Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trip Day 3 - Travel to Chungqing in central China

Dec 28

Breakfast again at the same congee place as yesterday, then we boarded the bus for Shenzhen.

One and a half hours later we arrive at the border post. I think this is some distance into China, but is on a motorway with no exits. We have to take our bags, go through HK immigration (exit), Chinese immigration (entry) and customs. HK residents get much quicker passage and by the time we get to the bus boarding station on the other side there is no sign of our bus or our fellow passengers. A bus company employee rushes up to us and points to 11:30 on his watch. By 11:40 a bus arrives and we continue onto Shenzhen airport, another 20 minutes away.

We arrive in Chongqing and use the travel service in the airport to book hotel rooms (2 doubles) for the night. We also arrange our river trip. John had wanted to catch the hydrofoil, but the travel agent insisted this would mean a very early departure and a poor experience. You actually have to catch a bus for 3 hrs to where the boats depart, and the hydrofoil has very small aircraft style windows with no deck. So we book a 2 day trip starting the following afternoon. We still had to take the 3 he bus trip to where the boats departs unless we want to spend a third night aboard. The girl also insist we don't need a ticket for Tom. We are traveling second class on a local tour boat in a 4 birth cabin and only have to pay for Tom if he has his own bed. The implication is that unless the boat is totally booked out they are not going to put someone else in the cabin with us and Tom can use the 4th bed for free.

Unfortunately we had not come across a bank of china so far. There may have been one at Shenzhen airport - it's quite large - but we were short of time and couldn't look far. So we still only had HK dollars but no RMB. We had to give the travel agent. Deposit in HK$ and promised to pay in full in local currency tomorrow when they would return the HK cash.

The tour company drove us to our hotel where it turned out that each room contained 2 double beds. So after the squash in HK we end up with too *many* beds.

A brief walk around the surrounding streets showed liberal consumption of peanuts. Our Chinese note about peanut allergy was written in the full Chinese characters not simplified, and we were unsure of the literacy of the local food vendors so we ate in the hotel.

I tried on a couple of coats in the market but could not find anything to fit. The stall holders were friendly and not too pushy. The all smiled at Tom and patted him on the head. He took this very well, only turning shy on a couple of occasions.

As neither John nor I had working mobiles, John purchased a couple of pre-paid SIM cards while he was out.

The boys settled in their room without too much trouble, and so we come to the end of day 3.

Both boys are turning out to be pretty tolerant travelers, although I am struggling to answer all Jack's questions such as: How can you rent a country? (after my potted history of Hong Kong's British rule and return to Chinese control) and detailed questions about exchange rates, floating and fixed currencies, the value of money and gold, etc.)

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