Over the years I must have seen dozens of t-shirts, greeting cards and motivational office wall hangings that say something to the effect of: “life is a journey, not a destination”. (I always thought that was just something people with no direction in life told themselves to make themselves feel better.) But I think I am beginning to realize the validity of the concept. Amber and I spent 38 hours straight traveling from our house sit gig to Hong Kong. We rode one bus, two trains, and three subway lines and by the time we reached our hostel we were feeling more like Yaaaawwwn Travelers.We said good night and goodbye to our hosts the night before we left and to Moose and Matti as we headed out of the apartment into the dark at 6:00 am to catch a cross town bus to the train station. We always get a feeling of excitement when we set out on the next leg of our journey but there was sadness too that morning as we bid goodbye to Chengdu. At the station we caught a train, outfitted exclusively with sleeper cars, for a 28 hour trip.Each car has 11 open bays, each with 6 bunks in three layers for a total of 66 bunks per car. The walkway had little fold down seats people could use if they did not feel like being on their bunk all day. Most people brought their own food for the trip but a snack cart or a food cart went by about every half an hour. We saw some people sit on their bunks and read, some just slept, others were on their mobile device. But eventually you get to know some of the people around you. We met a very nice gentlemen who was a retired ship captain and had been to the US many times in his travels. We were also fortunate enough to meet an English teacher named Laura who was traveling with her mother in the bay right next to us.We got to chat with her for several hours and we are always happy for any chance to show off pictures of the places Amber and I have been!
This was a much slower train than the fast rail we took from Shanghai. It was slow enough to let us feel like we had an authentic train experience. It was slow enough that we got some good pictures of the countryside. It was slow enough that it got into Guangzhou about an hour and a half late so we missed our connection to our fast rail train to Shenzhen which borders Hong Kong. We learned, however, after a few conversations with various train personnel that we could use our ticket to board the next train – we would just have to stand up the whole way. Well after 30 hours sitting and lying in a slow sleeper, standing in a fast mover for two hours did not seem that bad! We spent a good chunk of that time in the dining car anyway, sipping soy milk.After de-boarding we spent the usual amount of time reading the myriad of posted directional signs, lighted reader boards, and graphics that guide travelers through any large transportation hub. One reoccurring reference stood out. There were lots of signs that simply said “to Hong Kong” with an arrow pointing down a corridor or across an open area. We just kept following them, one after another. They were plentiful, and always right in amongst all the other signs you would expect to see like: “lost luggage” – right arrow “restrooms” – straight ahead arrow “Hong Kong” – go left arrow. (If anyone ever asks you how to get to get to Hong Kong just say: “that’s easy – take a left at the KFC!”)
In reality the Shenzhen railway station is attached to the Hong Kong metro station straddling the border. So we got off the train in China, passed through the immigration check station to get our passports stamped with an exit date and then through the Hong Kong immigration check in and emerged into a metro station. Neat! The next morning we did not waste any time getting out to see our first views of the city! Here are some of our first pictures.The modern ships and city skyline provide a strikingly contrastive backdrop for the fishing boats below.