Across Continents

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Hong Kong and the Holy Grail

HK entry - web

It’d taken quite a while to sink in. We’d done it. Made it to Hong Kong. In time for Christmas. Just. The end of Asia. Second continent complete. Others more elated at first than Emma, my trusty steed, and I. We were just plain relieved to be over the border and safely into the former British colony. Remembering, just in time, that they drive on the left…

It’d been a long day with quite a few hurdles in the offing. A typical Christmas Eve perhaps. A final sprint into the heart of Shenzhen, a city of around fourteen million, in search of the railway station. Even with a decent street map I’d chanced upon, they’d been a few twists and U-turns. And some particularly unforgiving traffic.

Strictly speaking you cannot take a bicycle across the border. Not a fully laden tourer. Not if everyone sticks to the rules. Which had been causing me some angst. Found myself fretting unduly. Searching for the Holy Grail – the definitive, hassle free means of getting into Hong Kong. A guarantee of success. Problem is, it doesn’t exist.

I’d woken up to this a few days earlier. Realised my mistake. Recognised the best plan was simply to bluff and cuff my way across. Armed with some hints and tips from other cyclists who’d done it. Bit grumpy with myself. Should, by now, have known better. Succumbed to the search for unobtainable certainty because I was so determined not to get caught out on the last day. Did not want to fail to make Hong Kong for Christmas.

And the irony? It couldn’t really have been much easier. Bit of hassle forcing Emma into the packed lift to reach Immigration. But "Last Day Rules" were in force. And she’s a tough northern lass. I’d been flummoxed for a moment by an escalator, but Matt, a keen English cyclist who’d been living out in Hong Kong for a couple of decades, came to my aid. Up we went. To the bemusement of onlookers.

There was the inevitable x-ray scanner. I hesitated. Removing all the bags and passing them through was entirely possible. But there was just one machine. And lots of people. It’d be chaotic. I offered to have my luggage hand searched and was on my way in errr… a very short space of time.

One hurdle left. Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Rail – the only means of exiting from the Lo Wu crossing point into the colony. Folding bicycles only. Stories of other cyclists being reluctantly allowed onboard, having first removed their front wheel. Matt had warned me to expect some hassle, but all would be ok if I stood my ground. And was unfailingly polite. Besides, they’d have to give way eventually. My Chinese visa had been cancelled as I’d come over the border, so I’d no option but to go forwards. Eventually.

MTR - web

And refused we were at the ticket barrier. For a moment. Then a female voice. Clear. Confident. "Follow me" she said. I thought possibly the station supervisor. "Through there to the train. Carriage twelve". I thanked her profusely, wished her Merry Christmas and we were quickly on our way. A few minutes later tucked discreetly away in the rear carriage. One stop to Sheing Shui and disembarkation.

The journey to our final destination, Tuen Mun on the western side of Hong Kong, should have taken an hour or two. Around fifteen miles. We’d even a decent road map for most of it. But a bit of well-intentioned mis-direction and failing light meant it took quite a bit longer. Not that it seemed to matter. Docile traffic. Even street lights. A warm evening. But, most of all, we’d crossed the border. Reached Hong Kong.

[A particularly big thank you to Iris, Phil, Peter and Matt for their advice and assistance in getting safely across the Hong Kong border]

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One response to “Hong Kong and the Holy Grail”

  1. Well done on crossing the biggest continent of all! crossing the border is quite a unique christmas present and well deserved. Hope you enjoy a well deserved seasonal break.

    claudia, Perry and James

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