HK&C: Day 2: Hong Kong to Yongzhou


The Western toilet at Shenzhen Airport
was not for the weak (see sign)

After a rather rough night sleeping, I unsuccessfully tried to sleep in until 930. There was nothing wrong with my hotel room, only that my asthma medicine really messes with my sleep.

My brother advised me of two things via email the night before:


China Rule #1: Don’t drink the water from the tap in the mainland

China Rule #2: don’t call a girl “xiao jie” unless you know her family name

I don’t know about you, but the first was an expected bit of advice that was never in question. The second, well, I couldn’t help but wonder if the consequences were potentially as dire as those associated with the first. The Pimsfleur Mandarin I discs teach that, “xiao jie” literally means, “Miss”, and is how one politely addresses a waitress. As this now seems not so, could saying “xiao jie” lead to vomiting and diarrhea, just like the tap water? I opted not to test this and just ask. It so happens that simply calling a woman, “xiao jie”, is colloquially the equivalent of calling her a whore. Yay Pimsfleur!
Fancy Yum Cha!
On to the day: 
Kimiko and I met for early Dim Sum at 11 and had more wonderful catching up time. The food was excellent, and I especially enjoyed the beef dumplings and pork buns. Time flew, and before I knew it, time had come for a mad dash to catch the airport bus to Shenzhen Airport.

Kimiko spoiled me rotten. She found the Airport Bus, put me on it, and even gave me tissues for the ride, just in case I didn’t know #3!

China Rule #3: Always carry tissues, ladies.

At Kiely’s advice, I took the airport bus which departs from the Airport Express Station at the West Kowloon MRT. The ride takes about 75 minutes (according to the sute), with buses departing every half hour between 0715-1915. There aren’t many flights to Yongzhou, and I didn’t want to risk missing the one I had, especially as my inability to actually read my ticket might slow me down.

The Bus on the Shenzhen side’s view of the terminal.

In Shenzhen, where you clear customs and immigration, only to emerge on the other side to board an identical bus with your fellow passengers, all wearing stickers to assume no one gets lost.

All I can figure is that between filling out the equivalent of a landing card and waiting in the foreigner’s line, I took long enough that I did not catch the first bus out that I could have because I was the first one on the bus, and I didn’t recognize any of the other passengers. As the website said the total ride was 75 minutes and we were still sitting there, I couldn’t help but feel a bit worried.A little Google-mapping managed my concerns, and I found myself checked in at the airport and ready to go with plenty of time to spare. Something I hadn’t counted on was that seemingly, no where accepted credit cards, and I hadn’t bothered to change any money into Yuan.

My tiny bird of pure Hunan chaos.

I had been warned that flights never leave on time, but I had hoped this wasn’t really so. I was to be disappointed. My China Southern 17:30 flight became an 18:45 that didn’t actually board until 19:00. I boarded my tiny plane, took my seat, and so the adventure began…

Just prior to take off, there was a verbal dispute (shouting match) between the guy in the 3rd row and a guy in the 18th row. (I was in 19C) Crisis averted, we had the most abrupt take-off ever, and thenI opted for a bit of a catnap.

I woke to the thud of something warm in my lap. A suspicious package labelled, “beef”. Unable to resist, I had to open it. I’m not sure what to call it, and I think it was probably pork. It was like a sweet white bun for a hamburger with a piece of meat in the top. It wasn’t half bad – of course, I tried it. There’s also a picture on my phone, to be added to this posting later.

Soon, it was time to land, and I swear, the entire aircraft bounced like a tennis ball when we first hit the ground. From that first bounce, anarchy kicked in. People started getting out of their seats, taking bags down, much to the protest of the in-flight crew. When the plane came to a stop, I unfastened my seat belt, and stepped into the aisle, only to find myself being pushed along and out of the plane as I grabbed for my bag, trying not to hit anyone. I was easily the tallest person on the plane, and I am pretty sure the people shoving me were old enough to be my grandparents. Down onto the tarmac I went, to the one tiny baggage claim. The scrum was small, and I emerged victorious, bag in hand.

Yongzhou’s finest pork dumplings!

Yongzhou only gets a few flights each week, and they had already closed the airports main area when I arrived. I was advised by a colleague of Kiely’s that  for many of the people on my flight, this was likely their first time on an airplane.

My brother and I headed to his flat, where I dropped off my stuff, and we went to eat dumplings before heading back to his. He has two exams to give tomorrow, starting at eight, and given my sleeping problems, calling it a night at midnight seemed sensible, especially when so much lies ahead.

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