Another visa run, this time take the girlfriend and cannily meet friends while there!
Ahhh the visas. I was half in process of getting a student visa for a year through a friend of a friend. I am actually studying, but won't be studying at a school, so need to use some guangxi (relationships) to get a visa. However due to some holdups etc I found myself with a visa about to expire which necessitates a trip to Hong Kong for another tourist visa. Since I love HK, it's not really a big drama for me as long as I have the cash and this time my girlfriend doesn't have a job (she was looking but was jobless for a couple of months) so we decide to go together.
This is the strange thing though: In order for my girlfriend to go to HK, she needs a visa. So to travel within her own country, she needs a visa. Huh?? There are actually good reasons for this though - previously when HK was handed back to China the place was flooded with people from the mainland as HK was considerably richer than mainland China. This gap is closing quickly, but still exists - the cool thing these days is for rich people from the mainland going to HK for a shopping trip. Due to the flood of people though, the Chinese govt realised they needed a visa program to slow the flood - hence a visa for Chinese people to visit HK. Its quite funny though - I can go to HK visa free for 90 days. My girlfriend needs to apply for a HK/Macau visa which is issued for a maximum of 7 days in a special HK/Macau passport book which she also has to apply for. WEIRD!
Anyway, we booked tickets on the train and off we went! I hadn't really been to Guangzhou yet (I biked across the city on my way back to NZ last time), so we decided to use the last few days of my visa up visiting Guangzhou. We didn't regret this as Guangzhou was surprisingly pleasant, despite a lot of rain and hot weather. Its a pretty easy to get around humongous city with a good subway and enough parks/sights/food etc to keep us interested for a few days.
Then it was off to Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Walking across the bridge to HK was pretty exciting, we had to split up because I am a foreigner. Pookles was questioned a lot and had her bag searched as she was from Yunnan (drug capital province of China!). Mine was sweet though and I ended up talking to an Indian guy who was bringing his family for the first time. They were getting a lot of questions at the border!
In Hong Kong we stayed at one of my favourite places - Lamma Island - a little island out in the middle of HK bay. Its very laid back out there and is a good retreat from HK central. Plus the island has awesome running tracks on it, whoop! The only problem was CM was sick for 2 reasons: she had never been on a boat in the sea (sea sickness, though she never spewed!) and she suffered a bit as it was the first time she had been down at sea level. Low altitude sickness DOES exist, we can confirm it (she has spent her life at 2000m+!). The result was a nauseous CM for a few days, but that wasn't too bad as I had to study for my IT exam, which I passed (just!) on our 5th day there.
We also met up with Droo and Hayley while we were there. Droo studied with me at CIT and they were passing through HK on their way back to NZ. Was great that we could time our trips there for the same time - we ended up meeting up with them and hanging out for a couple of days.