Shenzhen by night
Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
632Trip End Dec 31, 2011
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At least, that's has I normally view it. I work out how long it will take me to get from the airport to the border with Hong Kong, or how many minutes from Luohu railway station on the China side out to Shenzhen's airport, located some distance from the sprawl of high-rise buildings and motorways.
It didn't help that my flight was late. Or that it took a while for the backage to finally arrive. Or that the airport bus to the city was slow to fill up and depart. Even though traffic was relatively light late on the Thursday night, I didn't arrive in the city til close to midnight. By then it was too late to take the normal route across the border - it closed at 12 midnight.
Instead I took a taxi, which sped along roads, short highways and flyovers, til we slowed in a tunnel where a bus was stalled. Half of China seemed to be racing towards the 24- hour border with Hong Kong.
Perhaps those border control folk should learn from the sheep farmers of New Zealand or Australia. Then they might design a better way of herding the hordes of residents, locals, visitors and other aliens to get to the proper lanes and queues. Why is it that at border controls and airports, there are always lots of people in uniforms hanging around doing nothing, and just a handful of people processing the long lines of people?
I spend a lot of time looking at people's shoes, their backage, their strained faces.
After being processed, we wait for the bus. My cellphone is now only good 'for emergency calls only'. I have left China.
We zoom towards Hong Kong, the bus driver with latent rally-driving dreams. At 1.45am, we get off the bus, collect our bags.
We've made it. I take a mental note of the time it has taken. And remember the sequence before, of missing the airport bus in Lijiang, getting the taxi out to the airport, seeing the sun set and a new crescent moon appear, cutting in front of a man who has rudely cut into our queue, being on a flight alongside Triad-leader lookalikes in dark suits, reading about how China Southern selects its air crew - a beauty pagent televised which gets a field of 3000 down to 60 and includes a 'body check' as well as singing and dancing competitions; the no frills packaging on the moist towelette 'welcome to this scheduled flight'; the hamburger that everyone looks at inside to see what's there - lettuce and SPAM - and hardly anyone eats.
There are some things best left uneaten. There are some places best passed through.