At the station before the final stop on the train journey. This scene would be quite normal for peak hour on a weekday in central Hong Kong, but this was on a Saturday in the outskirts of HK:
People and luggage bags heading for immigration at Lowu:
The main reason for the trip was to meet a blogosphere friend, Stephanie of The Traveling Tastebuds, who had just moved over to this side of the world. Her visa is still being processed and she couldn't make it into HK for the new year's celebrations, so I decided to go over there and give her some company. That girl is just as sweet and bubbly in real life as she sounds like on cyberspace. Her dad - who is accompanying Steph in her first few weeks in China - is a real nice gentleman who reminds me a lot of my dad (it turns out that they are similar in age and their hometowns are less than 15km apart!).
The lovely Stephanie and me, at KK Mall, a high-end shopping mall that is similar to the countless high-end malls in Hong Kong, but without the crowd:
Father and daughter were great hosts in the few hours I was with them, feeding me a delicious and filling yum cha lunch, and being ultra-patient with me while I did some shopping at the Luohu Commercial City (I bought loads of stuff but none of them were for me). I don't often come across good bargainers, but these two might be even better at bargaining than my mum and me! I think Stephanie will have loads of fun shopping and bargaining during her tenure in Shenzhen.
Three varieties of dim sum cakes: water chestnut cake, the more ubiquitous turnip/radish cake and taro cake. It was my first encounter with the water chestnut cake, and I liked its crisp slightly sweet flavour:
We ordered too much dim sum, but we finished most of them! Char siu bao (barbecued pork buns), xiu mai, fung zao (aka phoenix claws or chicken feet), lo mai gai (sticky rice with chicken in lotus leaf), pai gu (spare ribs), and har gao (shrimp dumpling), all served in not-so-traditional steaming baskets. We also had har cheong (prawn rice noodle roll), but not pictured here:
Chinese new year decorations at Luohu Commercial City, which is five-storeys full of designer fakes and low-quality stuff - but the shops do tolerate hard bargaining (I recommend never buying things here at the asking price - in fact I bought all of my items at less than half the asking price). Popular with many "one-day" visitors from HK:
I don't get many chances to meet internet friends in person, so I was quite pleased to finally meet Stephanie. I'm sure we will have more opportunities to meet up in future.