Return to China — Heritage Tour 2006
On June 29, 2006 we left Houston for our first trip to China since 2002. We traveled on Continental Airlines from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Los Angeles International. At LAX we transferred to Cathay Pacific's flight 885 departing at 1:20 PM for Hong Kong.
The flight across the Pacific took about 11.5 hours and we landed at Hong Kong's beautiful Chek Lap Kok Airport a few minutes before 7 PM. Cathay Pacific has a good reputation for friendly service and the cabin crew on this flight were wonderful. They helped us with the girls at every stage of the flight (a couple of new and fully-charged gameboys also helped!). The coach cabin was full but Cathay does provide about one-inch greater seat pitch than other airlines - so it was bearable. We also liked Cathay's in-flight entertainment. There was plenty of variety for everyone. The Disney movie selections were a real hit with the girls.
Tsing Ma Bridge. On the Tsing Yi side of the bridge, we turned north and west to the border crossing at Shenzhen.Hong Kong was just our gateway into China this day - our final destination for this leg of the trip was Guangzhou. Perhaps better known to the English speaking world as Canton, Guangzhou is approximately 75 miles from Hong Kong. Instead of changing to another flight to Guangzhou, we opted to hire a van. After clearing immigration and customs at Chek Lap Kok, we met our driver in the arrivals hall. He escorted us to the van and drove us from the airport and across the magnificent
Although Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, it is considered a Special Autonomous Region (SAR) within China. As a result, when crossing from Hong Kong into mainland China, you must clear immigration and customs. Our driver was very experienced with this process and the appropriate officials just stamped our visas and we were admitted right away. From Shenzhen, we rode through mostly countryside to Guangzhou.
We were glad we decided to hire a car to drive us to Guangzhou. After being on a crowded aircraft all day, it was a real relief to be able to spread out in the van and just relax. It took about 2 hours and 30 minutes to make the trip. While this is longer than the airplane, the new Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou is located quite a distance (about an hour) away from the city center. So, using the hired minivan probably took no more than an extra 45 minutes versus the plane - and was a lot more relaxing.
The other option for travel between Hong Kong and Guangzhou is the train. We considered this but it would have involved taking a taxi to the railway station in Kowloon and then shepherding our daughters and luggage through the station and onto the train. We have heard many good reports about the train and look forward to trying it once our daughters are a little older and better able to manage without as much assistance.