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Shenjhen, China

While in Hong Kong, I found out that mainland China is only about a 40 minute train ride away, so I applied for a single-entry visa (HKD$210, USD$26.25) and went up for a day.  Despite the Hong Kong residents warnings of beggars, hookers, pickpockets and bad hygene in the restaurants, I found Shenjhen a clean, well-laid out, modern city. This is mainly because it's relatively new, around 20-30 years old and built to be a trade and tourist gateway to Hong Kong.  The picture on the right is of a very large park in the center of the city.  Leaving the border crossing, I walked north-east, then west then south-east back to the border, for a total of about 7 hours of walking. My legs were very sore the next day!  At one point, I had to cross a small river through a bridge construction site - the workers showed me how to climb across a rickety scaffold to get to the other side which saved about an extra 2 hours of walking!

The picture on the right is of a lake in the middle of the park above. You might be able to see the two men wading in the water, whacking it with long bamboo poles.  After a while I figured out they were driving small fish in the pond toward the nets they had set up.

I was saddened by the number of McDonald's restaurants in this part of the world - the spread of western influence at its worst. At least I thought it was until I spotted this Wal-Mart Supercenter across the lake.  Of course, I had to go inside and it looks very similar to the ones we have here, even down to the yellow smiley face guy. The difference was they sold products the locals are more used to, but I'm sure at discounted prices, and no bargaining at the checkout!