We reached the Yuon Po Bird Garden- an elevated block in the middle of Mong Kok filled with landscaped planters, benches, and birds! A common hobby among the retired men of HK is to keep song birds in small cages. These birds rarely leave their cages but early in the morning, the men carry the caged birds through the city and to the bird garden for a little exercise. They find a place at the garden to hang the cages and let their birds sing to each other while the men catch up with their fellow bird keepers. You can also buy birds and bird stuff at the garden.
We wandered out of the garden and eventually got back to our hotel. We packed up, chatted with the boys in FaceTime, and then caught a cab to the Hong Hom train station. We boarded an intercity train to Guangzhou at 1 pm!
We rolled through Kowloon and a bit of lush jungle and then all at once we crossed into mainland China. The city there- Shenzhen- appears to be in a constant state of development. Towering apartment buildings are half finished with cranes perched precariously 30 stories up. Next door are small earthen homes surrounded by rice paddies and meticulously cared for gardens. Mamas rode through cleanly swept streets on bicycles with children perched on the handle bars while sturdy looking blue dump trucks piled high with lumber rumbled next to them. Shenzhen turned into Guangzhou and our train ride was complete. We lugged suitcases off the train and up a opulent flights of stairs, passed through a quarantine area where our temperatures were read remotely, waited through immigration and then customs, finally one more security check, because, well, China, and then faced the Guangzhou train station arrival platform to find our driver, whom we had never met. Thankfully, we kind of stick out. Unfortunately, every taxi driver, money exchanger, and hostel hustler also was able to quickly identify the two white people searching for 'something' at the train station and offer their wares to us. Mr. Thomas, our driver, found us quickly and we were bustled into his van and off to our hotel. Which seemed like a long distance away from the train station but it was hard to tell for sure with traffic. We checked in, got to our rooms and started to unpack when one of our guides, Cordlia, knocked in our door. She took one look at the room and asked if we wanted to switch to a king sized bed (Austin was looking relieved since the beds were on the small side). She phoned the front desk and within minutes, we were lugging our suitcases down the hall to another room. Cordelia got down to business, going over details for tomorrow and helping us prepare our paperwork. While she was there, the hotel sent in a crib for Mila to sleep in. I didn't have a chance to think about the reality that by this time tomorrow there would be a little girl to actually sleep in that bed (or refuse to sleep in that bed!) as we were headed down to the crazy streets surrounding our hotel for a quick tour. Our hotel is located on one of two pedestrian streets in GZ. And being Sunday night, everyone was out walking! We checked out a few stores,found a place to buy snacks and baby gear, and got directions to a few other notable sites.
Cordelia brought us back to the hotel where we were lt with 'homework' of getting ready for Mila tomorrow! The plan is to leave at 2 pm tomorrow to head to the civil affairs building where the orphanage director will bring Mila. I have no idea how we will pass the eternity of tomorrow morning!