Hong Kong – Shenzhen (June 30th – July 2nd 2015)
(Computer shop. Dragana bored; uses the golden opportunity to write a draft for the blog on this miracle of modern life called “smart phone”, while Kjartan has his IT blast.:)
Yes, it has been a long flight Oslo-Moscow-HK. In Moscow, during transfer, we had an interesting time-experience and would like to share a small tip: DO NOT believe your phone when it is telling you the time between the flights; we were all right and lucky, but one man missed his flight as his phone obviously had not adjusted to the local time fast enough. Just look at the airport clock or something like that. That’s the tip.:-)
Hong Kong. The city of the “wrong” side of the traffic, three official languages, surprisingly good organization, tall buildings and trees and – lots of people! It welcomed us jet-lagged and mouth wide opened, amazed by the green hills that end up in clouds and all that super-tall architecture!
It was Sunday when we arrived-the day when migrant workers gather traditionally in the streets and enjoy the time together promoting their working services and rights. This was kind of the first thing we experienced – ending up in a crowd of bunch of jolly Indonesian ladies on the way to the hostel!
We asked and got a recommendation to try local noodles for lunch in the Jardine`s Bazaar. They were pretty good and we ate with locals, just like we prefer: “When in Rome…” or “入乡随俗”;-) When we asked for paper however, we heard in broken Mandarin “M’you zi!” No paper. Luckily, one kind older lady that works there gave us some from the kitchen cabinet (hope she was not scolded by her strick lady-boss!) and we learned a lesson. We guess that it is due to the virus threats recently, everyone takes responsibility for their own paper. Local supermarket sells tissues as a six pack and it is win-win for everyone as these are pretty cheap. You buy your tissues from them and just head for the restaurants that save their own paper and skip to have responsibility for your health by not transferring virus via restaurant napkins. Fair enough.
We realized that it was an absolute must for a power nap, after we thought/felt that evening was approaching at – 1 pm!
After the sleep everything felt much better and we had some dim-sum and watched the popular Symphony of the Light from the Victoria harbour. The show is a nice experience but one thing even nicer was the meeting of Jupiter and Venus in the sky that night! We were informed about this happening before and knew what was going on when we saw two particularly bright dots above the lights and skyscrapers.
After visiting The Boulevard of Stars (Asian Hollywood), we headed back to Causeway Bay and the Jardine`s Bazaar (area close to the hostel), where we enjoyed an excellent shaomai in a small “hole in the wall”. We talked in Mandarin/broken Cantonese with the grandpas (“yeye”) working there to make them a bit more relaxed with these strange foreigners entering their cosy restaurant. And it WAS cosy: people were dropping by for take off and students and workers were enjoying their food after the hard working day.
The second day in Hong Kong started early, when we got our croissants from the local supermarket (“Wellcome” with two l’s:) and headed for the picturesque Hong Kong park. The place is famous for the newly weds, that is they can register their marrige on the top of the park hill. We got our tickets for the Victoria Peak tramway and started the adventure: climbing up the hill (太平山) and leaving the skyscraper tops below our feet, enjoying the view of all the green around us and -click click click- using our cameras, of course! We had our croissants and coffee (breakfast) once we arrived at the top and started the walk tour around the peak. Now, that was funny. There were almost no people when we started – at the end of the track! Turn the right, folks!:) It is really amazing how our organism is used to start from the left. Even the dogs, coming our direction with their jogging owners, were looking at us like there was something wrong since we walked on the left side of the road haha!
The forest is really something- it is hard to forget the smells and the sounds of cicada singing/fighting and the air really cleaned our lungs! And the trees – no, someone really needs to invent some technology for all the five senses! A big recommendation to experience the forest!!
Afterwards, we went to the hostel to fetch our suncream and then took the ferry to Lantau Island. Kjartan has been here before so he showed me the biggest Buddah statue in the world! Then we took the bus no. 2 to the Tai O fishing village where we had an excellent lunch at a seafood restaurant! We saw some “laowai” (non-Chinese) here as it is possible to get a B&B room on this genuine village! The restaurant we ate at had bunch of notes on the wall, written in many languages by satisfied customers that tried seafood grill prepared in the shells, covered with cheese, bacon, chilly papper and other yummy stuff! Really cool and excellent meal with had and left a Norwegian-Serbian-English-Chinese happy note on the wall!:)
Tai O. Little pearl among the hills. The evening was approaching as we walked down the narrow roads between the many huts, as the locals enjoyed with their families sitting in the street, watching series from outside as the door was open and it was so hot to sit inside, and slowly preparing for dinner. We got some local street snacks (Tai O sesame cookie) and these were really good!
By now we should mention that the draft is being written at Shenzhen North Station as we are waiting our high speed train (gao tie, 207 km/h!) to Fujian province!
We arrived here two days ago (June 30th) by crossing the border between HK and mainland China on foot! That was really cool experience:-) We even wanted to test e-check but it only work for locals. Thus we had to stand in the standard long queue with others and – even fill out arrival and departure card! Shocking haha, what were we thinking, getting into the country just like that!
Shenzhen is a city that develops 24/7. One can literally see the welding process with sparks falling in the middle of the night as the skyscrapers are growing! Really! Imagine that happening in Norway! The distances are large, as one can imagine in a city of a population of two Norways. So it is good to use metro when commuting, just like we did both in HK (“Octopus card”) and Shenzhen (colour metro card). The trains in both cities are very well organized, broad and with a good air-conditioning. The people however act differently in Shenzhen that in HK; they push in as soon as the train arrives, so be ready to push out!
Getting to the SZ hostel was a real adventure! We arrived close to the destination around 4pm, rang them few times, made people around ring them few times, went left, right, right again, back to where we started, then right, right again, back again and straight forward, then we found the Rainbow bridge, we crossed the bridge, went left, some guard talked with the hostel on the phone, then went straight, then the guard called us back apologizing for sending us off in the wrong direction, then we went back to the Rainbow bridge and finally found Block A! All of that to discover that the 14 floor does not exist, so we took the elevator to the floor 15A (the between 13 and 15) with 20kg luggage on our back.
The hostel “Wanderer” truly lives up to its name- we wandered and wondered in 35 degrees (common temperature in HK and SZ this time of the year). The people working there did not know what “hostel bookers” (the site we had booked the room from) was, but we managed to get private dormitory accomodation with shared bathroom. The place was an improvisation of a hostel business- we definitely do not recommend this place, unless you speak the language or do not mind hostel workers being too casual with their guests (there was no key to the rooms, so I saw a hostel worker opening the door without knocking when one foreigner was in his underwear). Ask for the key otherwise.
The second day in Shenzhen went fast as we met our friends living in the city and spent hours commuting by the metro. We saw the Sea World, close to the harbour Shekougang (蛇口港), where they have colourful water shows in the evenings. Many bar and foreign restaurants are in this area as well. The place is located by the end of the orange metro line. Be aware that it might take a few hours from one side of the city to the other-by the metro which is quite new (a few years old!) and – extremely developed! We would like to thank our friend Cyprian for showing us around. 谢谢, Cy!:)
This blog entry is being published on the train Shenzhen-Xiamen. The plan is immediately to take a bus to Putian, a Fujian town where Dragana lived 10 years ago! Staying there for the next three days. Stay tuned.:) k&d