Hong Kong, febrero de 2001
Viene a continuación lo que escribí poco después de regresar de China. Se describe mi llegada a Hong Kong y mis primeros días en China. Es parte de un e-mail que envié entonces a mis amigos, en Inglés. Recordad que a la derecha hay un traductor para quienes lo queráis leer en otro idioma.
Para quien lo quiera leer en orden cronológico, arriba en el menú tenéis un enlace.
Hello my friends!
I have expend the past month of February traveling in the South of China. I had quit my previous job at Animate at the end of January and was starting with Gridsystems in March. I needed emotions and something completely new. China was a good challenge and I found a cheap return flight to Hong Kong via Milan with Alitalia. As usual in me I flew to China without much idea about were I was going or things I wanted to visit. I had a guide (Lonely Planet, excellent) that was vital to be able to move in a country you cannot communicate easily with the locals. Good thing the guide had the names of the places written in Chinese scripts as well! I made quite a lot of other preparations: some vaccinations, malaria pils, insurance, small first-aid kit, taking some extra vitamins, etc.
The first four days I was in Hong Kong where I had to apply for my Chinese visa. Even there language was a problem. Only a small part of the people could speak English and not a very good one, most of written signs were bilingual, though. The first two days I was in a guest house in Wanchai (Hong Kong Island) and have fun walking around and going out to some pubs with nice life music. Shopping in Kowloon, near by Temple Rd. was a lot of fun and cloth was nice and cheap.
The third day I moved to the Youth Hostel (YH) in Mt. Davis, 30 min. walking in a hill at the far west of Hong Kong Island where I meet some people. Some people there were quite bizarre, specially two old guys traveling alone. One of them, Argentinian widow psicologist (about 55 years old) had expend 20 days traveling in China and he even had problems in Hong Kong because couldn’t speak a word of English. I think he was very happy when I told him I was Spanish so he could TALK! And you can bet he did! He said that had enjoyed and liked China but in the Youth Hostel was only resting and not moving out of it. He had even visited places like Beging or Xi’an that I was not going to see. The second guy was an Italian professor that was even older and retired. He was traveling in 15 days around the world and he was not shy to meet the YH girls.
People snored a lot it the YH so I could not sleep the two nights I was there. And in the morning the YH staff gave you some tasks to help with the works. I think I had to clean the room.
The Hong Kong city was always crowded and alive. Food was good and I liked to see it from Victoria Peak. You have great views from there: all the towers in one side with the sea and islands, with tropical mountains on the back. Good think I waited for a sunny day to go there.
Anyway, 4 days there were too many for me in a city and China was waiting. It was time to go. The day I had my passport back with the visa I went straight to the Macau Ferry and go there for the day. The city was more European than Hong Kong, smaller and half a day was fine for me. Specially after phoning to reserve a room in a Guest House and not being able to communicate at all with them on the phone. I tried English, Spanish and Portuguese. Only Chinese was understandable for them so I hung it. And if it was Macau, China was going to be fun!!
From Macau I took a local bus to the border with China. There I walked into China and immediately feel in a different place. No more bilingual signs, only Chinese written (or talked). The entrance there is quite spectacular, into a big square with a big Mall. I had my first language problems to find a bus to go to Guangzhou (Canton). I was arriving there late (at about 22:30) so in the bus studied from a map where the YH was. I was lucky because it was very close to a known place: the railway station. It was also good that the 2 bus stations (I didn’t know, neither could ask, in which one I was arriving to) were at the West of the Railway Station. So I just followed my compass and found it.
Usually people leave you alone in China. They know you are there (most of the time the only white man around) and expect an opportunity to meet you but don’t bother much. Not around the big chaotic square in front of the railway station of Guangzhou. There quite some people want to sell you accommodation so I had a guy following and talking to me all the way I was trying to find the YH. It took me about 30 min. to discover that that big hotel in front of the Station WAS the YH. For 50 Yuan was an expensive one in China but I was arriving from Hong Kong so was quite happy about it. The next day I was going go have a look arround and try to buy a ticket to Guillin.