Trip Start Sep 21, 2007
494Trip End Apr 10, 2009
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It has been a long, long time since my last entry. A lot has happened since that fateful day in early September. But at the same time, not much happened. A paradox? Well, let's just say that the robbery and loosing so much (personal) stuff has hit me harder than I expected. It felt like I have travelled parts of this trip for nothing: I lost my diary of the first 2,5 months and all of Japan. On top of that I lost all my pictures of Japan. But in terms of having done or seen things then I would have to say that not much has happened since.
In Manila I couldn't do much, because I didn't have much (access to) money, and I didn't go anywhere outside Manila because I didn't have money, the right mood or a camera. Luckily the owner of Friendly's Guesthouse, Benjie, did not mind at all that I would pay the room and the internet bill the moment I got a new ATM card and/or credit card sent from the Netherlands. Thanks again Benjie! This way I could still eat reasonably well and have a few beers every now and then with quite a few new friends I made at Friendly's. And three nights in a row, those few beers were actually quite a few more than a few, added with shots of very cheap rum (1 euro for a big bottle), gin and tequila - you can guess what happened... I don't know too much about it anymore...
But I also did some necessary things in Manila. First of all the necessary things one has to do after being robbed. Since I only got a three week entry in the Philippines, I needed to leave the country pretty soon. My booked and confirmed onward flight to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia was cancelled due to the fact that I had cancelled my credit card(s). Because I was not in the travelling mood anyway at that time, I decided to go back to China and to Peony - which was eventually my plan anyway. That meant I had to arrange a visa for China. I had a look in the Chinese Embassy one late morning and decided it was way too busy and that I would come back the next working day. I got up early and while I arrived at the Chinese Embassy at about 7 o'clock in the morning, there was already a queue of about 50 people! I lined up and we were let in the building at 8 o'clock - and got our number. At 9 o'clock the counters opened and I praised myself for bringing a book. At 11h30 it was finally my turn! I heard that I needed more documents (amongst them a letter of invitation from Peony). So that same day I booked a flight to Macau from Manila (Clark Airport) with Tiger Airways for about 35 euro (all inclusive) and wrote a letter of invitation together with Peony. The next day I was at the Chinese Embassy at 6 o'clock in the morning, meaning that I had my turn already at about 9h30! To shorten this part of the story - a few days later I got my visa!
On the 20th of September I took a bus to Clark Airport (about two hours north of Manila) and flew from there to Macau in a little less than two hours. About an hour later I was on a ferry on my way to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong I checked in into a room in a guesthouse in the infamous Chungking Mansions and went shopping that same evening, basically just to check out prices for, yes, a new digital camera and a new laptop. The next day I went to the Mong Kok area of Kowloon and here I bought both new items. The laptop is very similar to the last one, only a newer (and faster) model. The digital camera is a newer model of the old one as well. This is my fourth digital camera this trip, I hope it will be the last! I bought some accessories as well (SD cards, USB stick, etc.). A (good) excuse for this excessive shopping is that on this very day I also happened to be away from home exactly one year! All this shopping meant that I could go to China and Peony the day after.
The next day I took a train to the border, and got through customs without any trouble. I already agreed with Peony to arrive in Guangzhou with a certain train, so I waited about two hours to take that train. It was a high speed train (a little over 200 km/h sometimes) and I arrived an hour and ten minutes later. Peony already waited for me there and it was very good to see her again! We took a taxi to the neighbourhood where she lived, and settled in into a nearby hotel that she'd already arranged. We then went to the place where she'd lived up to then and took her stuff over to our room in the hotel. The whole month in Guangzhou I didn't do much at all, except reading, using the laptop (high speed internet LAN in the room) and relaxing. Peony worked during the day.
Only the last few days did I get active again. A few days ago we took the bus to Kaiping and from there a local bus in the direction of Zili. We were dropped by bus a few kilometers before Zili and we decided to walk to Zili. It was a great walk and it turned out to be about 6 kilometers. Peony isn't really used to walking these distances, but she made it anyway. What this area is famous for, are diaolou. Diaolou are fortified houses or mansions, to protect people from roaming bandits and were built a little less than a century ago. These buildings were mostly financed by well-to-do (returned) Chinese immigrants and are influenced by Western architectural styles, which make them very interesting . There were originally about 3000 diaolou, but now there are about 1800 left. Some of them are on the World Heritage List.
Yesterday I had my first real good look at Guangzhou itself, and although I don't like this big and air polluted city, I was quite surprised by some sights.
Tomorrow I will take the bus to Zhuhai, hope across the border to Macau and return to the Philippines (with another 35 euro flight), to give it a second try. I hope I am not pushing fate and that I will have a much better time this time!
So my next entry is very likely to come from the Philippines!
Everybody take care!