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12 March, Shenzhen to Chaozhou
Home Inn 168CNY

Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province, lies just north of Kowloon (Hong Kong). It was the first area to be declared a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in 1979, and has proved one of the most successful. As a result of China’s “reform and opening” policy, Shenzhen transformed in just a few decades from a sleepy village into a city of over 15 million. It is home to a stock exchange and is one of the world’s busiest container ports. Not far from our hotel we managed to find a functional ATM and felt considerably more relaxed having refunded the hotel our borrowed taxi fare and paid for our accommodation. At 14h40 we boarded a bus for Chaozhou, five hours east of Shenzhen. Our Lonely Planet guidebook is proving invaluable as it includes the Chinese names of cities and hotels in Chinese characters, which can be shown to and understood by bus ticket sellers and taxi drivers. (I had booked last night’s hotel online – it was not one mentioned by Lonely Planet.) It was dark by the time we arrived in Chaozhou, making the fireworks with which we were welcomed stark against the blacking sky. It took us some time to find accommodation in the old city, but when we did it proved to be in the midst of all things good. Directly outside the hotel entrance a makeshift theatre had been set up and a performance was in full swing. Just 20 metres away was the pedestrian street Paifang Jie, the Street of Memorial Arches. It was clear we had arrived on a festival night (we subsequently found out it was the Festival of Lanterns): families roaming the streets with happy faces; vendors preparing and selling candyfloss and waffles and sugar art; fire-crackers crackling in narrow alleys, leaving behind mounds of red paper; people paying their respects at brightly lit and colourful temples. A lovely evening for strolling and dining; a lovely evening on which the locals and the many Chinese tourists were very aware of our presence (we saw only two other foreigners in town), greeting us and taking photos of us.

Shenzhen
Shenzhen
Shenzhen bus station
Shenzhen bus station
Shenzhen bus station
Shenzhen bus station
Chaozhou festival theatre
Chaozhou festival theatre
Chaozhou festival theatre
Chaozhou festival theatre
Chaozhou festival theatre
Chaozhou festival theatre
Chaozhou festival temple
Chaozhou festival temple
Hong Kong style dessert
Hong Kong style dessert
Chaozhou festival theatre
Chaozhou festival theatre
Home Inn
Home Inn
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