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First steps on our own...

Guilin to Hong Kong

Armed with our new 90p watches (Dan went for the jazzy one!) we jumped in a taxi with our bags and made our way to Guilin station. We were 2 hours early and so were slightly unsure if we could wait inside yet or wait outside the station. After a few mins we were ushered through by the helpful ticket lady and got our bags through the scanners before the next challenge....which waiting room? As we were early our train was not on the boards yet but one of the train staff on seeing our confused faces directed us up the escalator to waiting room no. 2. It was quite empty but we put this down to being early and settled into our seats to wait.

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Half an hour later our train still was not on the board in our waiting room and so I went to take a look around just in case and would you believe it our train goes from the other waiting room!! Thank goodness we checked early enough! So loaded with bags we trudged over and found the right row to wait in for our train. We still managed to get prime seats towards the front of the row so we would hopefully get through before the mad crush of the crowds as we knew the train was full as there were only 3 tickets left when we got ours!

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We were some of the first people in our carriage, found our bunks and got good places for our bags so we felt like pros at this train game! As we settled down for the night it became clear that the guy below Dan had hit the rice wine before getting the train, making it hard for Dan to sleep as his alcohol breath kept hitting Dan in waves as it rose up to the top bunks. I didn't have the best sleep either as my stomach had other ideas. So even though we successfully arrived in Shenzhen we were pretty tired to say the least!

Shenzhen is the town at the border with Hong Kong. We had read online that it was an easy border crossing, "just get off the train, follow the crowds and the signs to Hong Kong" so we were relieved when this is exactly what happened.

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It took longer to get through immigration than we had expected as we had not factored in that it was the weekend, otherwise normally during the week as a foreign visitor we had been told that it takes a matter of minutes to get through. On the other side we just had to navigate getting to Hung Hom station in Kowloon and then we would nearly be at our final destination. As we have 5 days here we opted to get an Octopus card which is a bit like an Oyster card which you can use on the train, metro, ferry and trams etc... You can also use it in some shops too I think. We managed to get a seat on the train and Dan delighted one of the kids by bringing out one of the Panda paws we had from my birthday and growling like a bear, the kid then growled at his grandma for the rest of the journey lol!

Getting the taxi was simple too, I think it helped that we are now somewhere that has a lot more English signs and English announcements compared to mainland China! Before we knew it we were outside Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road where Apple hostel is located on the 10th floor. This is a really busy street with people everywhere trying to sell you things, shops and lights. We had heard mixed reviews as it was one of the cheapest but with a bit of a dodgy side too and you need to watch out for unlicensed hostels. If any of you have read the latest Jo Nesbo book The Leopard (if not I recommend you do), this is the place mentioned at the beginning essentially Chungking Mansions is portrayed as a rabbit warren with gangs and opium! As I had read this only a couple of weeks before I was a bit concerned and we prepared ourselves for the worst. We had read reviews of people being hassled and being directed to the wrong place but we had a map and directions from the hostel which were great and other than a couple of people asking us if we wanted to buy watches we were not troubled at all which was a pleasant surprise. We are about to spend our first night here and so far it's been fine but then again I have only seen our floor and the ground floor so who knows what goes on elsewhere! Even our room is a little bit bigger than we thought it would be...including shower and toilet!

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It was time to explore some of the city and I had been craving a chicken tikka masala and we had heard that there were some good Indian restaurants here. Being in Hong Kong was such a change from Guilin with high rise buildings everywhere, so many lights that you could wear sunglasses at night and loads of people! Another huge difference in Hong Kong compared to China is that we have not seen one bike or moped yet, and all the cars stop at pedestrian crossings! We are so used to just stepping out amongst the traffic now but have noticed we are the only ones doing this here.

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We needed to walk off dinner and so made our way to Tsim Sha Tsui promenade for a stroll to take in the great views of Hong Kong island across the water. We had not noticed the time and it was just by chance that as we got there just as the famous light show 'Symphony of Lights' was about to begin. It was a fantastic skyline even before the lasers and changing colours on the buildings began and it was a great way to spend our first evening in Hong Kong!

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 07:56 Archived in Hong Kong

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Wow! Looks like you guys are having a great time. Can't wait to see more pictures. Keep in touch. Miss you!

by Jacqui Blazier

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