After missing my train because I was at the wrong station (the hostel’s fault, not mine), I rebooked a ticket for later that day. I hung around the train station and finally arrived in Chongqing just after 10pm. The hostel was located about 30 minutes outside the city in a small historic town. It was actually a nice little place. I spent the day in the city just exploring around. It is probably one of the biggest cities in the world with just over 23 million people. Crazy for a city that nobody has ever heard of! I only had a couple hours of free time though as I had a flight to Shenzhen. My China visa is good for 1 year, but only in increments of 30 days, meaning I have to exit and reenter the country every month. I’ve been here just shy of 30 days, so I figured it would be easier to fly to Shenzhen/Hong Kong now to get it done, before I head to some of the more rural parts of China for my final couple of weeks here.
I got to Shenzhen just before midnight and the subway was closed, so I ended up negotiating back and forth using a Chinese/English translation app in my iPhone to get a taxi to my hostel. I finally got there, but he was not familiar with the area at all. So after another hour or so of wandering around downtown Shenzhen I found it. It was basically this couple’s apartment on the 21st floor. They have a empty upstairs so they rent it out. Really kind of nice as it was just like hanging out at a friend’s house. They had their parents and friends with them, so we had a good time.
The next morning I headed to Hong Kong. I got through Chinese immigration just fine (to leave China), but ended up waiting almost 4 hours at the Hong Kong border. They only had 3 immigration windows open for the hundreds and hundreds of people trying to get through. I finally got across about 2pm, which was pretty late and didn’t really give me much time to explore the city. The border is about an hour from downtown, so by 5pm I had to head back. First impressions of the city are that it is HUGE! The downtown skyline sits right on the river and goes on for miles. There are hundreds of skyscrapers that line the very edge…very impressive.! I’d really like to spend a week or more here exploring the city and eating some more of the awesome food located here, but not this trip!
Shenzhen is the city just across the border in China. I had a hostel just about 5 minutes away. The city itself, while quite big, is spread out a bit so it really doesn’t seem that large. It’s mainly known for all the electronic factories. Basically anything with a battery or that plugs into the wall is made here. There is a HUGE block in the center of the city, which houses 5-6 huge buildings all filled with vendors selling their silicon crap. Anything that goes into a computer, phone, camera, TV, washing machine, fan or air-conditioned is sold here. There are massive piles of different cords, cables, batteries, headphones, fans, mouse pads, bags and boxes. The indistinguishable sound of boxes and packing tape is pretty noisy and hard to ignore. Almost all of the stuff I saw was being packed up into boxes to get shipped out. It is like a 24/7/365 version of CES.
While in Shenzhen I went and found a local church branch. Although very rare in Mainland China, there are a couple branches in some of the larger cities. It was a pretty cool experience. After almost 2 hours on subway and walking around, I finally found it. The meeting place is a rented house in a nice part of town. One of the first things they said from the pulpit was that while in China, we are forbidden to preach the gospel. No sharing the gospel in any way. The government has allowed us to meet, but we have to follow their very strict instructions for doing so. There was also a very interesting discussion about a Chinese member that was attending and whether or not she was allowed to. In the end they allowed it because she was born in Canada. Normally the government restricts the Chinese nationals and the foreigners, saying they can’t meet together.
I spent the next day exploring the rest of the city and a creepy abandoned amusement park in the middle of town, before catching a flight to Zhangjiajie.