Day 2. HK to Shenzhen. Sunday 21st Oct.
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Woke at at 6.30am HK time and went for a 30min run around Kowloon. I LOVE running around cities that I visit. It's the best way to start the day in a new place I think.
Before Breakfast I booked my next three night's accommodation in Shenzhen. The Metropark Hotel. Good price & location and something I almost forgot about – if I was to be picked-up & dropped-off by solar companies that I wanted to make a good impression to, I had better be staying at a reasonable hotel.
Had breakfast at my hotel then spent the morning exploring Kowloon's Sunday markets and department stores. It was interesting - Hong Kong really is a melting pot of people. I saw people from more places than I've ever seen before in one place. And again - no hassles from anyone. But I did feel mildly alone, being alone and all.
After a little while I was nervous about getting to Shenzhen via the train network with a Passport/Visa border to cross into the Chinese mainland so checked out at 11:30am to get going. It was very painless and fast. The taxi to the train station took 10 minutes; the train trip was 40; the border crossing was 40; and the taxi to my Shenzhen hotel was 15. Less than 2 hours in total and that was with some communication problems. There was less English used than I was expecting, and I certainly can't speak Mandarin or Cantonese. But that was okay, language barriers are mostly good fun.
The Shenzhen hotel was excellent. Much bigger/better rooms than Kowloon for 2/3rds the price. Shenzhen itself is remarkable in many ways. I spent the day exploring the old and new areas of the main city shopping area, which my hotel was right in the middle of. Most of my time was spent looking for (requested) gifts for Nicole and my two boys. I got most of them - you can buy ANYTHING in Shenzhen it seems.
Actually my first stop before hitting the big shopping area was to go into a much smaller "old" area. It felt very French like some areas of Saigon. I had my first real Chinese meal in a tiny hole-in-the-wall local noodle house, and was very strange. There was a big wall of types of food to get and put in your bowl and the owners then cooked it with the communal "broth" from a massive pot in the front of the shop. Hand-picked seasonings were then added. Lesson #1. DON'T add extra chili for food from Shenzhen! It was so hot I could hardly eat it! Some local teenagers came in and I started talking to some of the boys who were pretty cool. One had a t-shirt which read "I live for music", while another's said "One your way to heaven, go to hell". They were very – normal. Much more "Western" than I expected if that makes sense.
In the evening I went into the HUGE new shiny shopping area. Think Orchard Road in Singapore mixed with District 1 of Saigon and you'll get the idea. But the really cool thing was a big public square in the middle of it that old and young people just hung out chatting. It felt very safe and chilled out despite the mad rush of shopping.
My HK simcard wouldn't work, so had to buy a mainland card. Both cost AUD$7 each. Meh.
I had dinner in a good restaurant for less than AUD$5 beside a free-entry kids amusement park. There were not many customers in the restaurant so the staff were very chatty. I was learning quickly that traveling alone draws conversation with locals MUCH easier. Oh and get this - I tried to give them a tip at the end but they would NOT take it. Utterly refused and looked a little offended. They seemed to have no concept of tipping. Wow.
While there SMS'ed Monday's companies to meet, and organized times/venues. Everything was lined up.
Got to bed at 10.30pm Shenzhen time. Exhausted but happy to be settled in and ready to meet companies!
Day 3. Shenzhen. Monday 22nd Oct. >>