Saturday, April 4th.

It had been raining in Canton but by the time the train got to Shenzhen, it had cleared. The border was reasonably easy although the complete absence of any order or rational scheme made finding our way through a bit trying. Back in Kowloon after a 40-minute ride on the KCR, we walked around to Chungking Mansions and got a room in the same hostel where we had stayed before we went to China.

I rang [my cousin] Mark and he invited us to stay in his apartment even though he was off to Thailand for the week. The first decent meal for 2 days was at McDonald’s then we return to the hostel to watch the Hong Kong rugby sevens tournament on TV. The weather for it was abysmal, with torrential rain turning the pitches into a quagmire.

Some impromptu entertainment was provided at night when a fat bloke in the Hyatt Hotel across the street gave his Chinese wife a damn good rogering with the curtains open!

Friday, April 3rd.

Our train wasn’t due to leave until 6 p.m. so we didn’t check out of our room until 11:50 then we sat in the hotel coffee shop for most of the afternoon.

At 5 p.m. we caught a bus down to the railway station and boarded the train. Our seats were grouped with three young girls leaving home for the first time, and there were pitiful scenes as they said goodbye to their families before the train pulled out.

In the light of evening, the train speed through a tranquil landscape of rice paddies, hills and small mirror-calm lakes, the sun a limpid drop of fire in the west. As night passed, we dozed a bit, read and listened to our walkmans. We pulled into Guangzhou at 6:30 and as the train was carrying on to Shenzhen [pronounced “shen-jen” this is the border crossing between the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong] we stayed on it for the leg down to the border hoping to get cheaper tickets then we would have if we had good off and bought onward tickets from C.I.T.S. [the China International Travel Service].

The Great Helmsman (Chairman Mao) changing a light bulb.