Guangdong Province

Guangdong is the first province that you enter from Hong Kong whether you come in by train, bus or ferry. The other alternative is enter via the island of Macau.  We had chosen to fly to Hong Kong as our starting point.

Schedule

  1. Arriving in Hong Kong
  2. Gaoming to Duanzhou
  3. Duanzhou to Deqing
  4. Deqing to Changzou (Wuzhou)
  5. Changzou (Wuzhou)


Our ride descriptions give an account of the ride that we completed. As part of the description we also provide links to google maps and elevation profiles based on mapping data available through the internet. The ride profiles are smoothed to give what in our opinion is a more beneficial view of the profile. We use paper maps, GPS and on line data to plan and conduct our rides. We are happy for you to use our descriptions, but be aware that we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided as situations surrounding any ride change over time.

Guangdong - Day 1 - Arriving in Hong Kong

The flight from the UK was on time, quiet and calm without screaming kids or incessantly chattering people sitting next to us. We managed to get some sleep and arrived as per schedule. Immigration control presented no problem.

After several times walking around the baggage hall we managed to find our bikes in the porters section, still fully intact. It was easier and cheaper to take them out of their slightly ripped plastic bags, straighten the handlebars and wheel them out of the arrivals hall than paying a porter.

Maids Day Off

Our taxi had been arranged one hour later than our arrival, so we wheeled the bikes to the designated meeting point in the car park and waited for 45 minutes in the warm evening air, which wasn't a hardship. Once loaded up we were driven to meet our Warm showers host, Phil Sam at his apartment in Tue Moen to the west of Kowloon. He was waiting for us on the street and made us very welcome, cooking a lovely pasta dinner swilled down with a couple of bottles of the amber nectar.

The next morning we took the double deck bus into Hong Kong and walked around the main shopping area in the rain. It was Sunday so it was very crowded. Traditionally the Chinese work very hard and only have one day off a week. Most families have a maid, usually Filipino and they all meet up in the town on Sundays, sitting in large groups under the walkways and in the parks eating picnics and chatting.

Afterwards we took the Star Ferry from Hong Kong to Kowloon, walking through the Harbour City mall to the China Ferry Terminal to check out the ferries for the journey into Guangdong, China. We bought tickets for HK$ 220 each (about GBP 18) and learned that we could either check the bikes in, provided they were in bags, at no cost or wheel them onto the boat ourselves at a charge of HK$70. We paid for the privilege of doing it ourselves. At least that way we were in control of them.

Star Ferry to Kowloon

The shopping malls in Kowloon and Hong Kong are like towering temples of consumerism with all the big designer names there, Luis Vuiton, Chanel, Versace, Prada and many others. There were long queues of people outside each of them, waiting to be admitted to the hallowed inner sanctum to worship at the altar of their favourite designer. White gloved doormen limited admittance to heighten the impression of exclusivity. This one had a slightly more comical name.

hong_kong_lukfook_jewelry

The road led us down to the water front and along the Pavement of Stars that celebrates Chinese cinema. Many of the great Chinese actors, (mostly unknown to us) have plaques in the pavement with their hand prints as per Broadway. Everyone in Hong Kong had to have their picture taken with the statue of the great Bruce Lee.


Walking around in a loop we worked our way through the night market, which was basically a small china town market and back to the MTR station to catch the subway back to Phil's place. Phil cooked again and sat and watched "The King's Speech" (brilliant).

By the next morning, the weather hadn't improved so we decided to stay at the apartment to sort out the bikes, plan our route and arrange transport to the ferry terminal the next morning. The latter was much more difficult than we had expected, (see note about transport and bikes below). Few of the taxi van drivers wanted to be up early enough to pick us up at 6-30am. However with the help of Phil's Chinese friend Iris, we managed to sort it out an we retired to bed by 10-00 for an early start the next day.

Hong Kong has over 18,000 taxis and is said to be the best system in the World. For sure it works well and is clearly defined with metered taxis.

  • Red taxis - Urban
  • Blue taxis - Lantau Island
  • Green taxis - New Territories

They are usually happy to put a bike in the boot, necessitating at least front wheel removal, but of course if there is more than one of you that means more taxis.

The MTR is really quick, modern and comfortable. It is easy to use. You can buy an Octopus card that you can charge up, a bit like an Oyster card in London. It can also be used on Ferries and buses. Officially there a few lines that you are allowed to take bikes but it is prohibited on the remainder. Some people do take them on anyway and provided the front wheel is removed and the bike shouldered it seems to be accepted. However we read some very antagonistic comments by people on the Geoexpat web site, so our preference is not to use the MTR.

Bikes are not allowed on buses.

Bikes can be taken on the train into Guangdong, China.

The easiest way although not the cheapest is to use the taxi vans. These are not sanctioned by the HK authorities and accordingly the registered taxi drivers don't like them. However they provide a valuable service which the ordinary taxis don't, i.e. moving bulky or awkward goods and passengers (some of the passengers may be awkward too). Ours cost HK$250 from the airport to Tue Moen and HK$160 into Kowloon from Tue Moen Beware though as they are not registered and mostly not insured.

Bikes can also be taken on the normal steamer type ferries, but not on all of the fast enclosed ferries. Check with the operator.

Some great resources if you want to see more of Hong Kong are:

The China-Hong Kong Travelguide
China Travel - Golden Route
Travel - Hong Kong Attractions

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Guangdong - Day 2 - Gaoming to Duanzhou

  • Distance               68km
  • Max Elevation      105m
Daoming to Duanzhou profile

Guangdong - Gaoming to Duanzhou Ride Profile

Ride Description

Waiting at the end of the lane with our bags and panniers, the taxi arrived at 6-30 on the dot. We loaded up, said a fond farewell to Phil and sped off into Kowloon. The process at the ferry terminal to Guangdong was easy.

Dropped off in the underground car park we wheeled our bikes into the lift and up into the terminal concourse. It is bright, airy and modern with check in desks similar to an airport. We checked in at the Guangdong ferry desk and had time for a coffee at Starbucks - all very civilised. Then it was through the gate and passport control and after a short wait, onto the boat. The bikes were secured on the rear deck, as we all took our seats in the sealed cabin.

We were quickly across the bay of the Pearl River Mouth and heading up the Xi Jiang river into Guangdong, its banks lined with factories, quarries and other heavy industrial operations. It was not a pretty route and with little to see we both dozed to the hum of the engine while listening to our Michael Thomas easy Mandarin tape.

Alighting at the port of Gaoming in Guangdong province, the immigration and customs formalities were as slick as those at Hong Kong. Many passengers had their bags checked through scanner machines, but we were just were just waved through. After a quick assessment of what side of the road to ride on (right), we cycled off to the town centre. Its square tenement blocks, shuttered shops and wide multi lane streets were, as we would find, typical of the modern and soulless part of most Chinese cities. Our first stop was to purchase a China Mobile Sim card for our phone. China Mobil is the biggest Telecom provider in China and is rolling out 3G in most areas. A SIM card was just 45 Yen = GBP5, and seemed to last a long time even when using Google maps etc.

As it was now already lunch time we decide to stop for a traditional Chinese lunch - a McDonald's Burger, Guangdong style - well it would probably be the last chance for some western comfort food.

We negotiated our way out of the town on the main road, direction Duanzhou also known as Zhao Qing (pronounced Tsow Ching). The whole route was very industrial, with lots of horrible chemical smells. Buses and lorries belching thick diesel smoke deafened us with their air horns as they raced past. They stop for no-one or thing. Woe betide you if you get in their way. We were not too impressed with Guangdong so far. We kept going until we reached the Xi Jiang (river) again to catch the small vehicle ferry across the river. It consisted of a floating platform for the passengers and vehicles and was pulled across the fast flowing river by a tug. Halfway across we were on an obvious collision course with a river freighter and it seemed like the same rules apply to shipping as on the roads - who is going to give in first? Eventually the ferry stopped its engines and the ship crossed in front of us. On the other side, the ride along the riverside promenade into the town was sedate compared to the last three hours.

Our room at the Stars Business Hotel, was very comfortable, being more like a suite. It was brand new and cost YEN 260, about GBP27. For dinner, we went to the next door restaurant and had a traditional Guangdong style broth cooked over a heater in the centre of the table. Raw ingredients were brought, beef, something that looked like "lites" and pok choy. It was all tossed into the pot and we ate a tasty and hearty meal with rice.

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Guangdong - Day 3 - Duanzhou to Deqing

  • Distance                     96km
  • Max Elevation            100m
duanzhou_to_deqing_profile

Guangdong - Duanzhou to Deqing Ride Profile

Ride Description

We had the best night's sleep since we had arrived in Hong Kong. Was it the riding, just a need for sleep or are we getting over the jet lag? Either way we slept sound until 8-30.

Just over the road we had breakfast at one of the basic roadside joints. It consisted of steamed rice pancakes with a small amount of minced pork folded in. With a bit of soy and spicy sauce they were remarkably tasty.

Getting out of the busy town was a challenge taking nearly two hours of tortuous cycling in heavy traffic and only assisted by mostly Chinese signage. We were really thankful for our GPS as we passed by the old city walls.

guangdong_zhaoqing_city_wall

Along the way we stopped at the open park area at the side of the lake to watch a very impressive water fountain show in time to Chinese opera music. As it was a national holiday, the whole place had a relaxed atmosphere; a real contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city traffic.

guangdong_zhaoqing_fountains

The road out of town was built up for miles and each section seemed to specialise in something different, just as we had found in Malaysia and Thailand. One section sold all motor bikes, while another sold all ceramic tiles and sanitary ware. Yet another sold everything reconditioned machinery; kilometre after kilometre of second hand fork lift trucks, road making equipment, machine tools with smaller workshops making steel doors, kitchen furniture and a whole host of other recycled goods. This is certainly not a throw away society - not yet anyway.

The road ran along the valley gouged out by the mighty Xi Jiang cutting its way through the heart of Gunagdong and bounded by pine covered hillsides. The road was only slightly less busy, as it continued as a dual carriageway all the way to our destination. At one point the river narrowed as it passed through a wide gorge. A new railway is being constructed right through Guangdong province and an impressive bridge was being built across it.

guangdong_new_rail_bridge

At Lubuzhen we stopped for "lunch". At least that's what it was called. We chose two things off the menu, both of which had the symbol associated with "meat". One turned out to be some sort of "intestines". The other, we think was something like cow heel. It consisted of chunks of gristle and hard cartilage like substance that wasted more calories chewing it than we gained from eating it. Both of us usually scoff at people that say "this food is sh**", but this really was quite awful. Guangdong cuisine was equal only to its indutrial enivironment. We ate most of the former, but hardly touched the latter. The sauce was lovely though and the rice filled us up. (Always look for the positive). The price GBP5!

After lunch the road was quieter with less traffic, but the lorries and buses constantly blare their horns to encourage all lesser mortals to get out of their way as they overtake at great speed. We have decided that there cannot be any equivalent of the highway code in Guangdong. Nobody abides by any traffic rules, overtaking, undertaking, driving straight onto roundabouts, never looking when joining a main road from a side road. We have yet to see a learner driver so can't believe there is a driving test. In one town we passed through this afternoon there had just been an RTA between a heavy lorry and a smaller van which had tried to cut across the road in front of it. Despite an impressive array of debris strewn over a wide area there didn't seem to be any blood and gore.

We passed through several toll booths today. There is a bicycle lane at the side so no toll to pay. At one there was a police checkpoint but they just waved us through, smiling and waving as we passed. At 57kms we arrived in a town called Yuecheng and hoped to stop there but there was no hotel. A young local lad took several photos of us on his mobile, telling Steve he was "handsome" and Karen she was "beautiful". Very short sighted obviously.

There was now another 43km to cover to the next large town and only 2 hours of daylight left. Setting off with surprising energy we motored along at about 22kph for the next hour. Karen was draughting Steve and didn't see a heavy chunk of concrete on the hard shoulder. Her front wheel hit and she was thrown off, luckily towards the ditch. She was fortunate not to have hit one of the concrete posts along the kerbside, but she did come down with a bang on the kerb, grazing her forearm and knee. She though she had cracked a rib, but later it turned out not to be the case otherwise the pain would have been much worse. The bike took a hit too. Its handlebars were twisted round, the bar end had broken off and we couldn't tell if the forks had been bent. It took about 20 mins to make it rideable again. T would take a bit longer for Karen's body and pride to heal. Despite the accident, she was lucky it could have been a lot worse and we both rode on in silence pondering what could have been and if that decision to leave the helmets at home was a bad one.

It was just getting dusk as we rode into Deging and booked into the first hotel we saw, the Guanglin, just on the outskirts of the town. Again a good class of hotel with a fabulous bathroom and two double beds for GBP 26 a night.

We walked into town for something to eat, choosing a popular roadside place with the usual plastic tables and greasy tablecloths. The food was amazing, tasty, good quality and loads of it. Suddenly we love Guangdong food again. The beer was good too and dulled the pain in the legs and the ribs.

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Guangdong - Day 4 - Deqing to Changzou (Wuzhou)

  • Distance                 77km
  • Max Elevation       135km

Guangdong - Deqing to Changzou (Wuzhou) Ride Profile

Ride Description

The room rate included breakfast so it was fun walking round the buffet table lifting up all the lids on the food warmers to suss out what the Chinese eat for breakfast. There was flat noodles with chillies, dim sum, little frankfurter sausages, hard boiled eggs and some cabbage soup as well as a selection of completely tasteless and revolting sweet jelly things.

The route continued along the dual carriageway up the Xi Jiang valley. There was even less traffic and the surroundings were more rural with only occasional factories.

For lunch we turned off the main road into a small town and went into the first cafe. Learning from the mistake of the day before we pointed to the food that the man on the next table was eating and asked for two portions of that. The family who owned the cafe were very interested in us and their daughter spoke a little English. They were all was fascinated by our map of Guangdong with English place names. Our two plates of rice, pork and greens with as much tea as we could drink was GBP 1-20.

The road here runs along the side of the still massive river. It is one of the most important transport routes in Guangdong with large freight boats plying up and down. In the past there were lots of passenger ferries but as more and more bridges are constructed there are only a few left.

Here, we crossed the provincial border from Guangdong into Guangxi.

Coming into Wozhou it was difficult to identify where the town centre was. After a fruitless journey through narrow busy streets following a "hotel" sign to a place that was closed down, we headed over the river. The street was lined with residential blocks but no hotels. We stopped to try to decide where to go next and a local woman spoke to us. She could understand a little English but couldn't explain how to find the hotel so she walked with us, about 1km, to show us where to go.

The Xin Lu Ye Hotel was not quite the standard of those that we had stayed in the last 2 nights but was clean and had a good size room with hot shower for GBP 12. As in many of the hotels in China, the rooms could be booked by the hour. The many chargeable extras available in the room included 2 condoms and a vibrator and before you ask, no we didn't partake. - We were way too tired for any "how's your father".

Near the hotel we explored a traditional Chinese street market where most of the vendors sat on the floor with their goods laid out on sheets. There were vegetables, pork ribs, whole steamed chickens, terrapins, eels, goldfish, honey in the comb and all manner of seeds and dried fruits. One of the women had a bucket of fat live frogs and was cutting them open and removing their innards as they kicked and struggled vigorously. The children looked on, fascinated.

That night we dined in the very popular restaurant next door to the hotel. It was one of those places that has a paper menu with a long list of all the food available and you tick off what you want. Luckily there was also a picture menu so we chose a few dishes and had a very good meal.

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Guangdong - Day 5 - Changzou (Wuzhou)

Ride Description

Now, strictly speaking, Wuzhou is in Guangxi Province not Guangdong, but we left it in this section for the sake of completeness.

It never stopped raining all night and was still pouring when we got up. The weather forecast was for lots more rain so as we had a 100km day planned we decided to stay another night and hope for better weather the next day. Going back into the same restaurant for breakfast caused some consternation among the staff. One young lad drew the short straw but was actually very helpful and helped us order a variety of things including pancakes and some delicious egg custard tarts.

The most important thing to do today was to top-up our phone credit. We didn't expect it to be a problem as there were lots of China Mobile shops close to the hotel. In the first, the assistant couldn't understand what we wanted. She sent us down to another shop further along the road. They sent us across the road but still there was no way we could get across what we were after. In desperation we went down the road to a music shop, hoping to find an English speaker. The young female assistant was a piano music student at the local college, spoke good English and took us to a shop to buy a top-up card.

If you enjoyed our Guangdong page, why not have a look at some of our other Cycling China trips, such as:

Cycling in Guangxi

Cycling in Guizhou

Or you can return to our Home Page from Guangdong

or return to the top of this page

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