It seemed like a good idea – overnight on a sleeper bus to the border and an early arrival in Hong Kong. I’m always hopeful – at least my everlasting optimism hasn’t worn away. Now I know better and can warn all you tall travelers out there to stay away (or bring along a hefty dose of sleeping pills). A sleeper bus in China is, of course, designed to fit the stature of typical Chinese people. Now imagine me compared to your average China man. Even poor Cara, who is a good six inches shorter than me, spent the night with her feet shoved clear to the bottom of the bunk and had no spare room to turn either way…makes for a comfy nights sleep. Forget the fact that we had karaoke blaring overhead followed by two/three middle of the night rendezvous in which the driver snuck on 100 + boxes of dried apricots and stored them right in the sleeping compartment. I only wish I had pictures to justify the evenings adventure but I wasn’t particularly in a cheery, bushy tailed mood.
We finally disembarked in Guanzhou at 7 a.m., stood up and stretched the aches from our backs. The bus driver must have been in a hurry to deliver his apricot delights for he almost threw us off the bus as we hastily lugged our bags off. Thinking we were right across the street from the second bus depot that would take us merrily on our way to Hong Kong, I proceeded to take the map and lead Cara in circles for two hours. Silly Westerners, we had forgotten that we were in China and the buses and train systems never wind up at the proper destination. There are always two or three other bus stations and, as a rule, you will always end up at the one on the opposite side of town. Sorry Cara for my, “I know it’s just right around the corner…” Our confusion could explain the complete looks of insanity that we received upon showing our Mandarin symbols to several locals. They either smiled smugly or ignored us completely. After admitting that we were completely lost again , we finally hailed a cab and drove 20 min. across town to the proper bus terminal.
Border crossings are never fun – Hong Kong not being an exception. For the ordinary viewer, I’m sure the masses at customs resembled a herd of tortured cows shuffling along to slaughter. Too many people, to few customs officials and too many pushy people. Details excluded, it took well over two hours to clear both immigration and customs. Cara and I were completely exhausted by the time we arrived in the Kowloon district at the end of the afternoon. By then, we had been traveling for over 24 hours and just wanted a shower and a bed – – both of which we received.