Marking my 18th visit to China in four years, instead of going by bus to Shunde, we opted to take the ferry. Normally, travel time by bus (Diamond Hill, Hong Kong to New World Hotel, Shunde) is anything from 3 to 6+ hours depending on traffic and the queue at immigration. The price is only HK$120 return,
The ferry departs from the China Ferry Terminal in TST, powers up the Pearl River Delta and arrives two hours later at Shunde Harbour. Instead of staying at New World Hotel, we stayed in a different part of Shunde district named Beijiao and in an AirBnB property.
I first went to Shunde in 2008 and have taken the bus every single time. First across the border at Lo Wu and then via Shenzhen Bay. I've spent countless hours queuing to get through immigration and stuck in traffic. The very first time I went, they were building a highway so the journey took considerably longer (plus there was an accident between a car driven by an utter idiot and our bus).
Taking the ferry was a much better experience than I ever imagined. Smooth waters all the way and comfortable. Upon arrival at Shunde Harbour terminal, going through immigration took less than ten minutes. No queues at all. The terminal itself is literally in the middle of nowhere. There are no shops. No ubiquitous 7-11, shopping centres, stalls. Nothing. There are free shuttle buses to various hotels though and some taxis; about half an hour away. Very, very different from the bus journey experience.
The ferries fit about 400 people on board, depart every half hour and the ticket price was HK$400 return compared to the bus which is only about HK$180.
This time, we stayed in an AirBnB at a gated community of semi/detached houses and low-rise flats. The 'main' road was lined with trees. Every house was different rather than the cookie cutter approach found in my housing developments in China today. The house we stayed in had three floors, five bedrooms, three bathrooms, three lounges, a big kitchen and ground floor dining/lounge area with a huge TV, a small garden and a couple of spare rooms. Air conditioning was a centralised unit. All for HK$1,000 per night.
[We slept on the world's hardest mattress which invoked unwelcome memories of Macau's Golden Dragon hotel, Circa 2008]
There was an abundance of mosquitos and the homeowner had thoughtfully provided an electric tennis racket and spray. Although there was a dumpling/noodle shop, convenience store, butcher and fruit, / veg shops within the compound, and a staffless supermarket only a twenty-minute walk away, the location was remote.
Cashless and no staff supermarket. QR code access and payment.
A notable difference to our China journey this time was the absence of taxis on the streets. We were told that people preferred to use Didi because it's trustworthy and the route is shown before entry. Cabs were scarce on the street and the one we found, wasn't on the meter as the driver quoted the price to the destination.