Its too hard to even think about the Chinese equivalent so i wont even bother. Well we made it to the last (proper) leg of our journey uneventfully, journeying aboard singapore airlines in relative luxury and enjoying semi edible plane food all the way to Hong Kong via Singapore. Hong Kong inspite of our fears fuelled by the guidebook turned out not to be as extortionate as we had expected although dorm beds cost us 9 US$ each which was a little pricey although for 2 of the 3 nights we were alone in the dorm so not so bad.
Hong King itself was incredible, a true metropolis high rises everywhere and light bursting off them all day. Its also extremely pleasant due to the parks and general cleanlines of the whole place, you can always spot an ex- British Colony (i hope thats spelt right as it could be misinterpreted otherwise) a mile off, India excepted that is (and any others that dont fit into that sweeping generalisation). Anyway we spent a good few days waiting for our pricey visas to get processed, and spent them viewing the largest seated buddha in the world which was big not surprisingly although it would be interesting to find out how big the worlds secondest largest buddha is... ok maybe not actually interesting but..hmmm i'll leave it there actually. We also went up the peak on an old tram to view the city by night and unsuprisingly i am now the proud owner of about 100 photos of the hong kong skyline, probably none of which are very good.. ah well.
Notable points involving the big HK would be me having my camera stolen from my bag (interesting choice..it was a crap tripod, but useful), staying in the largest fire hazard ever built; the beautiful Mirador Mansions (or the worlds largest unlit human bbq). Ummm what else Jen bought yet another purse (her 4th or 5th of the trip), apparently the elephant shaped one was now a stupid shaped purse having slipped down opinion polls from 'oh my god the best purse i ever saw'. I feel sorry for everyone of Jennies purses, discarded as the latest infatuation takes over.. lets hope her taste in men is longer lasting! Ahh narcicism stop Mulliner. Ok (and i dont care if it was inappropriate to say narcicism or if it was spelt right.. i cant pronounce it properly so...). Ok (again) so that was HK the beginning of China or so we thought at the time that is untill we really did cross the border to China and the whole world stopped speaking English.
We took a train from Kowloon in HK and headed for Shenzen where we did the now familiar waiting in line for our passports to be stamped by some bored official. On arriving at the otherside we realised our deep we had landed in it. Our first sortie into China involved us trying to book a bus to Guangshou the capital of the state that borders HK, however noone spoke English and i mean no one, through sign language and phrase book we managed to get the general gist across whereupon someone decided that a bus for us was the wrongchoice and instead insisted we take a plane instead.. ummm no bus is good. But to no avail so we ended up taking the train which was a little more expensive but a hell of a lot less hastle. The trains turn out to be extremely nice in China although they are a bit pricier than in the other places we've been, we took a sleeper train last night from Guangshao (if the spelling is different try not worry if it sounds the same it probably is the same!) and it was great bedding provided clean and comfy, well as much as you could hope for on a train anyway. So we arrived in Guangszhao (ok that was deliberate) and decided to attempt buying a ticket to Guilin or next destination there and then. It was an unquallified disaster that typified the rest of the day. The ticket hall was mayhem with hundreds of people milling around, the few signs that had an English translation were all completely useless to anyone trying to do anything train related so it was not surprising that after signlanguage and phrase book trickery managed to pull up a train heading to the place we wanted to go, we fell down when trying to book something better than sleep on the floor with the insects class. On pointing to the sleeper class translation in the phrasebook the lady behind the desk sort of shrugged, laughed and shook her head all at once before moving on to the next in the queue... Balls!
Things did not improve.. it turned out we were not at the trainstation we thought we were at and according to the guidebook booking tickets at this particular station was akin to stealing candy from the proverbial baby, balls a second time. So having essentially been passively insulted by a book and not having a clue where we were, it was unsurprising when we almost went with a tout off to shithole towers for the night, before realising that if we ever wanted to leave this urban nightmare we should get it together now rather than later. So off to MaccyD's (McDonald's for those who just dont know!) for a quick summit meating with the decision being to dump the touts head for the other train station actually on the map we had by taking the subway. Job done.. almost, Lonely Planet in the infuriatingly inconsistent manner for which it is famous describes the other station as 'a seething mass of humanity', in this case they happen to be spot on as on arrival we realised booking tickets was out of the question.. so onwards we headed for the LP recomended youth hostel by the station where allegedly they would do the booking for you.. game on! Only of course the youth hostel was full or something and they no longer booked tickets.. that operation had moved a kilometer south of the station (very handy). Suffice to say sense of humour failures were well in the offing now and the hour was drawing late. We had both been lugging our bags around which didnt help and were on the point of getting back on the next train to HK. But we are British and thus are made of sterner stuff, so twas off to yet another area of town reputed to be the 'backpacker' area where travel agents wanting to book train tickets would grow on the trees and youth hostels would have cheap rooms on offer. To cut along story short (shorter) none of the places did what they said in the LP, the hostel was full and we ended up in a funny little place where you wernt alowed to keep a key. Anyway we did manage to book a ticket at an intown travel agent for minimal hastle and only slight expense so that was good and as a bi product of our stay in Guangzhao we saw a fireworks show for the King of Sweden which was impressive to say the least and also stumbled on the Chinese american baby adoption capital of the world. The area we stayed in is ona small island in the main river of town and was once a western enclave for merchants inland of China, it retains all these colonial buildings and is thus a favourite for marrige photos among the Chinese (they have their photos taken in the dress and suit a few days before they actually get married.. bit wierd but there you go). It is also home to a US consulate which forms the epicentre of a massive adoption ring. The place is awash with American couples with Chinese babys and all the shops sell baby strollers and baby toys and clothes, its a little on the freaky side actually. On saturday when we left town it appeared that the weekly batch had been dished out as childless couples on friday were all eating with babies on saturday evening and i mean they were everywhere.. we were probably the only white couple in the place with out a small chinese baby attached.
Wierd, but there you go. So twas on with the journey and a 17 hr marathon up to Guilin a town renowned for its Limestone rock formations that stick out of the land like nursery rhyme mountains and hills... one can imagine Count Dracula in his castle up on one of the loftier peaks, its dramatic to say the least. We headed a little bit south of Guilin though to the small town of Yangshao, which is right in these funny rock formations and very picturesque although completely overrun with toursits backpackers and espeacially Chinese tourists.. Bit to crowded really but we vill see.
Anyway thats it for me. be good one and all,
big brother is watching