The Guardian - Travel - - Travel -

The iden­tikit apart­ment blocks and mousy­brown fields were as un­re­mark­able as the pale scrub­land. It should have made for an un­re­mark­able en­try into China’s Guang­dong prov­ince. Ex­cept it wasn’t. The thrill of be­ing aboard Hong Kong’s first bul­let train, the Vi­brant Ex­press, was all about speed, not scenery.

Aero­dy­namic, gleam­ing white and pol­ished to per­fec­tion, the pointy-nosed train had de­parted Hong Kong’s brand new West Kowloon sta­tion, one of the world’s largest (partly) sub­ter­ranean sta­tions, on time. Just 48 min­utes later, we glided, qui­etly and smoothly into Guangzhou, the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal of Guang­dong, and China’s third-largest city, home to 14 mil­lion peo­ple.

In­for­ma­tion boards in the sta­tion claimed that the Vi­brant Ex­press is the lat­est of 5,000 high-speed trains that op­er­ate daily across China, part of the coun­try’s record-break­ing multi-bil­lion­dol­lar ex­pan­sion of high-speed rail.

Awestruck, and mak­ing un­favourable com­par­isons with the UK’s dod­der­ing rail net­work, I had lin­gered in Hong Kong’s new­est sta­tion be­fore set­ting off. First, I queued to dine at a branch of Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong’s most af­ford­able

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