Day 1: from home to Hong Kong (24 June 2009)
After my wife already left me to Jakarta at Saturday 6th June, it was my turn to leave
home atWednesday 24th June. Very early in the morning I woke up. Although I had
plenty of time, I just wanted to leave my house as clean as possible. So after washing
some last dishes and double-checking everything, I took on my jacket and put on both
backpacks. One huge backpack with all my clothes and things I really needed and one
smaller bag with some books and snacks to huge at the flight. I locked the door and
walked to the bus stop, a few minutes walking away.
It seemed that I left my home way too early, so I could even get one bus earlier than
planned. After only 15 minutes trip, we arrived at the train station and I could directly hop
on the train to Amsterdam Airport. I already bought my train ticket some days before at
the Internet. That’s just perfect. No long queues and risk your money with the new
“skimmers”. During the one and a half hour train journey, I’ve got a SMS from my wife.
She and her mum just arrived safely from Jakarta to Hong Kong. I was very happy to
hear that news, because I knew that both women had a little bit high temperature at that
time and I’ve heard about strict checks about the new H1N1 flu.
After arriving at Amsterdam Airport, I went to the moneychanger to get the first HK
dollars. So I am sure to have enough money for the first days. Now it was time for
checking myself in and get through the security. That went without any problem. I still
had some three hours to wait until boarding started. Although it was still morning, I got
myself a pint of beer. It was already pleasant at the bar, so the time was running fast.
Finally I walked to the gate, where already a long queue started to board. After another
fifteen minutes waiting, I went into the plane of Cathay Pacific to find my seat.
Two days before my departure, I already checked in at the internet and I could choose
my seat. I always prefer to sit at the window seat, so I have more space for my legs and
no one will bother me, when someone needs to go to the toilet. Comparing with the old
crappy planes I used two years ago, this plane looks brand-new. I had more space for
my long legs than before and also the in-flight entertainment looks great. Well. I was
ready for my 11 hours flight to Hong Kong.
Flight to Hong Kong
Although the long flight, I wasn’t bored at all. First we’ve got dinner and directly after that
I enjoyed the movie “street fighter, the legend of Chun Li”. It was a nice movie with good
martial arts scenes. In the meantime the pretty stewardesses spoiled me with some
glasses of Whiskey Coke. Maybe that will make me sleepy, but hell no. I just wasn’t tired
enough. So I just start listening to 888 different kinds of CD Albums. I didn’t have the
time to listen to all of the albums. Just before I knew, we already landed at Hong Kong
Day 2: Arrival at Hong Kong (25 June 2009)
At half past seven in the morning my plane landed at Hong Kong at the island Lantau.
Inside the airport I saw many warnings about the new H1N1 flu and on the way to the
baggage claim, my temperature was measured. Luckily I was still healthy and without
any problems I’ve got my luggage and went to the arrival hall. There I met my wife
Wulan, who was waiting for me, together with a Cousin. We walked directly outside of
the airport to the bus station. Outside the temperature was nice and warm, but not to
moistly. With the three of us we get into such a nice green double-decker bus, which you
can also see in England. We drove for more than two hours to the apartment of the
family of my mother in law. I always thought that the family was living in Kowloon (which
is near Hong Kong Island). But after a look on the map, I found out that they were living
in the district “New Territories”. That is closer to the mainland of China than the famous
Hong Kong Central.
When we arrived at the apartment, I met the other members of the family, including my
mother in law. They all were very welcoming me and gave me tea and fresh fruit. After
about one hour of relaxing and refreshing, we went out for lunch. We went info a typical
dim sum restaurant and taste lot of different styles. Dim sums are small steamed pasta’s
which contain different kinds of surprises. Some are filled with meat or vegetables others
have combinations of crumbled peanut and coconut. It tasted really delicious and filled
my hungry stomach.
With another double-decker bus we drove to Hong Kong central. Along the way we’ve
got a huge downpour, but when we arrived after one and a half hour driving, the weather
became better. It was a short walk to the peak tram. This tram brought us in only 8
minutes to the top of the famous Victoria peak (386 meters). You can imagine how steep
that trip was. On the top we enjoyed the marvelous view over the harbor and all the
skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. We walked around a bit and had some
drinks. There was even a Madame Tussaud museum with wax statues at the peak. Here
we met Bruce Lee and Michelle Yeoh. Sadly that didn’t give us their autograph.
Halfway afternoon we went downstairs again and walked between the huge skyscrapers.
While we were looking to find the jetty of the Star Ferry, we’ve get lost. In the end we just
took the subway to get to the Kowloon. That was a bit of a disappointment for me. I
preferred the nice boat trip with nice views and a fresh wind in my face. At the subway
station it was just a short walk to the embankment. The women were a bit tired and sat
down and enjoyed the wonderful view over HK Island. I decided to walk a bit further and
walked over the “Avenue of Stars”. Many famous Chinese movie stars like Jet Li and
Jacky Chan left their handprints behind on the paving stones. Sadly I didn’t find one from
the pretty Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger). There was even a huge statue of Bruce Lee.
Skyline Hong Kong
Back with the rest of the family members, we waited together till it was dark. The family
was convinced that the light and sound show over HK Island will start at 19:00. I was
very curious about that, but it was just half past five. After questioning some other
people, we found out that the show will probably at 20:00. That was a bit too late for my
wife and her mom. So just before darkness we went back home. That was a major
disappointment for me and I hoped to be back here tomorrow. After another two hours in
the subways and some busses, we are close to our accommodation. Here we had
dinner on the streets. That tasted very delicious. Back at our apartment we went directly
to our beds, but not before we thanked our host family for their hospitality. The next
morning they had to work again, so probably we won’t see them anymore.
Day 3: Bored in Hong Kong (26 June 2009).
When we woke up our host family were indeed gone. Another cousin will pick us up later
that morning. So in the meantime we all get showered and get our belongings ready.
She just arrived, when we were almost finished. This cousin could speak reasonable
English and was very cheerful.We took our bags and left the apartment. By bus we
drove to the north and got closer to the mainland of China.
Our cousin also lives in a huge flat building. Inside her apartment it looked like there was
a bomb explosion. Everywhere we found laundry and suitcases. Her oldest son was just
back from the USA and having holiday for a couple of weeks with his parents. We didn’t
have the chance to get a proper breakfast, so our cousin invited us to a nearby noodle
restaurant. Here I ate one of the best noodle soups I ever tasted. Some Chinese people
were looking surprised to me. Probably they never saw a “long nose” eating with
chopsticks so clumsy.
During our late breakfast we discussed about our plans for the rest of the day. Originally
we wanted to visit the island Lantau. On a top of a peak there is huge Buddha and you
can visit with a chairlift. That sounds interesting enough for us. But our cousin told us
that this was too far away and it was also very expensive. I asked her if she had some
other options to do, because my guidebooks didn’t mention about any of the villages
where we stayed.
In the end we went to a nearby Taoist temple. It was worth the visit, but after half an
hour we were finished with our visit. In the meantime it was already lunchtime. Together
with some other relatives we went to a shopping mall and get some more dim sums.
Yesterday we were always too late with paying for the meals, because the family was
faster than us. But now we were faster. We fell it was our duty to pay at least for the
meals. Our host families did already so much for us.
The rest of the day we just spend in the apartment and I fell bored. I couldn’t follow the
conversations between my mother-in-law and her family. I was also tired of my flight, so I
went to bed and caught some sleep. During diner time I woke up. This time we just stay
in the apartment, because outside the weather was awful. A typhoon rushed nearby
Hong Kong, so there was a lot of wind and rain. After diner and taking the necessary
family photographs, we went to bed again. I was looking forward to the day after
tomorrow when the real roundtrip will start.
Our visit with our family in Hong Kong
Day 4: From Hong Kong to Guilin via Shenzhen (27 June 2009).
After a poor night’s rest, I was happy that the sun was rising. If I could I just left this
apartment right now, but we had to wait till afternoon. Our cousin bought some fresh
bread for everyone and during breakfast we heard that Michael Jackson was dead.
During my teenager years I liked his music a lot, but it didn’t surprised me that he died at
Our cousin asked us about our flight schedule for today, so she could make a good plan
for us. I showed her our itinerary and told her that we had E-tickets. My Mother-in-Law
didn’t know about the e-ticket thing and was worried that we didn’t have the old
fashioned paper-tickets. Our cousin called to our travel agency to ask about the
procedure. They told us that there was no reason to worry. We only needed to show our
passport at the check-in desks.
To killing time, our cousin brought us to a small park close to the apartment. The
weather was already better than yesterday and it was nice to sit in the park. Chinese
people from all ages were doing all kinds of exercises. At the right side there was a man
teaching Tai Chi Chuan (88 form) to a younger woman, while at the left side old men
were playing Mahjong. So now and then people were running over a circuit and doing all
kinds of warming-up exercises. It was very joyful to watch them. In Holland people are
just walking with their dogs, drinking beer or sleeping in a park. A bit further in the park I
thought to see a playground for kids, but it turned out to be a place for doing gymnastic
exercises. The mother of our cousin pushed me to do also some exercise. In her opinion
I was too heavy.
Sadly the rain was pouring down again. So we walked to another restaurant and ate
some fried chicken with rice. After lunch it was slowly time to go. The cousin suggested
that she joined us to go to Shenzhen Airport. So whenever there was a language
problem, she could help. We were very happy with that.
We walked with all our belongings to the train station. From here it was only a 10 minute
trip to the border crossing near Shenzhen. At the border crossing people from the health
department put a temperature gun to everyone’s head. For my mother-in-law and me
there was no problem. But it seemed that Wulan had more trouble. Her temperature was
37, 3 degrees. After checking one more time, the officer gets another temperature
device and checked again. There was still no change, but finally Wulan was allowed to
cross the border. That was a bit scary. After the rest of the bureaucracy crap and
checks, we arrived one hour later at the bus station.
From here we took a minibus, directly to the airport of Shenzhen. This also took about
one hour, so I was already a bit scared that we didn’t have enough time at the airport.
That this reaction was a bit exaggerate, turned out later…
When we arrived at the airport our cousin walked very fast with our passport to several
check-in desks. All went so fast, that before we know what was going on, our luggage
was already almost gone. I didn’t have even time to put my protection cover over my
rucksack. In the end everything went fine and we got our boarding passes. We said
goodbye to our cousin and thanked her for her great help. Now she had to go back all
the way to her apartment.
While we were waiting for our plane, we heard a disappointed announcement. Our plane
should departure at 21 o’clock and arrives one hour later at Guilin. But this
announcement told us, that our plane was delayed due to bad weather. The typhoon that
bothered us yesterday was now bothering us again inland. We had to wait for more than
four hours, before our plane finally took off. We hoped that our guide was still waiting for
us at the airport. One hour after midnight we finally landed safely at Guilin airport. Indeed
our guide was still waiting for us, but she was a bit concerned already. At last we went to
bed at 2:30 am. We were so tired that we directly fell asleep. The next day our real
roundtrip will start. But are we ready for it??
Day 5: Boat trip over Li-river (28 June 2009)
After a short but good nights rest, we woke up at eight o’clock in the morning.We all just
take a quick shower and went up to the restaurant for a breakfast. Our hotel was a good
business hotel lying at the center of the city. Many western tourists also visit this hotel.
So this breakfast in the restaurant was very good. The bread with jam, scrambled eggs,
bacon and a sausage will always make a good start for me. My mood was getting better
and I was ready to enjoy a nice day
Our female guide was a young good looking cheerful girl, who could speak English
fluently. Together with our driver she carried our luggage into the minibus. At 9:00am we
drove to the Li-River, where a boat was waiting for us. After half an hour we arrived at
the harbor. At the parking lot there were already many other minibuses and touring cars.
It was really crowded, but what else would you think about such a touristy place. Our
guide told us to wait, while she was getting tickets for us. We could leave the big
luggage in our bus. The driver would bring that to our next hotel. With only our small bag
with only the highly necessary stuff, we walked to one of the many boats. Our guide
arranged reserved seats for us at the first floor. That was very convenient, so we could
see everything clearly and sit again whenever we wanted. After a good fresh cup of tea,
we left in the direction of Yangshuo.
The boat sailed over the twisting Li-River past beautiful yellow/green karstmountains,
which look like pimples in the landscape. In the beginning we were taking already many
pictures, because the nature was really beautiful. Our guide warned us, not to take so
many pictures already. The boat trip last for 4 hours and this part was the least beautiful
part.We were glad she warned us and listen more carefully about her explanations. She
said that Chinese people gave names to the peaks because of their appearance. The
names were like: “Standing woman with child” or “Boy that prayed to Buddha”. When I
saw those peaks, I wonder if the Chinese people maybe smoked some opium or ate
some LSD. I just saw peaks that are beautiful, but maybe I don’t have that much fantasy.
Boat trip over Li-River
During the boat trip we find out that it was also possible to climb to the roof of the boat.
That was a nice place to shoot some good pictures. Sadly the Chinese (well, all the
Asian people) have a bad habit that they want to be at the picture with the landscape as
background. Of course they make always the funny peace sign. For me it is more
difficult to shoot pictures of the landscape without the heads of Chinese people. Luckily I
am taller than the average Chinese and was able to make some nice shots. After some
pressure of my wife, I also had to be on the picture with the landscape. I tried to make
excuses that my ugly face would mess up the beautiful landscape, but it didn’t worked.
At least I have proof now that I was really there and didn’t download the pictures from
At last the pushing of the crowd is too much for me and I decide to go down. Here was
still a quiet spot at the forward deck. Even more “long noses” enjoyed their view here.
Our guide also joined again and is curious about the Netherlands. She wishes to see the
tulips and the mills once in her life. When I told her that the tulips only bloom for three
month during springtime, she was surprised. That some people wear wooden shoes
(clogs), surprised her even more.
Our guide showed us a note of 20 Yuan and pointing to some of the peaks. The note
also contains landscape with karstmountains. But when I look more careful, I could see
that the picture is exactly the same as where we sailed now. Of course that is a nice
possibility to shoot a picture. Sadly it just started to rain, which made it not a good
shooting opportunity. In the meantime the staff prepared the lunch buffet. There were
several Chinese dishes with meat and vegetables, but there were also chips for the
western tourists. One glass of beer was included during the lunch, but if we liked to drink
more, than we have to pay it by ourselves. Wulan and my mother-in-law didn’t want to
drink beer, so in the end I had three glasses of beer. After the lunch the staff asked if we
wanted to taste some snake wine. That sounded good for me, but the wine was way
stronger than at home. This tasted more like vodka. The rest of the boat trip, I just
nipped at my glass.
In the afternoon we arrived at the town named Yangshuo and get from the boat. Our
guide showed us the way to our hotel. The main street was narrow and full with souvenir
shops. It was so crowded that it looked of all the Chinese needed to walk in this street.
Luckily our hotel was not so far. Our room was at the back of this budget hotel. That was
our luck, because at the main street there are many bars with loud music. The rest of the
afternoon there was no program. Our guide would meet us again during dinner.
After a short rest in our room, we decided to explore the town. We walked across the
souvenir shops to watch some nice memories for home. It was not as crowded as when
we arrived. Probably the most Chinese tourist went already back to Guilin. Near the river
we saw a man standing on a bamboo raft. On his shoulder he had a long stick with two
cormorant birds. When it is dark these birds are fishing. With their bill they catch the fish.
But because there is a wire on their neck, they can’t swallow the fish. The man can just
get the fish out of their bills without using a fishing rod. Wow… that’s lazy!!!
Sadly it started to rain again and we ran back to our hotel. Just in time before the heaven
pour some heavy shower on us.
Just before diner the weather clear up. Our guide was right on time and we walked to a
restaurant with the name: “Mei you”. Everyone who has ever been in Chine before
should have heard these words (Sounds like Mei Jo). Literally it means something as:”
Can not” or “Not Possible”. But in my opinion they just mean that something is too
difficult or too hard to arrange or they are just not willing to do something. But this
restaurant was really a must. We got four different dishes and rice. The women got
Jasmine tea, while I got spoiled with a huge bottle of cold beer.
After the delicious food, we went with a kind of tuktuk moped to a place, where in the
evening a wonderful light and sound show will be held in the river between the
mountains. There are not less than 600 performers and the show is directed by no one
else than Zhang Yimou. Probably you never heard of his name, but he is the one who
directed the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and also directed many Chinese
movies. We sat down on a huge gallery with good views over the water. We waited till it
was completely dark. Suddenly the lights went off and we heard wonderful music from
the speakers, while slowly the mountains were illuminated in all kinds of colors. The
performers were dressed in traditional ethnical clothes and sang about a sad love story.
While floodlights and smoke made the fantasy story complete. It was a really wonderful
performance of about one hour. Luckily the weather gods are with us. The whole
evening it was almost dry.
After the show we went back to our hotel. We walked on the main street where many
bars had live performance and music. It really looks nice to join. But we all were too
tired, because of our short night. We just went to bed and fell asleep directly. Sadly we
only stayed here only one night. I have to come back someday to enjoy nightlife here. At
least our first day was a day not to forget.