Saturday, December 8, 2007

Leaving China

My flight to Cairo left from Hong Kong so all of the foreign teachers decided it was a good excuse to take a long weekend there. I was the only one who hadn't been before, but traveling with others was nice. Our overnight train to Guangzhou had no available sleeper cars so we were stuck trying to sleep on hard seats. The train was delayed for about an hour due to a police search of the train, so it took over 9 hours to reach our destination. From Guangzhou, we had to take a train to Shenzhen that took another hour and a half. We had to then do customs for leaving China and for entering Hong Kong…another hour at least. Then, we took a subway into Hong Kong; to the last stop took another hour easily.

When we arrived at the hostel that we had reserved online we were faced with more problems. The three bed room the boys had reserved was a twin and a full bed. The double room we girls had requested was without our own bathroom.  We worked it all out eventually, but what a headache! Especially when the workers don't understand what you are trying to explain to them!  My first thoughts on Hong Kong were how great it was that there were people who weren't just Chinese. Hong Kong is a big mix of multiple cultures and apparently there are a lot of Americans living there – I could easily see why.

We first headed from Koloon Island where we were staying to Hong Kong Island. We walked around a bit and headed to Victoria Peak.  We took a tram up 370 m to the plateau (in about 10 minutes!) and then we went up to the 7th floor of Peak Tower for a view back down to the city. The area is a huge favorite of expats but it apparently ridiculous expensive.  The view was amazing! I have never seen such a skyline! After the sights we went to the Wan Chan district for dinner (Mexican food!!!).  And later we had drinks while watching the local pastime – hookers.

For Day 2 we walked around to see what there was to be seen. Shopping is the main past time for most people who come to Hong Kong. The shopping centers and huge, various, and crowded constantly.  The streets were crowded – there are about 7 million people living in and around Hong Kong and they are all pushed together on the 10% of available land space. Add in all of the crazy tourists, and you get the idea! After shopping around for the day we headed back to Hong Kong island to check out the happening party scene.

Day 3 was made better by a guy I meet the night before – Herman. Everyone else had to leave around 3 to head back to Pingxiang . Herman showed us around a little while we kept all of our stuff at our hotel. After the other guys headed out, I left my stuff at Herman's and he showed me around more of Hong Kong Island. The Central district of the city is much cleaner than Koloon and not quite as packed with tourists. After some delicious sushi and an escort to the airport, I was headed off to Egypt.

The flight from Hong Kong to Doha, where I had my layover, was 10 hours long. I slept the whole time. We got in at 430 am and by 530 I was checked into a hotel. The flight to Cairo didn't leave until 1pm so the airline put us passengers into hotels. We were put into rooms together and amazingly, the girl who I roomed with is from Pingxiang! She hasn't lived there in about 10 years but I had to do a lot to convince her that I really lived and worked there. There were at least 6 other Chinese people that were on our flight and at our hotel, so we decided to walk around together. Nicole and the others really wanted to see a famous TV tour but we couldn't really find it or figure out how to get there. I decided to walk around more and see what I could see instead of staying in the hotel. I didn't see much exciting, but at least I earned the stamp I got in my passport.

Next stop: Cairo. The flight is only 3 hours from Doha and I am getting met at the airport by the conference representatives so it should be smooth sailing for the next 2 weeks.