The Diaolous have been worth the trip, we wished that we had more time to explore in this area. The 8 hours we have spent out looking at things is not enough. We have discovered that the hotel has a bus service that goes to Macau and Hong Kong once a day. We have purchased a trip to Hong Kong for about $130 RMB each. It departs the hotel at 2:00pm.
We are happy to see the bus, not so much for having to leave Kaiping, but because it looks new. We are excited about not having to repeat the experience from our arrival. The bus to Hong Kong from Kaiping is not necessarily a private bus but it doesn’t look like the standard public transportation bus either. We board and depart on time, I am happy to admit that we like the system here and the schedule adherence. The bus makes a stop at another hotel in Kaiping and then several on the way out of Diaolous country. We end up with about 15 people on the bus.
I find the seat to be comfortable. LaDawna assumes her normal travel position and posture – reclined and asleep. I look out the windows as we travel through some forest mountains and catch a glimpse of the trees that remind me that the Great Leap Forward didn’t help this country. We are at just the right angle to place all of the trees in the rows that they were replanted in. We have become used to seeing the deciduous trees in rows along the expressway, but it is not so frequent that we see the forest as a reforestation effort. I occasionally see Diaolous in the distance. None as spectacular as we have visited but the general architecture is still obvious.
The traffic on this tollway is completely different than we see in most of our travels in Shandong. We see truck traffic, lots of semis taking materials in the same direction we are going. I can only assume that it is for the ports near Hong Kong and Shenzhen or for the bustling construction trades that are occurring there. We still don’t see enough truck traffic to remind us that we are in a country with 4x as many people as the USA, but is still many more than we are used to seeing.
I drift off to sleep only to awake to abrupt braking. While I can’t figure out what caused the driver to so abruptly step on the brakes, I note that we are just entering the outskirts of Shenzhen. The buildings look just like those described in the book Factory Girls. We see the small buildings that would be the housing near the manufacturing building. It is interesting to see those buildings and to know what they are.
We will cross the border into Hong Kong at Shenzhen. We have made a complete circle over the last 4 days. We actually cross the border at a different location than we did when we rode the train. We notice just a slight difference in the stamp that we get in our passports. We arrive in Hong Kong as the sun is setting. The sky line and bridges look different today. We find that Victoria Peak looks different as the sun is setting.
We are finally able to get to the end of the bus line. We knew that the bus ride would terminate at Mong Kok. We have ridden the subway from Mong Kok to the hotel in the past so we know we can get back to the hotel from there. This familiarity with Mong Kok probably worked against us and an earlier arrival to our hotel. We see that the first couple of stops also have subway access. When we finally get to Mong Kok, it is dark; the traffic to get there is horrible. We exit the bus and realize that we are nowhere near the subway entrance.
Even though it is late, it is nice to wander through the streets, even though I am still paranoid about losing one of our bags to a grab and dash. The area looks much different in the dark. The signs overhead splash the streets and people below in various colors of neon. The people on the streets are no longer the shoppers we saw here days ago; they are the youth of the city. We wander through the crowds looking for the telltale neon sign that tells us we are near the subway station entrance.
We find the entrance and make our way onto the train. It has been a busy week. We get back to the hotel without incident. We check in and collect our bags from the concierge. We are happy to be back in Hong Kong. We are now facing one final set of challenges, we have some more treasures to put away, dirty clothes to bag, and we have to figure out how to get our bags within the weight limits for travel.
We evaluate the items that we have and look at what we could get through airport screening and what will have to travel in the luggage. We are finally able to get everything loaded and packaged. We will carry the tea sets as they are heavy and compact, the only challenge might be that the carry on will exceed the weight limit, hopefully no one will have us check the weight. We are staged and ready to go for the trip in the morning. We are looking forward to being home again. We are excited about returning as we have been notified that we will have to go to Yantai to finish the paperwork to complete the import process for our household goods shipment. We are hoping that we will soon have “OUR” stuff in our apartment.
We awake and go through the normal morning routine. We call the front desk to get a bellboy to get our bags for us, but no one has shown up when we are ready to leave. We take our stuff to the elevators and make our way to the front desk for checkout. We breeze through the process and are soon in a taxi on the way to the airport. I am looking forward to another trip to Hong Kong but I am also glad to be on my way back home.
We realize as we are going through the TSA equivalent screening that we overlooked the snowglobe that we purchased. It is in our carry-on luggage. It is at least twice the amount of liquid that should have been allowed. The security guys pull it from our bags but they let us take it with us. Thank you for not being able to speak the language as we know the imbeciles in the US would have made us throw it away. We feel fortunate that we got it on the plane without having to figure out how to drain it or get it back into our luggage.
The flight out of Hong Kong is to Shanghai (SHA). The trip is uneventful and pleasant for a plane ride. When we arrive we have to collect our luggage and pass through customs. We realize as we are leaving the screening area we have no idea of where to catch our connection. We wander around the airport and realize finally that we have to leave the terminal and got to another terminal across the airport via bus. We are not happy. A mental reminder to pay the extra money next time for the direct connection, I am again reminded why I chose United over Delta when I was flying every week. The Sky Team leaves something to be desired.
We finally get everything back to the correct terminal and get checked back in for our connection to Qingdao (TAO). We, of course, forgot to put the snow globe into our checked luggage, mostly because the frustration level from having to deal with the terminal change. We again are lucky to get it through the security screening. We board the plane and arrive in Qingdao. As we are coming down the escalator to the baggage claim area we can see our driver, Hyrum, waiting to whisk us home.
We collect our bags, squeeze them into the car and begin the 1.5 hour drive to home. It has been a fun filled, exciting holiday. It has been a little too long for LaDawna but she has survived. I have to.
Work will come early tomorrow and we don’t even unpack when we get home. We throw the luggage in the spare bedroom and we begin the preparation of resuming our lives in Haiyang. We are no longer rookie travelers; we are now comfortable travelling on the outskirts of the Middle Kingdom. We have still got to make excursions into the belly of this beast but I am confident that we can do it successfully.