Went for a day of shopping and relaxation in Shenzhen with Judy this fine day. I've already been to China via the Shenzhen/Hong Kong border many times so getting there was a piece of cake. One simply takes the Hong Kong MTR to Hung Hom, hop on the East Rail line to Lo Wu (which is the actual border between Hong Kong and China), and go through immigration. Once you get past immigration, the station becomes Luo Hu, which is the putonghua pronunciation whereas Lo Wu is the Cantonese equivalent. That is when you know you are in China -- you'll also realize this upon being restricted to squatters as your only source of consumption relief. Bahaha. With many months of Asia in our pockets, we knew to bring our own tissue and other toiletry needs that we once took for granted (Hand soap? Check). A great thing about Shenzhen is that the subway system is nearly identical to the Hong Kong MTR. The only difference is the color scheme as Shenzhen's is green and the striking lack of advertisements in Shenzhen when compared to Hong Kong. I suppose it's expected but coming from Hong Kong, the China subway almost looked sterile.
Anyhow, we decided to explore Dongmen Market which we heard was an ideal location for local shopping and cheap finds. This was indeed true but Judy and I found the local market to be a massive sensory overload. Stores upon stores alongside stalls blasting any catchy saying on their speakers. Never have I ever been surrounded by so much neon and nauseating lights. Too much clothes? I thought I'd never say that but yes, we couldn't handle the amount of shoes, socks, dresses, everything, everywhere! We ended up deciding to grab street yums and people watch before heading to our next destination. While wandering about, I stumbled on this gem that I recorded. Real life fruit ninja (sort of) but see the video below and you'll know what I mean. Apologies for the poor quality as it was shot on my outdated Nexus One.
Afterwards, we returned to the Luo Hu Commercial City right at the border and ended up spending the rest of our day there. The summed up in too many shoes purchases, a fascinating drug bust and Judy crying (and occasionally shrieking) during her massage. Good times.
Today is Thursday, May 9th. I've said this many times over the semester but these past 5 months have been nothing less than a whirlwind. I am currently overlooking Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province, China on Day 2 of a trek over mountains, rocky inclined paths, and waterfall streams.This is is Day 7 of 9 in this province. Andrew and I have gone through quite a bit of travel starting with flying into the Kunming Airport from Shenzhen (after taking the 3 hour MTR from Hong Kong).
We started off our trip by staying at this interesting hostel/bar called The Hump Hostel in the city of Kunming.
We then took a bus to Dali which turned out to be a beautiful ancient town with lots of character and cheap and delicious food (6 yuan/meal!). We took a half-baked hike to one of the small hills in the area and passed through the remnants of what appears to be a poorly-cleaned night/day festival. Here are some handy bins part of the amenities provided to us by the bus service.
We encountered the Great Wall of China! (Just keeeeeding)
After a couple days in Dali, we took a 2 hour train to Lijiang, another beautiful but very touristy ancient town.
Now that I'm in Tiger Leaping Gorge with some time to reflect, I can't quite perceive life the same way anymore-more specifically how much I struggle with Chinese and Chinese culture. I tend to claim that I have intermediate fluency in Putonghua but I get so nervous and flustered when speaking at times. It doesn't help that my listening comprehension is particularly weak in Yunnan where there is a strong local accent. My strength lies in the more standard Beijing/Taiwanese accent.
中虎跳 has been so amazing and gorgeous with its ridiculous 28 bends and hours of trekking. Admittedly, at some points during the trek inclines I really just wanted to buy a donkey ride. It didn't help that local men followed us up the mountain path on their donkeys early on constantly shouting over, "美女, 你要騎馬嗎? 美女, 累嗎?" Yes, I was 非常累, but Andrew let me take many breaks along the way and was incredibly encouraging. In retrospect, I wish we stayed 3 days instead of 2 so we could have finished the trek from one end to the other. Breathtaking beauty.
We got lost a couple of times since the arrows on the ground are no longer very obvious. Once, we ended up in the front yard stable of someone's home while it was pouring rain. Andrew finally decided to put on his waterproof clothing so there we were in the middle of a stable with a new horse as our friend and Andrew stripping down to his boxers to change. With our stroke of luck, the woman who lived there walked up the path to her house and saw us while Andrew was mid-change. Thankfully she was a nice old woman who told us that we were on the wrong path and redirected us. "走錯, 走錯" became more common on our trek than we would have liked. However, there was always something to see and it was always so rewarding because of the kind locals we were surrounded by.
Had to re-energize some time through the hike with a quick power nap!
And, of course, it was unbelievably worthwhile.
I just hopped on a two hour train to Guangzhou for a few days and a few days too few. I definitely wish I had more time to delve into the city. I had to skidaddle quickly on back to HKU for Chinese class and to prepare for Taiwan. One of the best things about Hong Kong Uni and just going to school in Asia in general is all the time you get off. A week off for Chinese New Year, RRR week and the well placed Ching Ming Monday and Easter Friday of this week which essentially amount to a week off as well.
Guangzhou highlighted my first time indulging in a serving of food the size of my upper body. I'm from 'Murica, too, and I thought our portions were big. In other food news, I saw snake and alligator served up for the first time but to my regret, I didn't get to try it. There will be a next time, China. Until then...
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