Wednesday, July 23rd to Thursday, July 24th We set out from our hotel (baggage getting increasingly heavy and weather increasingly sweat-inducing) to our pre-appointed bus meeting spot. Upon arrival, Jeannette inquired about the bus at the hotel lobby we had arrived at and they did not know what she was talking about. The hotel graciously called the CITS agent and figured out that we should be waiting across the street from this hotel on the side of the road (by now we should have known), not in the lobby as instructed. The bus arrived soon thereafter and we were swooped up and on our way.
The bus to Shenzhen is an 11-hour journey through the night, to conveniently and cheaply get us to the Chinese border with Hong Kong. After boarding and getting situated, it became clear that the “sleeper” bus would prohibit most sleep. Each passenger is given a bed that is affixed in a semi-reclined position with the footwell of the passenger behind you under your back. Accordingly, your footwell is a tiny, enclosed space for your lower legs, encasing them in a rigid, plastic tube up to about your knees. If you are any taller than the very tallest Chinese person, in this case approximately 5′-6″, you could not possibly fit into these beds. Josh could not even get his legs inside of the footwell compartment and thus was a tangled mess of protruding and gangly limbs. In addition, we had a few too many “precious” pieces of luggage we didn’t want below the bus, making all of this more difficult. The best description we could come up with for the bed compartment was something like the experience of chaperoning a young child onto an amusement park ride in the kiddie-land section. You squeeze yourself into a very awkward position to fit into a very hard and unforgiving container that you will then be jostled in and bruised for approximately 1.5 minutes, only in this case that lasts for approximately 11 hours.
Unfortunately, being picked up en route alongside the road and being foreigners and not speaking Mandarin (thus not complaining), we were given the beds directly over the rear wheels. This position afforded us the very best opportunity to experience every bump and bang along the road. Jeannette described it as each set of wheels going down a different set of stair cases asynchronously. Additionally, the bus driver could not seem to find a steady tempo and would accelerate and then brake shockingly hard down windy mountain roads. Whenever the bus would brake hard, you would be compacted into your leg compartment (even if you didn’t fit into it). At times, Josh thought that the bus driver was driving recklessly to hurt him personally. This was probably because J+J didn’t know to take their shoes off and put them in a red bag upon entering the bus and seemed suitable punishment. Anyhow, it was quite like a roller coaster (driven by the devil himself on a chronically long journey over a painfully hard and bumpy track through a fiery hell in a tortured and misshaped cage).
Aside from that we arrived in Shenzhen fine. Josh unfolded himself carefully and was pleasantly surprised he could still walk. We took a cab from the terminus of our sleeper bus ride to another bus and train station at the Chinese/Hong Kong border.
A picture of our short time in Shenzhen (Josh has been here before though, too):
The border crossing was straightforward and we walked across the border and through the variety of checkpoints without incident. We then caught a commuter train from the very Northernmost point of Hong Kong to our hotel on the harbour looking across at Hong Kong island. We are all settled into our final stop and glad to be here.
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