Day 52: From Hong Kong to Guilin

I walked quarter of a mile to find an open Metro entry point, as the two closest to my hostel remained closed after Sunday’s vandalism.

I hadn’t see that any attempt had been made to remove the cans and material that had been stuffed into the shutters.

I can only presume that it has been left there as some kind of statement, by the authorities, to reduce support for the protests.

Up the road, the mosque had been sprayed in blue dye by the police. Clips of this are available on Twitter. I had seen the water hosed from where I was standing on Nathan Road.

The site had been washed and cleared by local people.

Once I walked into the tunnels connecting the stations, it was eerily quiet. Nobody talked.

Everywhere I have been, I am used to a hubbub, if not an actual din when using cities’ Metro systems.

The only sound was the repeated announcements of the continuing shut down of the Metro after 10pm. Airport services will continue to run.

Over the previous days I had noticed a lot of attractions posting signs that they would close at 9pm because of “the continuing public events”.

I reached Kowloon West Railway Station, thinking that I may have arrived excessively early but it took almost an hour to pass through the emigration and immigration controls.

The Station was one of the smallest I have seen since arriving at Beijing.

It is rather like the Eurostar terminal in London, though the platforms are away from the waiting area.

Idiot proofing the boarding procedures with additional signage.

Boarding started 15 minutes before departure and the announcement boards included this detail.

On every seated (rather than sleeper) Chinese train I have been on the seats have all faced the direction of travel. Nobody has to deal with travelling backwards. The seats are on rails so they can be turned to face the correct direction.

I’d anticipated seeing the scenery of the New Territories as I had arrived in Hong Kong late at night.

Pulling out of Kowloon the train passed through tunnels for around fifteen minutes, before exiting briefly just before pulling into Shenzhen, the first town crossing back into China. From here the journey was above ground, once we cleared a few mountains.

I’d seen a lot of construction taking place in Shanghai. This was nothing compared to the scale of development in Shenzhen.

A new raised motorway was being constructed as was another rail branch line through a new tunnel in the mountain.

Cranes and new skyscrapers, covered in bamboo scaffolding, clustered on the skyline. The city is vast.

There are shorter traditional apartment buildings and an odd sight was a cluster of squat pink buildings covered with silver pipework, looking rather like they had been colonised by alien octopus.

Among all of this is extensive green space, mostly swathes of shrubs rather than forest. The sky is far from blue.

Shenzhen appeared to merge with Humen and, as we pulled into the station, the view I had showed a lit of derelict land and buildings. I couldn’t see the same development boom as in Shenzhen.

The land was flatter and I saw more farming and commercial scale allotments. This continued until the train pulled into Guangzhou South, around an hour after leaving Hong Kong.

The Guangzhou conurbation is vast and sprawling. The area the train passes through rapidly became low-rise buildings and the rail lines climbed high above them.

Air pollution is significant here. It was hard to see the horizon through the smog.

There are wide tracts of greenery – some forest, some farmland but it can’t counter the pollution.

After almost two hours from Hong Kong, the train passed through tunnelled green mountains. Many of them were tiered with rice fields. It was stunning. The tunnel network took around half an hour to cross.

Once through and into the flat valleys, the land was a patchwork of dark green and yellow rice fields, surrounded by conifer woodlands.

With just under an hour until the train arrived in Guilin, the train began to thread it’s way through the Karst mountain tunnels, allowing brief glimpses of the rice fields and the occasional buffalo, as well as crossing rivers.

We arrived early, which gave me a couple of second thoughts about whether I was getting off at the right station.

Off the platform, through the exit and off to wait at the bus stand for the number 22 and as I typed the last paragraphs of this update, I got quite alot of interest from the lady next to me.

She indicated that she didn’t understand what I was typing – just interested. It was the same experience as writing in the park in Beijing.

Categories: Air Pollution, China, Hong Kong, Public Health, Public Transport, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , ,
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