Days 122-125; November 17th-20th; Macau – Shenzhen – Hong Kong- Shenzhen; 27,287km-27,504km
So where were we… Some hectic days of scrambling from city to city, sightseeing, and fund raising events as we wandered around the heavily urbanized southern Chinese south around Guangzhou getting to some of the provinces on our list that are clustered down there.
We had tried to get across to Macau from Zhuhai on our bike, but without the necessary registration and paperwork, didn’t look like it would be possible. We found a Home Inn down an alley lined with chickens, ducks, and other birds (meant for food no doubt) and after dropping our stuff off and convincing ourselves we were free of Bird Flu,we made our way back to the border by foot.
Macau is quite a small city and you don’t need much time for a visit there. A look at a map told us that we could essentially walk across the length of the city in about 3-5km. This seemed like a good way to enjoy Macau with what limited time we had so we made our way through.
The Former Portuguese Colony
The city has a really great energy about it. The architecture has a distinctly European feel to it (being a former Portuguese colony), with narrow streets, churches on street corners, and public squares. The buzz of all the people busily going about their business, commuting to work, and selling things on the street gives a very Asian energy to the place. One thing that both Amy and I noticed was that the locals seemed to be much more polite (from a Western perspective) than their cousins on the Mainland. We didn’t encounter any spitting, “loogie hocking”, unnecessarily loud ring tones, or yelling and there was generally more of an appreciation of personal space despite the high density of people.
Earning Some Gas Money
Our walk led us through a park with an old Portuguese military fort on top of a hill, and the main bay where most of the casinos were located. We decided that to mark our visit to Macau, we had to do at least a bit of gambling, so we walked over to the most garish casino we could find and converted RMB200 into HK Dollars (the local currency of Macau as well as Hong Kong) to play some of the cheaper tables. We made ourselves comfortable at one of the roulette tables where we turned HK$100 into about HK$230. We tried our hand at one of the slot machines after that but weren’t as lucky so back to roulette it was. There we turned another HK$100 into HK$300. We actually got to as high as HK$400 but dropped off a bit until hitting our self-imposed floor of HK$300.
So with that, we took our winnings to find a nearby place to have a Macau style Dim Sum dinner among the bright lights of downtown Macau. We had a 30 minute bus ride back to the border and then the actual border crossing back to the mainland that took about an hour and a half due to truck loads of Chinese tourists also heading back to Zhuhai. By 10:30pm we made it back to our hotel, after 300km of highway riding, a couple hours of walking across the city of Macau, an hour at the casino, and then a couple hours getting back across to our hotel in Mainland China. All in all a busy day.
Swing Back To Shenzhen
No time for rest yet though! The next day we were back on the bike, this time taking the National Road around the southern side of Guangzhou and into Shenzhen where we would try and cross into Hong Kong. We tried again to be allowed to cross the border but again were met with sympathetically delivered rejection. So we found ourselves a hotel where we could park our stuff while we crossed by foot. This time we had a place to stay in Hong Kong and so just got the smallest and cheapest room available to store the majority of our stuff and packed what we needed into a couple backpacks before crossing the border.
The dad and step mother of one of my very good friends have a house on the southern end of Hong Kong island and had invited us to stay when we passed through. Unfortunately, partly due to our being unfamiliar with the geography and partly due to the distance, it took us a good 4 hours to make our way to the other end of the city. 2 busses, one train, and a cab ride later we arrived at the amazing house overlooking the sea and cliffs of southern Hong Kong.
No time to linger though and the next day we had to make our back up. More familiar with the Octopus transportation system (the HK municipal transportation system) though this time around, it was much easier for us to head back to the border. So after a stop off in Central, the financial center of the city, by mid-afternoon we were back in Shenzhen.
Gambling and Sightseeing, Check! Next, Fundraising
After checking out of our little closet of a hotel near the HK border we drove to the outskirts of the city to a luxury hotel where Free Lunch for Children would be hosting a celebrity golf tournament the next day. The hotel and charity had invited us to come participate if we could make it. Though we weren’t worth much on the golf course, there would be an evening event with all the participants where they would be presenting awards for the tournament and they wanted us to present one of the awards.
It was a pretty cool event. The celebrities were split into three teams, HK, Taiwan, and Mainland celebrities. There was a whole red carpet entrance organized for the dinner and we were announced as one of the special guests, walking down the carpet and signing the big background banner. There were speakers talking about the charity, and an auction with the proceeds going to support the charity. We had our brief moment on stage presenting the award for longest drive (to go along with our distance record attempt).
Overall a cool experience. Nice to take a day off in a nice hotel while we waited for the event in the evening. Being part of this formal event along with the charity was fun too and nice to see Free Lunch really being effective in what they are trying to do, bringing more attention for their cause and raising a good amount of money for the schools.
Hectic few days around the south without much forward progress in terms of kilometers covered. That was going to change though, with less than 10 provinces left to go now but winter fast approaching in the north. Next stop, Fujian Province!