It might sound unbelievable but I have finally received the multi-entry Chinese visa. It took just 92 days to get it. After this experience, I will not complain about slow Czech government offices anymore. They are very fast!
Anyway, imagine how excited I was when I saw the visa in my passport so I just grabbed it and took the first shuttle bus going to the Border gate, an entrance from Macau to China, to the city of Zhuhai.
This border is different from what I was used to. When I imagine a border, there are cars, buses, trucks waiting in a line for check-in. At this border, there are almost no cars. Instead, as Macau and Zhuhai are closely connected there are people passing the border on foot. If you look from Macau tower you can’t actually recognise where Macau ends and Zhuhai begins…
I showed up at the Border gate at 6 p.m. which was not the best choice. I occured there in the middle of a peak time. There were thousands of people heading from their job in Macau back home. As Chinese workers are cheaper than Macanese, there are a lot of them working in Macao. They live in China and they have to commute every day. They usually work in constructions. When I entered the waiting hall, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I think I haven’t seen so many people at one place before. No wonder, in average 300 000 people pass the border every day.
It took one hour to get through both Macao and China passport check. After that, I got directly into the city centre of Zhuhai. There is a big shopping mall just behind the border. It is cheaper than in Macao. I bought there some exotic fruits for much better prices. Anyway, I wanted to see the street life so I went out of the shopping mall and followed the main street. My friends warned me. Don’t go there. The city stinks and is very ugly. Actually, they were right. Tofu smelled bad everywhere and the city wasn’t the most beautiful I have seen. Moreover, it was dark followed by a typical British weather with light rain. It just emphasized the atmosphere of the city. Later, I was glad to meet my Chinese friends who brought me to taste Sichuan food in a nice local restaurant. We had to wait a half an hour to get a table but it was worth it. Sichuan food is very tasty.
The first impression of the city was not the best so I wanted to see Zhuhai also during daylight. Me and one German friend went there two days later again. As we didn’t wake up early, we skipped the rush time and went through the Border gate pretty quickly. It was a beautiful sunny day. At once, I enjoyed the city. Broad boulevards provided us with a lot of space (something you really miss in crowded Macau) and we could see the whole blue sky (also difficult to see in Macau as skyscrapers prevent sun rays from coming).
The city surprised me. It was clean and modern. New cars were passing. No trace of poverty. That’s how I didn’t imagine China. The reason probably lies in its history. The city became important recently. Until the 1970s, Zhuhai was just a group of fishing villages with a population of around 100,000. Since 1980, when it was designated a Special Economic Zone by the central government, Zhuhai has expanded to nearby areas and became a fast-growing modern city today with well over three million inhabitants. As it has almost no history, there is not a lot to see in the city. However, China is a country of imitating and Zhuhai is not an exception. They built there a huge area called “a little Beijing” where you can see major sights from the capital. After visiting it, I don’t have to go to Beijing. I have already climbed the Great wall…
…or visited the forbidden city and the Yuanming Palace.
I also became there a Chinese… monarch? Or what? I actually don’t know, they didn’t speak English.
Time for a break? You can also visit there a fake McDonald’s. Do you want a fake Big Mac for 13 YUAN (1,5 EUR)?
The city doesn’t make a favorable impression if you are close to the border gate. However, the rest of the city is pretty nice, with a lot of green parks. It was worth seeing. Visiting Zhuhai is a good way to escape from crowded Macau.