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The South

We took an overnight train from Hangzhou to Shenzhen, arriving on the 30th.

Shenzhen is a unique town. Like Zhangjiagang, it was one of China’s Special Economic Zones, established in 1979. Since then it’s grown by leaps and bounds, becoming the single richest city (in terms of GDP per capita) in China.

As such, it’s a very modern city. Bicycles are a rarity here, and traffic doesn’t have the same crippling traffic jams as other big Chinese cities. The prices are a bit higher than Beijing, but not absurdly so.

Our train arrived at 6:00 AM on the 30th. After finding our hotel and dropping off our things, we headed out to explore Shenzhen.

We headed down the subway to Splendid China, a theme park consisting of most of China’s famous attractions in miniature scale. Attached to the park was the China Folk Culture Village, providing semi-authentic demonstrations of the architecture, clothing, and lifestyles of many of China’s minority cultures.


After spending the afternoon wandering through waist-high Great Walls and Forbidden Cities, we called it a day.

On the 31st, we decided to head to Hong Kong for the day. A trip from Shenzhen to Hong Kong involves walking to the border station, passing through Chinese immigration, walking over a short bridge, passing through Hong Kong immigration, then hopping a train for the 45-minute ride to downtown Hong Kong. It’s far easier than we’d ever guessed.

Once we arrived on Hong Kong Island, our first order of business was to take the tram up to the top of Victoria Peak. From the top, we had a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the harbor. The peak is also mostly surrounded by park space, so we took an hour-long walk through the mountaintop jungle, with much oohing and aahing by all.


Then we headed down into the mid-levels, the area between the shoreline and the peak. The whole city is basically built on the side of a mountain (and a steep mountain at that), so everything is at an angle. Since walking a mile up a 30 degree slope isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, the city installed the world’s longest string of escalators running from the flat part at the bottom to the top of the mid-levels. We ate lunch at a little curry shop, then headed up the escalators to the top. Then we walked down (the stairs, not the escalators) all the way back to the shore. Our knees were not pleased, but it was fascinating to see just how lively Hong Kong’s back streets are.



At the pier, we said goodbye to Kelly and Annette (who wanted to go island hopping) and took the ferry back across the river to Kowloon, the mainland-connected part of Hong Kong.


We walked along the waterfront for about an hour, before catching a train back to Shenzhen.

Simply put, Hong Kong is amazing. Nichole and I both had initially had low expectations; we figured it would be an ultramodern city like Shanghai, but with even more of the annoyances that a big city brings. We were both surprised to find that Hong Kong seems to have done a much better job of integrating modern development with history and traditional culture. The British history probably has something to do with it. Whatever the cause, Hong Kong rapidly became one of our favorite cities. Unfortunately, we could never live there, since even in January I was nearly too warm wearing only a t-shirt. The summer heat would be absolutely unbearable.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. wench | February 12, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    You two look _unspeakably_ cute in that photo. :)

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