In Transit - Two Sleepers, two metros, one train over two days
Nanning Travel Blog› entry 16 of 20 › view all entries
We made it to China doing the epic journey from Hanoi to Hong Kong by train, not for the faint hearted! We started off in a race against time to catch our train. It took us a while to find a taxi driver who knew where the station is (a contradiction in terms surely!) and when we got in, he rang some woman on his mobile and got me to speak to her. The conversation went a little like this:
Woman: Where you want to go?
Me: er, Gui Lin Station?
Woman: You need Taxi?
Me: er....I'm in one! Does the driver not know where to go?
Woman: When you need to go?
Me: Erm, I don't understand. I think I am in a taxi, that is supposed to be going to the station now.
I passed the phone back to the driver, but he called someone else and got Kat to speak to another woman who again asked loads of questions about why we were going to the station - very bizarre! We got there in the end with only 20 mins to spare, and settled into our luxurious soft sleeper cabin.
We then we proceeded to get woken up at midnight, 1 am and again at 3am for various border checks. As we were at the border check point into China, the man in front of us got his maps confiscated because they showed Taiwan as separate country to China. They didn't search our bags as there was no woman in uniform at the checkpoint. It was then a couple of hours more to Nanning, where we had to wait until midnight to get our train onto Hong Kong. We managed to kill a few hours in Nanning by shopping, but we spent the last couple of hours camping on the floor in the station. The waiting rooms for hard sleeper were so disgusting that we would rather have stayed in the entrance hall. The hard sleeper train to Hong Kong was fine - though there were no doors so it wasn't private at all. When we got to Gunagzhou we had to wait about two hours for our train to Hong Kong, and then we finally arrived!
Our hostel is in Chungking Mansions, apparently "the most famous building in all of Hong Kong". It is a bit of a bizarre one as the ground floor of ChungKing is a huge market hall, filled with fake goods, Indian Restaurants and souvenir stalls. You have to queue for the lift which serves all the different parts of the building - which are filled with other guesthouses, restaurants and god knows what else. It's absolutely huge on the inside and our hostel is okay - but the whole building looks like the last place god created from the outside. Our room is so tiny there is not really enough room for the four of us plus our huge backpacks. Hong Kong is a good break for us as it is really western but so expensive - I have never seen so many Pradas and designer outlets. We were overjoyed to find a H & M where I could buy a new hangbag - didn't really fancy a fake Louis Vuiton one from the market. Apart from shopping we had a walk around the business district, went up the peak tram to see a very misty view, went to the botanical gardens and went to the space musuem - which was awesome but very nerdy. Hong Kong is okay, but the amount of shopping malls is just obscene, I don't really understand how they all make a profit. There are hardly any cheaper shops - although if you look out for brands like Cotton on and Bossini you can get really good deals. You can't even get on the subway without walking through a shopping mall first - which can be very confusing. Everything in Hong Kong is on a huge scale - it's not like London where you can get off the tube and be where you want to be, in Hong Kong you need to then walk another mile or so.
I think Hong Kong is okay if you have money to burn, but on a budget it's quite hard and can be a bit depressing!