Friday, July 13, 2012

When In China...

July 12, 2012
Shenzhen - Hong Kong
JW Marriott Shenzhen - Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay

A 7:00am wake up call was on the books today and I headed up the 23rd floor pool for a morning swim. Upon arrival, the sun was hidden by a batch of quickly moving clouds and within 20 minutes it was nothing but blue skies above.

The pool looks out over the Shenzhen Country Club (golf course) and then the downtown area just beyond that. It's a very nice space which I had to myself until this cute Chinese couple of about 30 came and the husband tried to teach his wife how to swim... unsuccessfully !!!

After their splashing around, I hopped in and swam some laps while enjoying the bright sun and warm air. Returning to the room about 9:15am, I had 45 minutes to pack up and check out before Ziyue and his "Driver" picked me up.

Right at 10am, Ziyue and his driver pulled up in a big maroon Mercedes Benz. Being chauffeured around the city was a bit more than I was anticipating but I could definitely get used to it. Our first stop was Splendid China which was the 1st amusement park in China, but in reality was a huge park where each region of China was represented on a miniature scale. The Great Wall, instead of being nearly 7,000 km long, was only 1,000 meters long, and most other sights were on a 1:10 scale. We had a nice English speaking tour guide named Ricky, who was eager to tell me every intricate detail of the 50+ different regions represented. In 90+ degree weather, it was a bit tough staying focused, but I tried my best.

The highlight for me was feeding koi fish from a baby bottle... I can now check that one off my bucket list !

After the "amusement park" that only had 2 rides (a gondola boat) and a zip line which I was too big for, we hopped back in the air conditioned Benz and made our way to lunch.

Lunch was held in this huge 2nd floor room with probably 100+ tables, smoke filled air, and not a Westerner in sight. Ziyue, who had decided that "ALEX" was going to be his Western name, ordered for the group (driver included). In about 5 minutes our order was received, chicken feet, intestine, dim sum, deep fried beef brisket, and a few other unrecognizable items. Very Chinese and very stomachwrenching for me to eat... but I did my best because when in China... do as the Chinese.

After lunch we headed to the Lo Wu border crossing which has a huge shopping mall attached. This is a shopping mall of "counterfeit" merchandise and it's quite a site to see. We looked around for a few minutes, were solicited, stalked and begged to buy from seemingly every vendor, but I got out of there with not a single purchase made... it was time to say our good byes and return to Hong Kong.

Another 60 minute subway ride and I was dropped off just a block from my hotel for the night, the Metropark Causeway Bay. This hotel was probably a 3-4* and was a bit outdated, however the view was great and the free drink coupon at check in was an added plus.

After a quick nap, I was headed out on the town. I made a quick stop back at Southorn Playground to see if any good hoop games were going on... not much tonight so I preceded to head to the Kowloon side of Hong Kong for a quick dinner at McDonald's... it's good to find a familiar place to eat! Ironically, this was also the first meal I'd paid for in 4 days... pretty impressive if I might say so myself!

After McDonald's I made my way down the famous "Ladies' Market". This is a pedestrian only street, 4 blocks in length where hawkers sell all sorts of merchandise. From counterfeit BEATS headphones, to watches, shirts, purses, luggage and more... most anything can be had for a cheap price here at the Ladies market.

I escaped unscathed and it was nearly 10:30pm and a 5:55am wake up call was in the not so distant future. I headed home and was under the covers by 11:15pm... day #8 in the books.

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