A Perfect Morning and a Long Afternoon

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October 6th 2009
Published: October 15th 2009
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Toni and I arose early to get the most out of our morning. Abby stayed and slept since she wasn't feeling the best and thought she was coming down with a cold. After a leisurely McDonald's breakfast and delivery of Abby's food, we headed out for one last adventure.

We walked south from our hotel toward the Xi River. The river was wider than I expected it to be, almost reminding me of the Yangtze in Chongqing. (Except that it wasn't brown.) We walked east along the river, taking in the fresh air, cool breeze, and warm sun. The views were excellent and I managed to get some photos of fishermen and boats. It was a calm start to the day.

We walked along until we got to the pagoda. Which was closed. Of course. From what we could tell by peeking between the slats, it looked like it was being repaired and renovated. Some green tiles were new and the color of fresh grass, while others were older and dull. There were a few people buzzing around inside but no one was doing anything specific. We couldn't read the sign on the door.

We walked around the
Xi RiverXi RiverXi River

Not a meter is wasted for viable farmland.
complex a bit more, taking photos of the neighborhood. It was quite a contrast to Guangzhou (and Shenzhen). Some of the homes looked like they were nearing their last days, laundry quietly flauting itself against some future fate.

Being unable to spot the tower we were also looking for, we headed back west along the river. We stopped for a rest in a "pagoda" sitting area overlooking the water and just chatted, relaxing and taking in the view. I realized later that the "pagoda" we sat in was actually the tower we were looking for all along.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped for bottled water and I stopped for one last ice cream cone. I love McDonald's tasty treat snack stations and wish they had them in the US. I got a cone with raspberry swirled in for less than a dollar. There's something very satisfying and vacationy about walking through a nice hotel lobby eating the last bits of an ice cream cone, knowing that everyone is already looking at you because you look different.

We three checked out and headed back to the restaurant from our first day. I got the noodles with shrimp dumplings again, while Toni and Abby opted to just get items from the dim sum menu. I traded a dumpling for a spring onion cake--I don't know which of us was happier with the trade, me or Abby.

We walked the block to the bus station, and plopped ourselves down to watch the electronic signs for the next 45 minutes. The station didn't have one big sign like some do, and the mini signs above each gate only give information for the next two buses. With a bus leaving every 5-10 minutes, it takes a long time for the information you want to come up. While there were 12 doors leading outside, there were 15 spots for buses to park! And the information you needed would only be posted on the gate/door listed on your ticket!
And in our case it was wrong. They told use spot 15, but the ticket lady gestured to our left, and I spotted the bus to SZ in spot 13. How it is that they can manage to make that mistake is beyond me. I'm just glad both Toni and I can read some Chinese!

Our bus
Door into the Pagoda complexDoor into the Pagoda complexDoor into the Pagoda complex

We couldn't read the sign, but we guessed it said they were renovating.
ride, two and a half hours according to Lonely Planet, was to be 3 hours according to the guy sitting next to me. Perhaps they meant 3 hours to the SZ city area. Or the SEZ zone itself. It certainly didn't mean to the final bus station. There were several stops along the way, including a few security check points. At one check point, the police came one and pulled a few guys off the bus. Last year, when I went to Yangshuo, they made us all get off and walk through with our IDs. This time only 5 men were lucky winners. Since SZ is a Special Economic Zone with different laws and benefits, the security is needed to be sure that no one is entering illegally. I wonder how it works if someone is going to SZ to visit a friend but isn't a resident of SZ and they get pulled for inspection. Luckily, my visa has been converted into a residence permit so I have nothing to worry about.

We finally reached our final bus station in Futian 4 and half hours after we left. Thankfully, the bathrooms were clean and well-aired. After taking care of business we discussed how everyone would get photos from me (since Abby forgot her camera and Toni's batteries died half-way through our hike on Monday). Then we all climbed on the subway and passed into the night.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


The houses nearbyThe houses nearby
The houses nearby

Yep, houses, not apts. But they looked like they were barely standing.
Dragon HeadsDragon Heads
Dragon Heads

We saw these in a shop walking back to our hotel.

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