Monday, 26 June 2017

From Guangzhou to Hong Kong by train

I have always wanted to make the short journey from China into HK by land, and here in the year and month of the lord June 2017, was at last my opportunity. 

On the surface the process is easy enough, embark on the train, complete the hour plus trip, disembark, but the problem is that this is an international journey. The status of HK gives it a degree of autonomy, and border control is one of the features. 

I arrived at the Guangzhou East Railway Station midday, and with a bit of back and forth found the departure point for Kowlon (the mainland part of HK). It is upstairs from the main station. This station also departs for Shenzhen, which is an internal mainland destination, far less hassle. Signage is mostly Chinese, but there is sufficient English to get around. Just follow the signs. Buying the ticket (186 yuan ~us$30) was the simple part, no need even for ID!, however, things got more complicated after this.

Without going into great detail, expect to be scanned, you and your bags three times between entering the train station and departing. All great fun, and slow and slow. Lots of people waiting in line. Bring a book to read. I chose a quiet time, I dread to think what peak our must be like. 

Schedule an hour plus, to be safe two hours, for the process of getting from the station entrance onto your train seat, and not the most pleasant time your will ever spend in transit.

The train itself is fine, wide seats, and left on time (well, 3 minutes late). Drinks and food is served on the train, but close to zero English. Two hours in total, fast 130kph on the China section of the trip and then ~60kph in the HK section. On the train you will receive a HK immigration card, with the usual information requests. The train stops at the Hung Hom subway station, in central Kowloon. From here it is easy to get to anywhere else.

Having just said that, I did find that there is a half kilometre hike between the subway line exchange (Tsim Sha Tsui) and my stop, however, with some trepidation I completed the journey to my subway stop (Yau Ma Tei). From there things got a little complicated. 

I booked a bunk at the YESINN hostel, but the directions on the hostel web were a tad confusing (at least to me), at first I walked in the wrong direction, however, after standing at a corner for 5 minutes slowly matching street signs with maps I turned around and found my way to my hostel. 

Now, to explore HK!

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