Hong Kong vs. Mainland China

Whew! It's been a hectic couple of days since I left Hanoi. First off, for all the crazy busy traffic of Hong Kong after leaving the crazy crazy busy traffic of Hanoi felt positively peaceful! The first night I was there I stayed in a cheap hostel and had a room/closet to sleep in. It was awesome. The only good thing about having your own closet to sleep in is that I could blow my nose as loudly as I want at night - which I've been doing a lot cause I'm still fighting my cold.
I made my 2.5 days in Hong Kong jam packed with activities including taking the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island, taking the tram up to the point and taking the crazy mid-level escalators that take you all the way up the steep incline on HK island. (On the bad side, there are not escalators to take you down!).
I was there on a Sunday and was walking near the parks at Central MTR and there were literally thousands and thousands of women who had made mini-picnics on the streets and were playing cards. All woman - not a man on sight. Apparently this is where all the Phillipino domestic workers meet up on their day off to chill and hang out. I do feel like I didn't really get a sense of what real HongKongers are like except for when you see them riding the MTR. They LOVE wearing black and being all business suit-like.
I also went to the Hong Kong art museum (a PASS - the contemporary section only featured ONE artist) and saw the light show (which is also touristy and kind of 80's reminiscent) but still worth seeing especially cause its FREE. Also went to all the required markets in HK including Jade Market, Goldfish Market, Flower Market, Electronics Market, Clothing Market and Temple street night market. There is TOO much shopping!! Everywhere/Everything is a shopping mall and I saw wayyy to many young men staring lustfully at watches and electronic items. In HK the consumerist culture is definitely proudly celebrated!
I've joined my second group and we crossed into Mainland China. It was pretty easy from HK - your just take a subway! Which is why I kept on having bad nightmares of accidentally crossing over to mainland from HK and invalidating my single entry visa. It seems getting a visa for China is really simple / really hard just depending on where you get it. i.e. Laos, Vietnam, HK = really simple.
Took the overnight train to Guilin - in Vietnam your have 4 people to a cabin - in China you have 6. I was on the top bunk on overnight and its crazy cramped - you can't even sit up straight and I was actually feeling catastrophic and had to try to go to sleep right away when I got to my bunk. From Guilin we took a bust to Yangshuo. It's a touristy resort town - but its worth seeing. Everywhere you look you see amazing landscape of what they call 'Karst' mountains. It's look so beautiful they take you by surprise every time you notice them. They are also lit up at night which looks amazing.
We went down the Li River on a 'bamboo' boat which wasn't actually made out of Bamboo and went biking and hiking up 'moon hill'. I wish I could insert the bottom / top pictures of the hike here because its was actually crazy high. Also saw a light show that is done by over 300 villages / actors and its was created by the same person who did the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. It's pretty cool actually - there is this one part where over a 100 farmers on boats are manipulating lines of red cloth which looks kind of like the Chinese flag. In another section there is 200 women who are wearing lights so they look like skeletons dances in the pitch blackness.
You see a lot of signs of the 'one child policy' here - mostly lots of grand parents taking care of the super cute and chubby grand kids where presumably the parents are out working to support both the older and the younger. I actually saw rice fields being sown with water buffaloes - I'm sure that will be replaced with machines in a couple of years.
Next we're off to the Three Gorges - will be on a boat for two nights going down the Yangzi river. Exciting!