Shenzhen-Guangzhou, December 11th
Asia trip 2018-2019
Early in the morning I check out of the hotel and start my second day at Shenzhen. I do not want to go too far away as I have booked a train seat at 13:45. I purchased the ticket at Trip.com. You get a code that you need to exchange for the real ticket. You can do the exchange at the ticket office and give them the number and show your passport. I did this yesterday when I got to Futian station.
The hotel is one minute away from the Futian Greenway that leads to Shenzhen Central Park. The Greenway has a beautiful scenery. Electric bikes going across and carrying people to their offices and parents and children to school interrupt the otherwise quiet place. There are two roads that cross the Greenway. But, there are underground passes for them that follow the path of the river, so, the cars do not interrupt your walk.
Shenzhen Central Park is big and quiet, attributes that it shares with most things in Shenzhen. The park has several lakes and is full of people exercising, from jogging to practicing Taichi. There are grandparents with their children. Some people are flying kites. Others are dancing in groups with loud exercise music as background. But, there is so much space that you can be alone by yourself just by walking away from the crowds. It is wonderful to be able to be close to nature in the middle of such a big city.
After the park, I come across a library. I decide to enter. There is a lot of students learning from books and older citizens reading newspapers and magazines. It’s frustrating to see all these books and not be able to read them. But, by now, I’m studying Swedish. I learned Catalan and Spanish as a kid. And as a teenager I learned English, even that I have improved it substantially the past few years. Swedish is the first language that I try to learn as a full grown adult. For future consideration, Chinese seems an interesting language to learn. Then I may come back and be able to get hold of some books here.
There is still plenty of time, but I decide to go to the Futian station. I will spend the next hour going around the underground. Futian links most of the metro lines with the high-speed trains. It’s the opposite experience that visiting Central Park. Here everything is artificial. You can’t see the light of the sun but the carefully crafted controlled environment of shops and corridors. The restaurants are preparing for the lunch peak time. And young professionals from the close by office buildings start to flow thru the subterranean corridors as water.
I enter the train waiting zone. It is way faster than Hong Kong, as there is no immigration process needed. But time tables are just in Chinese. To pass the first tickets zone I have to cross thru the Priority line. For the normal lines, you need a valid Chinese Id. That I do not have. In the Priority Line, I just need to show my ticket and passport, it takes ten seconds to cross.
A big screen shows the timetable for all the trains of the day. It only shows six at a time, the rest of the screen is covered in advertisements. It takes a while until I can see my train G6534 to Guangzhou South station. Once in the waiting zone, the gates open 10 minutes before the train departure. It is not possible to see the trains as they depart as the platforms are a level below the waiting zone.
I tried the credit card in some stores, there is always shopping in Chinese main train stations, and it was not accepted, I try again in the store in the waiting area to no avail. But, it is not for lack of modern payment systems. From UnionPay credit card to QR codes, the payment possibilities are many. I need to look for an ATM when I get to Guangzhou. I have been using the money that I exchanged before departing from Stockholm and there is not much left.
I booked a ticket for first class. A small waste of money, it was not so much expensive than a normal one. I get fancy snacks and a better seat. The seat doesn’t make a big difference for such a short trip, the snacks are tasty. Once in Guangzhou South, to get to my hotel I need to take the Blue line and ride 11 stations. I get to Haizhu Square without a problem.
I arrived yesterday and already got a good impression of Guangzhou. The area where I stay is quite different from Shenzhen. Guangzhou is a city made at a more human scale. Just by walking around, you get to pass all kind of shops, restaurants, and business. There are some tall buildings, but most are medium size and close to each other creating narrow streets. The city has an older more compact design than Shenzhen.
As I enter a pedestrian street, I find it full of life. Some sellers approach me offering purses and watches. They are polite and go away when I told them that I am not interested. I’m just bringing one bag on this trip, and I need to be careful of how many things I buy. But this short walk is all I will do today, I look for my hotel to end the day.