Before starting, I need to tell you the story behind this trip. In June, I received an email from Dongfei, an ex-colleague of mine from the University of Hull. He told me: do you want to go to China for free? Guess what was my answer! 😀 I had to apply for the First International Youth Conference, held in Shenzhen mid-August. They accepted my application in July, when I was in the USA. It took me a bit by surprise, and I had to book and plan everything while in Houston. But I made it! 😀
So, this morning, I took the train to Paris. Then I waited 3 or 4 hours in the airport, and I decided to create a travel blog... 😉 I flew to London, where I am now. I have another 5 hours to wait before flying to Hong Kong, so I thought about keeping on writing! :D I will get to HK tomorrow evening. The organisers will pick me up to the airport, and take me to... the Ritz-Carlton in Shenzhen! :O Not bad!
I made it to Hong Kong yesterday afternoon! And my friend Peter met me at the airport! 😀 We met last year in Hull. I was so glad to see him again, even for a short time.
After that, I met some volunteers from the conference who drove me and two other guests to Shenzhen, mainland China...
... More precisely to the Ritz-Carlton hotel! What a fancy place! I was welcomed in my room with a bouquet and a letter of invitation. I met Dongfei at the dinner and also had the opportunity to chat with many other participants.
I finished my day with a bath, and had a good night of sleep from 10pm to 7am. Jet lag? No! Ready to enjoy/explore/network! :D
I will start with a funny story which happened to me this morning while having breakfast. I told my roommate and friend Cecilia that I saw some baguettes and croissants. And 5 minutes later, a man came to talk to me: vous êtes Française ? So we start speaking in French, he was talking to me using "vous" and I was using "tu", as he offered to give me names for nice places to have a drink. I thought he was a participant at the conference or maybe another guest of the hotel. But, at some point, I noticed the "restaurant manager" badge on his shirt. Oops!
Well, I wrote that yesterday but forgot to continue writing. Didn't quite have time actually lol. So, busy day with the conference. You can find me in the first row, completely on the right of the picture! 😀
My group is the VIP group, so basically photographers and cameramen follow us everywhere. Also, we went to two nice restaurants for lunch and dinner. Great atmosphere, some really nice people.
Oh lala ! I am late in writing!!! These last days time has been flying! So, what happened during the conference? So many things to tell, I don't even know where to start! Maybe I should just say that it was amazing, very well organiaed, that I met some awesome people, that the volunteers were perfect, the food was delicious, the Ritz-Carlton was amazing lol.
On the second day of the conference, we went to visit a few places. We started by the Lianhua mountain park, where we discovered a great view of the city. The wife of Xiaoping's best friend was also with us to explain us about the history being Xiaoping's statue! #VIP
Then, we went to visit SUSTech: South University of Science and Technology of China. The presentation given was very interesting, but the buildings were not very appealing... 😉 Finally, we went back on the bus to head to the Wong Siming memorial hall. But there was a (big) problem with the bus! The AC was not working, but the heating seemed to be, so we were in a sauna bus for about half an hour! I'd never sweated that much in my entire life!!! :O We are now laughing about it, but it was not the best experience! 😉
On the third day, we went to visit some big companies. We started by a beautiful building, at BGI Genomics, where we also had lunch with a view! Weiqi and I were the only ones to have lunch outside... French way! 😉
Then we visited the China Yong Feng Yuan factory and shop, a very famous porcelain entreprise. They actually produce the Starbucks mugs for New York, London and Paris! They gave a NYC mug to each of us. I left it in Shenzhen though, with a view to lighten by backpack as I still have 2 or 3 weeks of globetrotting... I found a cool bike there lol.
We finished the day by visiting Tencent, the creators of WeChat and QQ (some famous social networks in China, where Facebook/Messenger is censored). On the picture below, I stand with Emily and Dona, respectively from the States and Bulgaria. We were the only three international women in the participants!
I probably spent the evening in the swimming pool of the hotel with some friends... As well as the night before... Hmmm, where are my pictures? The view was awesome! 😀
On the fourth (and last) day of the conference, I was wearing a dress and at least 20 people told me I was beautiful! Maybe even more lol! Men and women! So I will start to believe it! :D Also, the journalists seemed to like me as well, as my portrait finished in a few Chinese papers... :O
During lunch time, some of us went to Coco City! A huge mall.
The conference ended by a closing ceremony with some shows, and loads of pictures taken on the stage.
In the evening, we went to another restaurant; this time with wine! 😉 The view was not bad as well! The organisers gave to each of us a huge box of Chinese tea, but I had the same problem than with the previous gift(s)... I will let you know in the next step what I did with all this stuff! :P
Once again, we finished the evening enjoying the pool and the jacuzzi... And then we headed to Ruslan's room, where we enjoyed some Bulgarian whisky with Dona, Nikolay and Valentin! :D
I was supposed to go directly to Hong Kong after Shenzhen, but Dona, Helmut and Trevor offered me to join them for a stop in Macau before... Why not?! We enjoyed our last swimming pool session in the morning before leaving the hotel. Jack didn't want us to leave! 😉 I don't remember if I talked about Jack before! :O The swimming pool boy! Singing "California hotel" haha. A really nice guy, he even gave us some food for our ferry trip to Macau! I promised to tell you what I did why my gifts... Well, I gave the bag to Jack! He seemed to be very happy! ^^
We booked a suite for two people in a hotel, and so we played it like James Bond... 😉 "Don't look at me, look straight. Take the lift to the 6th floor, then change and take another one to the 17th. I'll meet you there." We didn't get caught! We spent the evening in Macau, having a look around the hotels and casinos.
But the best was probably our Portuguese dinner: we met José, such a great person! We enjoyed Vino Verde and Porto at his restaurant, the OuMoun café.
The view from the fortress was nice as well! 😀
Quote of the day: "You are very lucky. You just don't know it yet." - José.
The Dream Team (i.e., the four of us haha) took the ferry to Hong Kong, where we discovered a crowded city. We met Valentin and Nikolai there and had lunch together (hmm at 5pm 😉). After that, we separated (for a short time) because I registered for a meditation retreat next to my hostel!
I said "only for a short time" because I met the group later in the evening and we headed to Soho, the party district, for a few hours. It was my last time with them, so we exchanged hugs and goodbyes at the subway station. These times are always so sad!!! 😥 I don't really have pictures of this day, I know that Dona and Trevor took a few but they haven't uploaded them on Facebook yet! 😉
On my second day in HK, I went back to the meditation retreat. I was supposed to stay there the whole day, but gave up after three hours because it was freezing in the room - even with a jumper and a scarf. Therefore, I decided to meet Helmut before he flies back to Austria. We walked around Central and took the Star Ferry, one of the "must-see". Great view on the skyline by night! 😀
Quote of the day: "Smile brings you good luck".
On my third day, something terrible happened to me (lol): I fell asleep during the meditation!!! :O On my chair! It never happened to me before! I guess I was exhausted with jet lag and travelling and non-stopping. So I gave up the meditation before the end - again, shame on me! In the afternoon, I went to explore the city. I started in Old Town Central, on Hollywood road with its antique shops and the Man Mo temple (my first real temple!).
I then took the (crowded) tramway to Victoria Peak, where you can have the best view of the city. I was quite lucky with the weather up there!
I am currently writing from Hong Kong airport! Takeoff in 1h30. Right on time to finish my "carnet de voyage"! 😀
Yesterday, I went to Lamma island, one of the islands around Hong Kong. To get there, I took a local minibus - I was the only foreigner, I had a hard time finding my stop 😉 but made it! And then I took a local boat. I didn't want to do the "tourist way", i.e., subway and ferry! :P I really enjoyed the journey on the boat because I could enjoy the view from the outside deck! 😀
I was pretty hungry when landing, so I stopped by the harbour for a restaurant. I had a really nice lunch: some Angela hair pasta with smoked salmon and cream, and quite a nice view as well! 😉
After that, I was reading for a hike! I discovered a nice village, with some local shops and cafés. I walked in the jungle (and screamed when I saw a GIANT spider!).
I finally found the Hung Shing Ye beach, and couldn't resist to have a bath... 😉 But it felt like swimming in a bin!!! So disgusting. I had three showers after that. (I didn't get sick so far, fingers crossed lol!)
"I don't take my life seriously, but I do take what I do in my life seriously." - Audrey Hepburn
I ended the day spending a couple of hours in the Causeway Bay with Jerry, a local Couchsurfer, who contacted me a few weeks ago. We had some delicious street food and looked for all the French brands in "Little Japan"! ^^
Last but not least... I went to Lantau Island! I first did something awesome, which I've never seen in any other city, i.e., I checked in my backpack in town instead of at the airport! :O So I enjoyed my day without worrying and without having to carry all my stuff! 😀 I took the cable car to go to Ngong Ping. The view was impressive. I was very lucky as well because the weather was pretty awesome.
Once I reached the village, I discovered a very quiet place with a really nice energy. I spent about three hours there, wandering around, climbing all the steps to Tian Tian Buddha (also known as the Big Buddha), and having a look at the Po Lin monastery. The statue of Buddha Shakyamuni symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith.
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