Friday, November 17
|Today was our final travel day before the long, long flight home next week.
I had read a lot about taking the high-speed electric train from Guangzhou
to Hong Kong. I bought tickets for the four of us, so-called “premium” seats
(just means you actually get a seat, rather than fighting over one), and the
total cost for the family was about $100CDN. It was funny; the ticket agent
couldn’t understand why I wanted to buy tickets for the girls. You see,
children under the age of 5 can travel for free, as long as they sit on the
parents’ laps. As you can well imagine at this point in our trip, the
thought of struggling with Emily and Stephanie on our laps for the trip was
beyond comprehension!! It was especially ridiculous when you realize the
kids’ tickets were about $15CDN each!! Can you imagine having kids on your
lap versus paying $15? I contemplated the choice for about a nanosecond and
then bought the tickets! The guy kept asking if I was sure I wanted to spend
the extra money!
We reluctantly checked out of the Marriott China Hotel. Our apartment was about 1500sq feet and very luxurious. The Marriott even provided a chariot to get to the train station (clever, eh?). The train station is new, or so we were told. It looked new from the outside but inside looked old and outdated. Most of the signage was printed on cardboard, and the walkways and public areas were in very bad shape. Emily and I made the mistake of using the washroom before we boarded the train. I won’t provide details, since with the time difference some of you could be eating while reading this. Suffice it to say, we would have been better finding a ditch somewhere!
The train was full, and we were very glad we’d booked seats for the kids as we watched a woman struggle with a child about Emily’s age, sitting on her lap (or rather running around the train, terrorizing other passengers and screaming his head off). The guy who booked the tickets assigned us a foursome of seats so that we faced each other with a table in between. It was great. We had bought some cakes for the kids and they happily sat and ate them while we rode the train.
We made a bit of a tourist attraction ourselves as both our girls had their mobile DVR’s to watch movies, so everyone who passed by had a look at what they were doing. Emily watched Little Mermaid while Dora kept Stephanie engaged.
The ride was scenic and fast. The photos don’t really do justice to the countryside you get to enjoy on the trip. The border itself is really not a big deal, and other than the two flags and some barbed wire, you’d likely miss it on the train trip.
One interesting thing to see was the huge fresh water pipe that takes fresh water from China into Hong Kong. Hong Kong actually purchases most of its fresh water supply from mainland China. The pipe is several meters in diameter and painted white so you can’t miss it.
The whole trip was only 1.5 hours. The really nice feature is that you clear Chinese immigration before you board the train, then when you get off the train in Hong Kong, you just clear their customs and immigration. Not like our bus trip that involved getting off the bus in Hong Kong, clearing immigration, getting back on the bus, riding for one minute, getting back off the bus with all our luggage, clearing Chinese customs and immigration, then loading back onto the bus with all our luggage. The train is definitely the way to travel.
By the time we got to the hotel again it was nearly 5pm. We chose a restaurant nearby for dinner and had a mediocre but passable meal. The kids and Danny and I were tired, so we called it a night very early.