Thursday, April 11, 2013

The time we almost made it to China

Like lots of people, we decided to leave everything behind and go travelling, explore the world. Most of our moving/travelling ideas come from not too sober nights out when we ended up saying -we should go there- so while in Asti at Le Sagre (amazing wine and food festival, from the town where I was born) we though that going to New Zealand would have been a good idea. Although just flying there would have been TOO EASY so that's how we ended up at Milano Malpensa Airport on a flight  to Hong Kong.

That was the longest flight we took, only 14 hours with one stop over in our beloved Istanbul. Thanks to Turkish Airlines the time literally flew by , in fairness you can't argue with three amazing meals, nice wine, free wi-fi and good movies. So at 15 local time we landed, made sure that everyone knew of our achievement via social network, and we then took the train! Once we got to East Tsim Sha Tsui we took about half an hour to get out, felt like two Heidis, the girl from the Alps. At the end our couchsurfer Henrik, came to rescue us. We spent the next two days wandering around Temple Street and Shanghai street eating food and visiting markets and temples and here is what we found.

As you can see food safety regulations are a bit different in China. After one full day we decided we had seen it all so we moved to Macao. Two stamps on the passport and a boat later we were in the Las Vegas of China where Clark, our local couchsrufer, was waiting for us at the ferry terminal, with a sing. Clark is such a great guy and he works in one of the Casinos, so we couldn't have asked for more. He made sure we knew that the Casino shuttle buses are free, and you get free refreshments and cakes, and as you walk around the city center you can enter all the local delicacy shops and a free samples of various dry meat, but also cookies, free breakfast. I know, sounds cheap but isn't that what backpacking is all about?

Anyway we had a traditional Cantonese dinner at Golden Court restaurant. We were fairly not appropriately dressed for the kind of place it was, but sure we generally don't tend to fit in, even when we try, but surprisingly enough none cares in Macao, no dress code, at least not in the few casinos we had been into. Now you are probably wondering why in earth we decided to dine in such a place? Obviously Clark had some coupons for the dinner and he was so kind to share it with us. After dinner we hit the bar, and had a drink and came up with our first business idea, can't share that just yet though. Clark was also so kind to show us how men pick up prostitutes in the old Lisboa Casino, interesting experience I must say. Beside all the casinos, Macao is a great place, where you can feel like you are in Las Vegas, Portugal and China at the same time. And I can't stress enough, lots of free stuff.

And now the  funny story, because there is always one, we went back to Henrik's, took our backpacks and took a train to Shenzhen where another couchsurfer was waiting for us. So excited about going to the 'real China' we got to the border and got sent to a dodgy office and told that we needed a visa, now mine was only 140 HKD but Magda was 600 HKD, so we freaked out for a second and then deiced that it wasn't worth the money and got escorted back to the train by three different police officers and our backpack were scanned a couple of times. Now you are probably thinking, how stupid can you be not to check if you need a visa before travelling to a country? Indeed, we both did our travelling research before and apparently on the official website of both our Embassies, it was clear that both Italian and Polish citizens coming from Macao or Hong Kong are allowed to enter Shenzhen for 72 hours, free of charge. But that wasn't the case and, this is how we got this fantastic stamps, cool eh?

Well end of the story, we went back to Hong Kong and stayed at the Kung Fu Hostel, because it was the most convenient 80 HKD ppn. In all fairness, we are very easygoing when it comes to accommodation but it was the worst hostel we have ever been to, we even know of people who run out of there and checked-in in some fancy hotel. But we like it dodgey, indeed you can't beat giant cockroaches, rats, cats, exploited workers, not too secret drug parties and a wonderful smell of pee all under one roof. But the rooms were clean and the weird and awkward french guy trying to learn Kung Fu made it livable and rather funny. So we spent the following two days loosing ourselves around Shanghai street and we went to see the Big Buddah. Last night, after a lovely dinner in Ah Sin Vegetarian chinese restaurant on Chatham Road South. We went Bricka Bricka style (for those who don't know, just watch the youtube video) 'sleep on floor to save money on rent' so we slept at the airport. After a good twenty minutes search, we found a good spot, if wasn't for the girls from the bus company, that were chatting like there was no tomorrow, really there is no consideration for tired homeless travelers. 

8 AM sharp and we were on a Air Asia flight to Bangkok, Thailand Baby!