Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Hanging out in Hong Kong

from the water

The Chinese consulate in Hanoi deceptively called the sticker they slapped in my passport a “6-month visa”. Two expensive, separate entries of 30 days each were less than ideal for my goals this year, but for once I decided to take what I could get rather than try for more. Still, I couldn’t complain: a visa run was an excuse to get back to my favorite Asian city of Hong Kong. And the most scenic way to go is by train.

Chinese trains are some of the most efficient, economical ways to travel the country. Hard- and soft-sleeper beds are comfortable – as long as you’re a man under 6 feet tall or a woman under size 10 US. But it’s true what they say about Chinese toilets: avoid whenever possible. The prospect of spending 24 hours on the train from Kunming to Guangzhou wasn’t intimidating – it was the toilets that scared me.

I’m not going to go into details – but they were about as expected. My advice? Best to take care of everything within the first hour or two of the journey, then not drink ANYthing till the end, unless desperate. I even passed on a few tempting bottles of Tsingdao.

As soon as I stepped over the border in Shenzhen / Lo Wu I stared at the spic-and-span floors, at the escalators, at the efficiency of it all. A week in Hong Kong brings plenty of reminders of why I love the place, and Typhoon Gomi’s washed away the main reason I left (pollution).

I’m staying in a beautiful flat on my old island of Lamma. The sea sparkles outside two walls of windows, and good friends live downstairs. It’s great to be back in the closest thing I’ve found to ‘home’.

[Photo nicked from my previous Blog ]

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