong Kong, not because it was once British or because I have lived there previously.
Simply, I like the fact that everything is close to, I mean, everything is easily reached.
Whatever you want, food, entertainment, views, walks, people, solitude...whatever, all easily reached and with little hassle.
The trains arrive on time and every few minutes, the busses and taxis are in copious quantities going this way or that.
All making getting about, I find, a pleasurable experience.
I like the mix of people in Hong Kong, more westerners and the like. I was also pleased to note this stay that the 'pesterers' (persons that approach you trying to sell you something) along Nathan Road (Star Ferry end) had diminished in numbers and were now also far less aggressive in their nature than in the past probably due to a crackdown by the authorities. It was becoming a serious problem at one time.
After a quick wash and brush up in out hotel room I whisked Nana off to buy Octopus cards (prepaid travel cards) a must for anyone planning a stay in HK, easy to use for travel and various other things including MaciD's.
I find the best mode of travel is via the MTR (mostly underground Mass Transit Railway) and much to Nana's amusement we went underground. I thought it best to familiarise Nana straight away with the MTR in case by chance we become parted for any reason. It is the surest way of getting oneself back to familiar territory quickly. All MTR stations have multi entry points, clearly signed and easily recognised.
We made our way to the Star Ferry (Octopus card accepted) a must for a first visit and a lovely way to acquaint Nana with the layout of the main Hong Kong area.
We needed to be at Hong Kong airport early the morning after our arrival to meet my daughter on her way through to NZ via Scotland, Italy, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Hong Kong airport is a joy, certainly in my top 3 in the world. Easy to depart from and arrive to…no complaints.
We had no real plans for my daughters arrival as I was aware that Jet Lag-Time differences would certainly be taking there toll on both my daughter and her fiancé.
We and they were happy to 'wing it' on arrival.
Disney World or Ocean Park? - we chose Ocean Park, it was very good and certainly better now than the last time I was there.
The Peak - A must do, both on a clear day and most certainly at night. We decided to eat 'up top' and a very nice meal was heartily consumed…Two beers (Chinese Tsing Tao Pilsner - 192HK$...yes, that's what I thought...over £12…a little steep but we were at the top)
Various other jaunts including the 'must do' daytime shopping and night markets soon made the 3 days pass.
It was time to say goodbye to HK and my daughter and we left them at the Airport awaiting their flight to Thailand.
Oh dear...Nana and I needed to make our way back to Nanning.
The thought of the dreaded return coach trip filling my with joy…to be continued.
The thought of the dreaded return coach trip filling my with joy and also safe in the knowledge that we did not need to check out till 2pm (normally 12 midday but owing to the fact that on our first night we needed to be moved at 2.30am into another room because of a faulty water tank filling up and making a noise like Niagara Falls, the management had decided to give us this extra time) - Time now was 9am.
We couldn't put it off any longer, the time had come 2pm. We checked out and home we headed.
This time, on discovering a new train line straight to the border crossing at Lo Wu we
MTR'd from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Lo Wu - 25 minutes…easy peasy lemonsqueezey.
Lo Wu is Shenzhen to all intents and purposes as Shenzhen moves ever closer to Hong Kong and visa versa.
30 minutes through immigration (we were lucky both times, going to and coming from, as this can sometimes take hours and hours and hours)
A short walk, maybe 3/4 minutes and low and behold, we were at one of the Shenzhen bus stations more by luck than judgement offering overnight coaches to Nanning, Guilin and other locations (also worth noting, we managed to find very close by another bus station, near the train station, offering overnight coaches to Beihai…next time…maybe)
We bought our tickets, 230RMB this time owing to the fact that now we are travelling from Shenzhen to Nanning, add to this the MTR fare of 33HK$ it means, its cheaper to do it this way, cheaper than our journey into Hong Kong and certainly a lot cheaper than if we had tried to book in Hong Kong to Nanning.
Like all things Chinese nothing is particularly simple and we later found out that had we enquired at another window in the same bus station we had a choice of different arrival points in Nanning, those that know Nanning will know that there are several bus stations.
This did not affect us in any real way as we live approximately the same distance from both options (actually the other option was more expensive by 30RMB) and we were planning to take a taxi home anticipating being back in Nanning sometime between 5am and 6am…or so we thought…
We were planning to take a taxi home anticipating being back in Nanning sometime between 5am and 6am…or so we thought.
Now don't get me wrong, delays and holdups are part of the course here in China but when the coach is meant to leave at 7pm with two further pick up stops in Shenzhen scheduled for 7.20 and 7.30, I was becoming a little irritable to say the least when some 2 hours later we had not left Shenzhen.
Probably owing partly to volume of traffic and delays in people and chattels getting onto the coach.
Why does it take so long for some people to settle in? Why are they always so vociferous? Why would anyone want to video someone getting on the bus and then video them getting into their bunk as was the case at the initial stop where a western man in a wheelchair was duly deposited onto the coach.
So off we set for what I must say was the worst trip so far…another 3 lines of bunks setup, cold, draughty, stop - starting, swerving and those sometimes essential wee piddle stops - in this case they appeared to be extended each time by what seemed like hours and that wretched television that always positioned right in my closed eyes line of sight, flickering and loud.
The usual mobile phones 'going off' followed by that always louder than is necessary…"Weiiii".
A new sound reverberates about the coaches now we have the latest generation of Mobile Phones with built in cameras, web browsing and PDA facilities 'the dreaded key board tones' bleep, bleep, bleep…not to mention the occasional 'flash' as yet 'another' picture is taken for what purpose, I do not know…does anyone actually ever view these photo's?
Eventually we arrived at the Nanning bus station after the final 45 minutes of the journey was spent travelling along what appeared to be an unmade road with potholes and the like at a speed of no more than 10/15 miles per hour, bumping around…oh, what joy.
Here we were in Nanning around 13 hours after leaving Shenzhen bus station, I agree, in one piece but nonetheless more irritable, weary and prone to say, 'never again' than ever before…
AND I forgot to get the BluTac AND the bookstore in Hong Kong didn't have the books I wanted AND I still had the headache that I had before we set off from Nanning 4 days earlier AND…