Saturday 3 January - Sunday 4 January
Alex Ip had invited us to stay at his new apartment in Greenville City, the complex where we enjoyed a few days last year. The Ips have recently moved into a new block, one of the most recently completed. Ada Chan, Alex's wife, has spent considerable time organising the decoration, which is in keeping with her artistic nature. One bedroom is kept for her studio, where her paintings are laid on the window ledge to dry and hanging on the wall. She is very talented.
We met Alex and Mr and Mrs Wong, our companions on our last visit, at the station at ab0ut 9. We all had a very quick trip through the border formalities, and then got a bus directly for Zhong Shan. A 2-hour ride brought us to the Overseas Chinese Hotel in Zhongshan City where we had a delicious lunch which included 2 types of pigeon (crispy and steamed), rice and noodles and gong fu type tea.
After lunch we caught another bus to the estate, which is about 30 minutes in slow traffic from the City. We enjoyed the view from Alex's apartment, walked around the environs and rested until the car came to collect us for a trip to the river mouth for dinner at about 5. The rural area is known for its seafood and to us was reminiscent of a restaurant on a river in Malaysia that we had enjoyed many years ago.
We were a cramped 6 in the car, but the drive was not longer than 30 minutes and the evening scenery compensated for the discomfort. The sight alone of the setting sun on the water from the restaurant was well worth the trip .
Alex and Mr Wong chose the fish for dinner from the tanks while we just enjoyed the sights of the drying fish on the line, the changing light and the lone fisherman rowing home. The cooking was done in a tin box of a kitchen - perhaps bearable on a slightly chilly night, but I couldn't help thinking that it must have been hell in summer.
Dinner was a real feast: steamed shrimps, crab, fan scallops, fish soup, soft fish in batter and vegetable. By the time we had finished eating it was dark, with a lone star in the sky. Again we had an uncomfortable ride back to the apartment - a little more unnerving in the dark when on the 'wrong' side of the road, particularly as I noticed the speedo on the car didn't work. One less thing for the driver to monitor, I suppose!
Alex spent some time getting the room and bedding ready for us, but we finally got to bed and quickly to sleep. We were up and about at 7 on Sunday, and went for an early breakfast with Alex, before the Wongs joined us. Mrs Wong had had an upset stomach in the night, but seemed all right for the rest of the day. After a breakfast of congee and noodles, with a cup of coffee (my first in nearly 2 weeks), we all went for a long walk around the estate.
It was a beautiful day - fine, with fluffy clouds and no wind. Eddie had a wonderful time photographing everything he could see, and the rest of us just wandered and chatted. The area is a huge complex, and very easy to walk around, as there are many roads and streets and apartment blocks. It began from a golf course about 10 years ago and is still developing.
On our return to the apartment, Alex spent some time cleaning up, ready for Ada's return on Thursday, then it was lunchtime. We had an extensive lunch at the local restaurant (pigeon again, along with beef curry, soup, chicken, and fish heads, all very tasty), before we were driven to the bus stop to wait for the bus to take us back to Hong Kong. It was a through bus, so at the border, we went through the formalities (again very fast) and back on to a bus which took us through Tsing Yi to Tsuen Wan. The evening light was beautiful on the rocky hills and valleys, which provided ever-changing vistas.
Mr Wong guided us to a bus for Fanling, and again we enjoyed a different view of the landscape from the upper deck. We were home in the dark at 7 - to catch a glimpse of the half moon and evening star - a perfect end to a very enjoyable weekend.