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The world’s longest sea crossing: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

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Checking out the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Jennifer Atepolikhine makes it from DB to Zhuhai and back in just under four hours.

With all the talk of Hong Kong being invaded by its northern neighbours due to the opening of ‘The Bridge,’ I decided to return the compliment and make the crossing to Zhuhai. The journey was the draw for me rather than the destination – I simply wanted to check out the Hong Kong-ZhuhaiMacau Bridge (HZMB).

The six-lane HZMB was completed on February 6, 2018, and officially opened to the public on October 24 that same year. In case you’ve missed the hype, it connects Chek Lap Kok with Zhuhai in Guangdong province and then Macau, furthering the government’s goal of closer economic integration in the region. Having watched the bridge come up since December 2009 and appreciating that it cost a whopping 126.9 billion yuan (HK$148 billion) to build, I couldn’t wait to see (and experience) it in all its glory.

Cross-boundary Public Transport Services shuttle bus

All hail HZMB

Before I walk you through the logistics of my trip, here’s a brief introduction to the bridge itself. At 42-kilometres long, the HZMB is made up of a series of three cablestayed bridges, an undersea tunnel and four artificial islands. It’s both the longest sea crossing and the longest fixed link on earth. If you include the Zhuhai Link Road in its length, it spans 55 kilometres, making it 20 times longer than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

While the lifespan of most major cross-sea bridges is 100 years, the HZMB has been designed to last 120 years. It contains enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers and it’s
already proved its mettle – it had no trouble withstanding Typhoon Mangkhut’s 285 kilometre/ hour winds last September.

For those making the crossing, the views are spectacular from the get-go. As you set off, the bridge winds around the airport runways. It then hugs the rugged Lantau coastline north of Tai O, before heading out and over the South China Sea.

I’ve driven across many iconic bridges over the years, but what’s thrilling about the HZMB is that as you set out, you can’t see your destination. You can’t see where you’ll land. With water views extending past the horizon, it’s as if you are sailing across the sea. This impression is enhanced by the way the bridge has been designed to curve, snake-like, across the water rather than cut to its destination in a straight line.

Tasked with creating a uniquely beautiful bridge, while addressing any number of engineering challenges and environmental concerns, HZMB designer Arup has ensured that the towers above the three cable-stayed bridges make a big impression. Built to resemble, by turns, dolphins, Chinese knots and a boat’s mast, the towers make an impact whether viewed from road, sea or air.

Crossing the HZMB, only the occasional signboard impedes the glorious sea views, and you are lulled into a deep sense of relaxation as you ‘sail’ along. The shipping lanes are busy but there are very few vehicles – I saw less than 20 on the 40-minute journey.

At Zhuhai

The road trip

I love a good road trip especially if someone else is driving, and getting to Zhuhai by bus is a breeze, especially from Discovery Bay.

First, you need to make your way to the HZMB Hong Kong Port at the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities. It’s a cavernous, ultramodern building, with a stunning design motif of undulating waves, and it sits on reclaimed land right by Hong Kong International Airport. Both the B5 from Sunny Bay MTR station and the B6 from Tung Chung take you straight to the Passenger Clearance Building.

The Cross-boundary Public Transport Services shuttle buses run between either Hong Kong and Zhuhai or Hong Kong and Macau. It’s a 24-hour service, departing every five minutes (peak period), every 10 to 15 minutes (nonpeak) and every 15 to 30 minutes overnight. You can purchase tickets at the departure hall as I did, or online. The fare is minimal – a single ticket costs HK$65 during the day, HK$70 at night, and half that for children aged under 12, people with disabilities and senior citizens.

Once past immigration (note that if you’re headed for Zhuhai, you need a China entry visa even if you have a Hong Kong Identity Card), you exit for either Zhuhai or Macau, and queue up for your bus.

Making the crossing mid-week, I was practically the only non-Chinese passport holder on board. Efficient, clean and hassle-free is how I’d describe the trip, words not often used in conjunction with public transportation on the mainland. While inside the bus, everyone must stay seated and belted up DB to Zhuhai and back by bus– you’ll never have to stand in the aisle in an overcrowded bus.

Once through immigration at HZMB Zhuhai Port, you jump on an allelectric shuttle bus (L1) which takes you to the heart of Zhuhai in just 15 minutes. Or you turn around and head straight home as I did.

I’ll cross the HZMB again. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

At Sunny Bay


DB to Zhuhai and back by bus
• 1.20pm: DB03R from DB to Sunny Bay
• 1.56pm B5 bus from Sunny Bay MTR
• 2.10pm: Arrive HZMB Hong Kong Port
• 2.25pm: Depart HZMB Hong Kong Port
• 3.10pm: Arrive HZMB Zhuhai Port
• 3.20pm: Depart HZMB Zhuhai Port
• 4.00pm: Arrive HZMB Hong Kong Port
• 4.10pm: B6 to Tung Chung Station
• 4.35pm DB01R to DB Plaza
• 5.00pm: Home for supper

Cost of the roundtrip: HK$163.30


 

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