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February 10: After getting a taste of Hong Kong, it was time to catch a train to Guangzhou, in mainland China. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in logistics that day, I neglected to take any photos. At least I still have the ticket!
Taking a train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou is a relatively painless affair, as long as you have a Chinese visa (people visiting only Hong Kong don't need a visa) and your paperwork is in order. Although the two cities are technically both part of the People's Republic of China, the border crossings and customs checks are still set up as they were prior to Hong Kong's return to Chinese governance in 1997. (In other words, I have stamps in my passport for both Hong Kong and the PRC.)
There are several ways to get to Guangzhou from Hong Kong; the Express Through Train that I used is by far the easiest because it's a non-stop, two-hour journey. (Many people take the bus, but that requires that you disembark at the border, walk across the border, and get on a different bus to reach your destination. That seems so Cold War-ish to me.) The convenience of riding the train is balanced by its pricetag -- HK$230 was about US$30 at the time I bought my ticket, by far the priciest way to go. There are times when paying a little extra for some peace of mind is okey-dokey by me.
I rode in the business class section of the train, a clean and comfortable open car with plush cloth seats. Hostesses wheeled carts down the center aisle and provided free drinks and snacks, much like flight attendants in an airplane.
As the predominantly urban landscape whizzed past my window, I was serenaded by the sound of more mobile phones than I have ever heard at one time. There's no doubt about it: southern China is crazy about its mobiles.
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