We traveled to Hong Kong (香港) on China Railway train Z99, the 18-hour direct overnight train from Shanghai. Accommodations were tight. Compartments were 6-berth, there were 7 compartments to a train car, only squat toilets on-board, and a suffocating amount of cigarette smoke. To make matters worse, we were assigned to the top bunks ! We thought that we had successfully maneuvered an upgrade to the middle row, until another couple came to claim their space 5 hours into the trip. We resigned ourselves to our fate: perilous climbs up and down the bunk beds on a shaky train in the dark.
But we managed to sleep comfortably, and lights came on the next morning around 6:30am, as we found our train crossing from Hunan province into Guangdong province. Our GPS tracker surprised us by displaying a route due West from Shanghai, then South through Hunan - we had expected a more coastal route (see donde estamos section). But the mountains along the coast probably make the coastal route more difficult. The scenery was quite nice as the train followed river valleys, abutted by rice fields and karst limestone peaks famous in Southern China.
We made our way through immigration and customs at Hung Hom station, then took a short taxi ride to our Airbnb in the Jade district. We spent the afternoon exploring around Kowloon, trying various street foods, teas, and beers. We visited the nearby Temple St night market, and had dinner at the Cantonese restaurant Xin Dau Ji, before retiring to sleep in more comfortable environs than the night before.
Unfortunately, sleep would not be any better this night. Joshua woke up at 04:00am with food poisoning, which meant that the next 2 days would be spent nursing him back to health. We extended our stay in Hong Kong by 2 nights, and moved to the Butterfly on Morrison hotel on Hong Kong Island. Once recovered, we visited the Google office at Times Square, and rode the tram to the viewing station at the top of Victoria Peak, which offered fabulous views of the classic Hong Kong skyline at night.
The early mishap meant we were anxious to keep traveling by the time we crossed the border again at Hung Hom station, this time en route to Guangzhou East Railway station in the Pearl River city of Guangzhou (廣州). A 45 minute subway ride took us to Guangzhou South Railway station, where we boarded our first bullet train in China, bound for Nanning (南宁. We spent a quiet night in Nanning, where the next day a bus would take us into Vietnam and Southeast Asia !