Sitting on the train – a guided tour in China – you need a bit of luck sometimes

We are sitting on a train in Shenzhen, China.

Metro rides in Shenzhen and Hong Kong are great, much more reliable and frequent than in Australia – and almost as punctual as in Switzerland. A large network too, with a train arriving every 5-6 minutes on your selected line.

Each line is colour coded with screens and signs on the platform telling you how where you will be going and how long you have to wait for the next train. Inside the train there are more screens with lights and a locomotive cartoon telling you exactly where you are and what the next stop is.

It’s time renew our visa.

The way this works in Shenzhen is by taking the metro to the border with Hong Kong, leave China, walk across the river into Hong Kong, take the train for one stop towards Hong Kong, exit and take another train back to the Chinese border. There you go through immigration again.

Shenzhen is a so called special economic zone, and you can get 5 day visas over the counter at certain checkpoints. Apparently after two 5 day trips you receive a 30 day visa. This still has to be experienced. Our next visa renewal trip should hopefully give us that.

First however, we have to get this one done.

Imagine leaving all your luggage behind, going out the country with just your passport, a train pass, some cash, a debit card that works on some ATMs, and a credit card.

This is a bit unsettling – it’s quite a long way from our home in the forest in Australia.

All we have to go with, are a couple of maps for the Shenzhen and Hong Kong metro systems with (Chinese and English spelling), some notes and our memory from our arrival 5 days ago.

There is a complication too – it’s Sunday. People say it’s not a good day to do such a trip, because many, many people are going to Hong Kong.

That means a lot of people. We are talking China here.

This can help you in such situations:

  • First bring your attention to your breath
  • Relax and visualise a good and easy trip
  • Calmness and a soft, yet alert focus can then guide you through the day

The train ride goes all right. While it’s busy with families and people visiting families, we easily find a seat.

The border however, is another story.

A huge crowd is waiting for passport control. Are all these people really going through customs just for a day visit?

I am wondering how to go about this.

Malcolm starts walking past it. I follow him.

Not sure why we’re going or where, we just do.

Somewhere we get ushered around a corner and walk through a narrow fenced off path past more people.

I have seen queues – but never anything like this. It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if we would have been stuck in it.

I guess we were really lucky there.

Going through customs, the Hong Kong leg and the immigration is straight forward. Administrative processes are very similar all over the world. All you can do is follow the rules and patiently wait until it’s your turn.

The Chinese value efficiency. We are lucky again.

Now, I wonder how you fare when you have to do something you have never done before.

How does luck help you?