A really, really large part of me does not want to write this last post about my week-long travel tour. Mostly because after I write it, I probably won’t have too many super interesting travel posts. And also because I’m sick of reliving the awesome week I had and realizing how far away from all of that I am! SADDD
Nonetheless, I’m going to write about it, and I’m combining the last four-ish days of the trip all into one post. Sorry about that, I’ll try to make it move quickly so that I can finally start to blog about other (perhaps more interesting) things.
If you recall the last post, we had just arrived in Shenzhen via train, and were planning to spend the day in Shenzhen with an AIESECer I met at the conference I went to earlier this semester in Nanjing. Hard to believe how long ago that was! Anyways, my friend, named Hugo, was absolutely amazing and such a huge help! He picked us up at the train station, helped us store our luggage, and then took us on a tour around the lovely campus of Shenzhen University (which unfortunately I lost the pictures for 😦 but stole some of Sarah’s for so here are a few below).
Shenzhen University was super super pretty. Lots of wide open spaces, flowers, and even a lake! Hugo took us to lunch and then also took us up to the top of the tallest building on campus, which had a really decent view of Shenzhen, and our next destination–Hong Kong.
It was a quick visit with Hugo, but we appreciated his hospitality and the time he took out of his day to hang with us all the same. We all agreed we were glad we took the time to see a little bit of Shenzhen before immediately going over to Hong Kong (Shenzhen is a pretty cool city too!).
Around 5:00pm, we bid our farewells to Hugo, and made our way over to Hong Kong. This is where things got crazy!
We went back to the train station, where (thankfully, otherwise I really don’t know how we would have figured out where to go) they had tons of signs saying “HONG KONG THIS WAY”. Following the signs like obedient children, we found ourselves climbing up and up stairs. And then down stairs. And then through narrow hallways. And interesting-looking gates. We followed signs that said “foreigners this way” even though we weren’t sure if that was right since we already had visas. And then walked through something that looked like an airport. And FINALLY, after feeling like mice in a maze, we arrived at the actual official counter to enter Hong Kong. It was super strange, because it felt like we had just arrived via airplane and were going through customs, but there was no airplane. Just the customs. We approached the windows, got a stamp saying that we left China, and then walked some more, through some sort of “quarantine area” that was oddly cold but had cameras looking at us (I’m assuming with heat-sensitive cameras??) because apparently they don’t want any sick people going to Hong Kong, and then finally arrived at the next counter. Hong Kong customs! We approached the windows, got stamps and something stapled into our passports, and then we were in! In Hong Kong! YAYYY
So we were super excited. From there, we basically immediately hopped on the subway, which, after three train transfers, got us to our Hotel. Our first glimpses of Hong Kong were amazing. Bright lights, bustling crowds, narrow streets, people (already) trying to get us to buy fake watches, but so much life! After having a bit of a time trying to find our hostel (there was no sign; thankfully we had the address), we went up to our hostel on the 14th floor (in the most ratchet elevator I have ever been in, mind you), checked in, and started to settle in. After cleaning up a bit, we went and grabbed a bite to eat, then came back and promptly went to bed.
I’m not really sure what we would have done during our time in Hong Kong if it hadn’t been for my friend from UIUC who grew up in Hong Kong and was able to give us so many cool/fun recommendations (THANKS FAISAL!). In lieu of a big block of boring text, here’s what we did on Thursday:
- Took a ferry from Hong Kong island to Lamma Island
- Walked around and had delicious seafood for lunch
- Found a couple random beaches that were super calm and peaceful and just CHILLED for a bit, dipping our toes into the water and sand
- Ferry back to Hong Kong island
- Walk through Central (the financial district where all the big tall buildings are) to the entrance of the tram to Victoria’s peak
- Tram to Victoria’s peak at dusk
- Admiring Hong Kong at night
- Eventually adventuring and meandering back to our hostel
- Attempting and failing to go out on Halloween – but fully enjoying the hilariousness and monstrosity of the Halloween crowd in Hong Kong
Overall, it was an adventure-filled day, and I was pretty much sold on Hong Kong by the end of it.
Friday was also a bit of a mis-adventure. We had plans to go to this big Buddha statue on Lantu island, but when we got there, we realized how long the line was and how expensive it was to take the super cool cable car to get there (even though you could also get there via bus). One of our members also felt unwell and ended up staying back at the hostel. NONEtheless, I decided to tough it out and wait in line (for at least 2 hours, it was craaaazyyy!) to get tickets to the cable car. Thankfully I discovered the place I was waiting had free wifi, which made the time go by much faster. But once I got into the cable car, it was completely fine because the views made it totally worth it!
After getting to the top of the mountain, I took my time walking around and headed to the big Buddha.
I took the bus back down the mountain, which was 200% cheaper than the cable car and also presented lots of good views and made me really wish I was just in Hong Kong indefinitely so I could come back to that island and explore even more.
After that I went back to my hostel and relaxed for a bit, as I had plans to meet with my Hong Kong friend’s friends. Even though meeting people you’ve never really met before can be kind of awkward, I definitely recommend it, because they had all the insider knowledge on where to go and what to do, which made the night a total blast.
Unfortunately, this is also the part of the story where I somehow miraculously lost my phone. No idea ho–one second it was there, and one second it was gone–but Hong Kong ate it and kept it for itself. Sadsadsadsadsad 😦
Determined not to get down about my lost phone (it’s just a phone!), we still managed to have a pretty decent day on Saturday. I opted for sleeping in since I had been up late the night before, but the other girls did even more shopping, fully taking advantage of that aspect of Hong Kong.
The afternoon comprised of me and the gang re-tracing my steps from the night before in an effort to try to find my phone (but with much less ability, since I only kinda-sorta knew the area), which actually turned out to be pretty cool because we got to walk through a decent amount of Hong Kong (disclaimer: we did get lost. oops). We ended up finding this awesome taco place to eat, literally the BEST tacos I’ve ever had, and then just went to the Hong Kong harbor and chatted and recounted stories from our trip, enjoying the night skyline. It was a super relaxing and fun way to spend our last evening in Hong Kong, joking around and recalling all the most memorable moments from the trip.
It was sad to leave Hong Kong on Sunday. I didn’t have my phone, even after Hangover-style searching for it the night before. And also because, after being in such a fun place with ALL the Western comforts, who would really want to leave?? Hong Kong was basically an Asian city with American/Western AND Asian products. We literally walked into a convenience store and marveled at what we could get. Pretzels??! Kit kat bars?! Then we wandered into a slightly larger convenience store and literally spent a good half an hour there, marveling at all the things we had been deprived of in China (I’m talking: ALL the Western chips, freaking BAGEL chips [which I don’t even EAT in the US, but hey], Tim Tams [an Australian amazing product that may or may not contain addictive qualities and were sold frequently when I was in Thailand], various mints, chocolate, and other products like female razors and deodorant that just aren’t as up to par in China). We kind of referred to going back to China it as “going back to Soviet Russia”. I meeeaaannn maybe it’s not that extreme, but nobody really wants that. Haha. Nonetheless, even though we were pretty sad to be ending our journey, we were also all super tired and exhausted from our week-long whirlwind adventure and very, very ready to go home.
After signing our names on the Rainbow Lodge’s walls (which was super great! Albeit small, stay there if you want a clean, comfy bed, excellent location, and fun environment!), we headed for the subway and our long trek back to Shenzhen, and then Shenzhen airport, and then SHANGHAI (home).
We basically did the exact same thing as the way there, but backwards. After getting into Shenzhen, we realized that the train station/border crossing was conveniently connected to the line that would take us to the airport. So we hopped on the line and settled in for a very long ride to the airport. Once there, it was awesome because they were able to upgrade our tickets to a much earlier flight (6pm instead of 9pm! YAY), which meant we could also save some money and take the subway from the airport in Shanghai to our home. So that’s what we did.
Despite being on three separate cities’ public transport systems in one day for more time than I have ever desired to be on a subway system in my LIFE, we arrived home in one piece, safe and sound, and with a bucket full of new memories under our belt.
Overall, it was a truly amazing trip and I couldnt’ve asked for anything better. Except to maybe not have lost my phone. BUT I’ve already gotten a replacement thanks to the best ma ever.
But overall, our group was fantastic, our trip was fantastic, and I can honestly say that I’ve made memories that will last a lifetime.