Wednesday, August 7, 2002, CST
Day 14, Goodbye to China, Rail trip to
We awoke to dry weather, and relatively mild temperatures. Breakfast was dim sum, and we loaded into 3 vans, for the journey. We drove across town, to Min Chu Ju, (Singing Spring Resort), which was a city government reception resort, normally reserved for receiving VIPs and government guests.† We never found out how we were able to partake in this exclusive facility, but we had a suspicion that it had something to do with the additional hosts we had this morning.† After a delicious meal, we headed back to the hotel to check out, and head to the train station. It was a melancholy feeling, as we knew each view we had of Guangzhou would be our last of this trip.
We arrived at the Guangzhou East train station an hour early, which left time to go shopping before the train arrived.† After leaving our luggage Edy took us across the parking lot to the Parkson department store. This was a modern multi-story department store similar to the one in Xian, although more like Macyís than Sears. We were thrilled to find a T-Shirt that we had been searching for since Beijing, and had given up on finding.† Michael and Stephanie bought new backpacks, and then it was time to head back to the train station.
After a very sad goodbye, we waved to our new friends and headed to immigration one more time. Not before we snuck one last picture, however, before security came and made me stop. Doug came with us, just to make sure we arrived OK, and help us in Hong Kong. We couldnít believe that he made this commute just to make sure that we were taken care of. I am sure it was very late when he arrived back home. So many of our friends made such efforts to be with us. Edy and Alex sent their 5 year old to the grandparents and didnít see them for 3 days, while they were helping us. We didnít even find out Doug and Joanna were married until late on the last day.
Our train was T803 which was a Xinshisu high speed train of the KCR line. My GPS did not work on the train, for some reason, but this Swedish built train is a new tilt train, which leans as it goes around curves, and is supposed to hit 200Kph, (125Mph) on this route. New since 1998, it allowed us to reach Hong Kong in 93 minutes. Unlike US trains, this one was on time within 2 minutes.
As we take each step closer to home, things become more familiar, and more like home again. Our hotel was like a familiar oasis, and Hong Kong felt so western, after being away for so long. All of the sudden there was more English, familiar products, and food. Even the doorman remembered Michael and his long queue, upstaging Karmaís purple hair. After checking in, we went out for sushi, as we attempted to choose the food most different from the 2 weeks of Chinese food, we have been eating. The backup plan was Italian, but we found our first choice. Not before running into Doug, on the streets of Hong Kong, however. Pretty incredible to be walking down these crowded streets and see a familiar face. Not only had Doug made this commute, but now he had missed his express train, and had to take the slow one back home. We found our restaurant, and saw the same type of turtles we were eating yesterday, being kept as pets.† We scarfed down a pretty big meal, and then went shopping.
I forgot to mention, that on the way to the restaurant, we ran into a shop selling the same T-shirts that we had hunted all over China looking for. Not only that, but everything was on sale, and cheaper than what we paid a few hours ago, so we bought more.† We thought the shopping center in Xian was 21st century, but this one we found tonight was absolutely futuristic.† I found a map that I had been searching for, since day one of our vacation.† Now that I have a detailed map of the Pearl River Delta, I can clearly locate the Hall and Zhou villages and outlying areas that we have been visiting in Guangzhou. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the street markets, for some bargaining, and retired with significantly less money then we started with, but happy, and proud of our bargains.
One more day of shopping, and then we head home.