Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hong Kong and China Travel Log

[Day 1] 11th September 2007

Touchdown Hong Kong at 1:30pm, weather is as hot as Singapore.
Bought Airport shuttle coach tickets (HKD 130) to my Hotel – Guangdong Hong Kong Hotel (香港粤海酒店). Coach interior is very posh: 5-star rating-feel with carpeted floor and dimmed lightings; each row consist of only 3 thick-cushioned leather seat illuminated with white LED bulbs. Its even better than my airplane seat!

Reach Guangdong Hong Kong Hotel at 2:45pm, it is located at along Prat Avenue, Tsimshatsui area. The street is bustling with life – 2-way road with very narrow pedestrian walkway, but lined with lots of shops and huge signboards handing overhead – atypical of any Hong Kong street you see in those Hong Kong drama series. I got happy just seeing how many things and shops I will get to see when I return back that night!

Checked into Room 705. Dump my luggage and immediately head out for lunch! I am FAMISHED!!! Haven eaten lunch!!! Hopped over to the 茶餐室 directly opposite my hotel entrance. 1 stone-throw away; I mean it, it’s just like (1-metre pedestrian walkway + a 2 way road + another 1-metre pedestrian walkway) 10 - 12 meters across the road. Had a bowl of Beef Hor Fun and a cup of Ice Lemon Tea (HKD 22). Nice. Authentic Hong Kong meal.

Next, set off with my laptop for the Hong Kong Office located at China Hong Kong City (中港城). Had a couple of self-introductions with my Hong Kong colleagues, all of which I have exchanged emails and worked with for the past years, but only meeting for the first time. Apart from the general manager and another marketing manager, the entire office floor is filled with female colleagues, all 14 of them. <(^_^ )

Settling down, tried in vain to reach my boss, and my bloody M1 phone seems not able to make outgoing calls no matter what, and the last I info I heard from my boss is that even my boss’ phone can’t receive incoming calls. Oh well. . .

So, after a couple of failed contacts, my logistic manager made a decision: “Kenneth, you have to make it to Panyu by tonight, by hook or by crook”.

EH~??? What about my accommodation? It’s not booked for me for this extra night, and I only have like RMB 500 with me, with the initial plan to only stay over there for 1 night. Now I am heading there 1 night earlier – alone, not much money, and outgoing calls unavailable.

With no time to waste, I taxi back to hotel (HKD 20 +/-), split my luggage, packed 2 nights worth of clothing, and then reached back to Office again by 5:45pm.

Tenet was nice enough to escort me to the Ferry ticketing office to buy ticket (HKD160), assured me that a driver is dispatched out at Panyu for me, and my hotel room is booked. She then guides me to the Ferry customs. The entire China Hong Kong city is so huge, I would have really needed her to guide me to the place before I got lost; its like Vivo City + Harbour Front + Suntec City + Marina Mandarin Hotel, all in one. Okay, maybe I was exaggerating, but it’s a huge place alright.

And so, I was bound for the last ferry of the day to Panyu: 6:10pm to Lian Hua Shan port (莲花山港) and a 2 hour ferry to a place I have never been before, never HEARD before (What 莲花山??? Sounds like 花果山 or some Ulu-Sang-Kat mountainous region… Geez). And to be picked up by someone I have never seen before too. Great, how exciting.

Being first time at the Ferry terminal, I thank myself for being a Chinese, as most directions are written in Chinese. Proceeded to Berth 4 – no ship. … … … okay, now what? It left? I stood at the Berth entrance for a good whole 5 mins, not a single soul, nor a single ship. Okay, time to head back upstairs… hopped back into the lift and realized the way back is disabled; can only come down, not go back up. Great. Ah! Managed to get hold of an authorized personnel who showed me how to get back upstairs. It was only then they announced the ferry is delayed by 20 mins. (=_=) idle around.

6:30pm and the ferry arrives. Penguin Fast craft type, feels like heading back to Pulau Tekong like that. Hahaha. What is impressive is that the ferry moved off by 6:40. 10 mins from arrival and it’s off again. No waiting, so wasting of time. I like~~~

Next is a boring 2 hour ride. Yawn… tired and felt like sleeping, but unlike of me especially when I am alone and outside. I dun wanna wake up to discover that I am been robbed. Stay awake stay awake. . .

8:30pm and I disembarked. Lian Hua Shan Port, Panyu, Guangzhou, China. Simple terminal. Spotted a skinny and decent looking fellow holding a card with my company name and my name. There he is… my driver. I hopped into a huge Toyota MPV – never seen this model before, but its comfortable nonetheless.

Panyu’s road is horrific! No street lights, and only a white line in the middle marking the to-and-fro directions. No individual lane markings, so cars dun really drive in an orderly fashion. There appears to be NO GOVERNMENT on the road! I sat in the front seat, chatting up the driver, but I focus most of my attention on the road. I can honestly tell you, I will pay to let SOMEONE ELSE drive the car, even if it’s a Porsche. Half the time, my driver is honking at other road users, and switching between high and low beams. The road is wide and dark, and people are crossing the roads at either side randomly. With no street lights and the glaring high-beamed headlights from opposite-directional cars, it is almost difficult to see them properly.

Motorcyclist and cyclists hogged the right lanes (its Left-hand drive road), but some venture to the centre for several reasons; to cut across the road at major junctions, to overtake even slower motorists, or simply steered off-lane since there is no individual lane markings. These motorist and cyclist are equally difficult to spot as the pedestrians. Their rides have none or very weak lights, and they dun wear helmets at all. Even pedestrians can be found standing in the middle of the road, waiting for their chance to cross the road.

Zebra crossing is NOT COUNTED in this area. Pedestrians cross at their own guts; drivers have to judge pedestrians’ body language to determine if they intend to dash out or not to, and get ready their foot-brakes, or honk to indicate “I dun intend to stop for you”. Amazing. This car ride is even more exciting than a roller coastal ride.

I reach Long Quan Hotel (龙泉酒店) shortly after a 15 mins drive. Dark road, a couple of chit chats and I arrived at the busiest street at Panyu – BIG-NORTH road (大北路). Nice~

Thanked and waved goodbye to my driver and I entered the reception area and walked to the concierge. Checked my reservations and was relieved to hear that a room has been booked for me. Then comes the scary part: “压金是人民币一千元” (deposit is RMB 1000). No way! I only brought like RMB 500! But… never fear, “Because for everything else, there is MASTERCARD. Ka-ching! And I happily checked into room 714. xD

Standard practice prior to opening the door to your new hotel room – Knock first. Open the door and say firmly: “This is where I will be staying for the next few nights”. Then tip the bell-boy. Haha. Keep the door open and switch on ALL the lights, all the way to the toilet – the most “yin” place in a room. Stand to the side of the aisle, pause, and slowly close the door. And the room is yours.

Simple room, Queen Size bed (all to myself, wahahaha). First thing to do is to check through all drawers, bed-side table, underneath the bed, toilet and fridge inventory. What should be there, should be there, and what shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be. Then open the curtains and check what is outside – Carpark view for me (=_=)q.

9:15pm Spent alike 15 minutes figuring out the bloody TCP/IP address thingy so I can connect to the internet and establish connection. Next hour was spent go through my emails. So many!!!

10:15pm and I am out on the streets of 大北路. I need FOOD. Hungry! 7-Eleven is right beside the hotel entrance – Good. Gonna buy mineral water on my way back. Then there’s the golden arches, recognized everywhere. Nope, not gonna eat Mac, check out the streets first! I want authentic Guangzhou roadside food!

There are many people on the streets, just that some areas are not so brightly lighted. Half the shops are closed. The pharmacy is still opened, and there are a couple of shops selling ladies shoes (going for like RMB 10 a pair; that’s like SGD 2! Cheap and nice~~~). Then there is another shop selling clothes. Its like 换季大热卖 Season-change Sale and things are going for RMB 50 (around SGD 10). Suddenly, I feel rich. But I am still hungry! No food yet. Past a road-side store selling skewer-meat dipped in some weird sauce. (=___=) doesn’t look appetizing at all. Across the road, there’s Mac again, even bigger this time.

Across the road, its Neon lights and gigantic posters everywhere. Lotsa advertisements. McDonalds is very prominent, and there’s a couple of “足桑” Foot Massage Parlors. Large Operations type. Woah… But I dun dare to cross the road. The road is scary.

I walked all the way to the adjacent avenue, and stopped short of crossing. No food in sight. All closed. So U-turned for the McDonalds nearest my hotel.

There is this thing one should know about Panyu’s street. There are many motorcyclists loitering around the roadside. I mean many. And they are together. Never establish eye contact or they will approach you… to offer their service! Yep, they are illegal taxi offering short-distance pickup. All you have to do is just hop on and off they go, no helmets needed and you can seat sideways if you want to.

Reached back McDonalds, only to realized it’s an outlet selling only drinks and ice cream. Great. I am hungry, to the point of pain. Walked out of McDonalds and saw on my left “河昌西餐厅” (western food)! I strolled in without a moment’s thought, but was puzzle as to why there is a security guard outside.

Inside was what looked like a hotel lobby lounge, filled with Chinese guys young and old, smoking away and with one of their legs perched on the chair. Everyone of them. Argh, eye-sore. Is this the standard here? Sat down at a thick cushion and glanced through the menu, all Tim-Sum. I beckoned the lady-captain over and asked for a plate of beef-fried noodles. Tea was served – not a cup, but a huge pot of hot tea.

As I sipped my tea waiting impatiently for my noodles, some movements upstairs caught my attention. Above the high ceiling of the hotel lobby, I can see through the glass of the 2nd storey. One whole line of young girls in black gowns, high slits, and high heels parade past my eyes, entering a room. Oh… it’s a “高级夜总会” upstairs. Interesting. Seems like I chose quite a seat with good views of a Night Club – without me having to go into one myself. Haha.

My noodle came shortly I gobbled it up in a couple of minutes. Anyone could have easily seen through that I am very hungry. But the noodle is like soaked in a thick layer of oil at the bottom. Yuck. Done eating and continue sipping tea. Cannot waste the pot of tea. Asked for Tissue from the captain and was given the hotel’s packet of tissue. Very nice design and packaging. The entire hotel service is printed on the tissue package. 2nd to 5th floor are all Night Club operation. 6th to 9th floor is the Men’s high class water SPA. Beyond that is all the hotel rooms. Ooo… wrong place to be in for a dinner.

Total bill: RMB 8 for noodles and RMB 2 for the pot of tea. That’s like SGD 2 only! So affordable!

Hop over to 7-Eleven and bought me 2 bottles of mineral water before heading back to my hotel. My manager and group has arrived and checked-in as well. Met them up, discussed tomorrow’s itinerary and I retired back to my room.

After a long day, I finally get my shower and a good night rest. 1:30am. Night is still young, and the streets are still alive…

No comments: