On the 12th of June, 2008, I took the bullet train from Kowloon to Guangzhou, passing through Hong Kong’s New Territories, Shenzhen, Dongguan, and into the satellite towns of Guangzhou. Despite this list of separate cities, I never really claimed a sense of leaving the city. Occasionally an area of green space or a mountain peak would appear surrounded by a crown of high rise apartment blocks, that could constitute a ‘countryside’ of sorts.
The brutal spectacle of Southern Guangdong Province seemed to be one vast mega city the size of Sussex, connected by highway belts, sky walkways, and wires pinned together and stringed along the buildings and the railway tracks. This cityscape appeared from the window like a cartoon that repeats its backdrop with a running character in the foreground.
A sense of leaving one city and entering the next was provided by the downscaling of buildings from office space, to apartment blocks, to a cluster of factory parks dispersed with landfill, before reaching another collection of factory parks, to apartment blocks to office space and so on.
I spoke to no one on the journey, except for the waitress who was handing out bottles of mineral water and packets of pretzels to anyone who wanted them.