After spending 3 weeks in a country where few people smile, I was happy to see lots of smiling faces. Most couldn’t stop staring and several wanted pictures, but it was ok. We were in China to visit my dad and I was so excited to see a familiar face. China wasn’t high on our list of places we wanted to visit, to be honest it wasn’t on the list at all when we originally started planning! We came to check out the place my dad had fallen in love with and see some of the amazing landscape we had only seen in pictures. We arrived to Hong Kong on May Day. a big holiday, so we decided not to spend anytime there and instead headed directly to the border to spend some time in Shenzhen. I knew there were a lot of people in China and we had experienced MANY Chinese tourists over the last 9 months of travel. Our expectations were very low, but we tried to enter with an open mind. I was first struck by the friendly people, even though most couldn’t speak English, they tried to help. Second, I confirmed the fact that indeed there are A LOT of people in China. Third I was shocked by the prices of things like food, coffee and attractions all of which nearly compared to the US. This was definitely not a developing country…although all the squat toilets are a bit baffling! We will see how long we last in this giant country.
Coming from a place like Vietnam where we didn’t have the best experiences, there was a high possibility that things could only get better. Things got better as soon as we landed in Hong Kong and were reunited with Simone’s father. It’s hard to give an accurate first impression on this place in the first twenty-four hours because we’ve been visiting with Simone’s father and relaxing. Shenzhen is a huge city with a lot of people and far fewer motorbikes than we’ve seen in the rest of Asia. There are more cars though and the roads are much better with an actual structure to the driving, well, sort of. I don’t know how I’m going to feel about a place that I can’t drink a bottle of water on the train, but the lady standing next to me can spit a loogie on the floor or where people use the sidewalk as their personal bathroom (number one and two). It’s going to be hard traveling through a place where not many people speak English, but that’s part of the experience. We’ll see how things go.