Recently I spent two weeks with my family over in Hong Kong, China and Macau. This long overdue trip was our first family holiday for over two years. It was a very special trip as we were accompanied by my grandma and my first uncle and his wife. I had a great time catching up with my immediate family members but also got to know my China relatives.
Day 1 spent was in 香港 Hong Kong as there were no direct flights between Sydney and Shenzhen. I stayed in the Mingle Place (Tsim Sha Tsui). I was attracted to the place because it’s claim to a technology centric hotel. I think all hotels should not charge their guest for internet usage, instead they should provide it as a value added service.
The first thing you noticed about Hong Kong is space commands a premium here. Even for Singaporean like myself, it’s amazed me how tall and densely placed living conditions in this place.The society moves at a pulsating pace with great amount of energy and drive. This is a place where everyone is determined to curve a slice to call its own, prove its worth and fight it out.
The integrated public transport all the way from the airport express station to suburban train and bus networks are very affordable, frequent and absolutely world class. The stored value (RFID enabled) Octopus Card (launched in 1997) allows you to pay for your public transport as well as daily needs.
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China (Shen Zhen, Chao Zhou)
To get to 深圳 Shen Zhen from Hong Kong, one of the fastest and cheapest way is to catch the KCR Train to 羅湖 Lo Wu border crossing to meet up with the rest of my family members. From Lo Wu (part of Shen Zhen), we caught a bus to 潮州 Chao Zhou. There are several dialects groups in China and I belong to the Chaozhou (aka Teochew) group. Teochew people are known for their artistic (tea set pottery, stone masonry) and scholarly pursuits as well as entrepreneurial traits.
When I was there, my family visited the ancestral house and we stayed in my China auntie’s place who lives in a modern penthouse. Her place was complete with security guard, gym, roof-top garden,activity room (table tennis), broadband internet and fully air conditioned. Her living condition like many rising middle class in China surpasses both my Sydney and Singapore homes.
It was at her place where I experienced China internet censorship controls when I have difficulties accessing my blog hosted on WordPress and referring to articles on Wikipedia. This generation has adopted internet communication so readily, even my Chinese auntie and uncle used instant messaging (QQ)and consume data services on their mobile phones. I also witnessed how readily my cousin participated mobile commerce and virtual money like regular transactions. Although broadband availability is limited, but their speed is very impressive.
During my visit, I also developed a deeper appreciation of the different types of Chinese tea from my auntie who is very skilled in the art of gongfu tea.
– Lo Wu (Shen Zhen) – On the rooftop overlooking the city from the ancestral house – Fancy a smoke, anyone? – Or maybe braised dog meat is more of your thing? – Soup of the Day – Star fish, sea horse, sea snakes and other herbal tonics in a prepacked soup pack where you can pick up from the supermarket.
Getting over to 澳門 Macau is easy, fast, comfortable and inexpensive with the TurboJet ferry from Hong Kong. Macau is a smaller compared to Hong Kong but in recently years, it’s getting very geared towards the gaming industry. Last year, the BBC reported that Macau may have overtaken Las Vegas as the world’s top gambling destination in terms earnings because of the availability and preference for higher staked games.
After being in Las Vegas in last Oct, I don’t think the current Macau gaming sector would attract a wide audience like Vegas. The current overall offering is still heavily target mainly for the wealthy mainlanders who comes over for a punt. Not quite your typical meetings, incentive tours or conventions venue. Well, things will certainly change with the opening of the mega conference and convention centre within the Venetian Macao Hotel (summer 2007)
Macau’s future is about gaming industry. Before that it was a Portuguese colony, a port rich in Portuguese heritage. This is evident by the recognition of Portuguese as one of its official language. The city centre is also laced with many Catholic churches. In fact, the St Francis Xavier church in Macau, housed the sacred relic of arm bone from the saint.
I really enjoyed visiting this places. This trip left me with lasting impression that Greater China Region (GCR) is a marvellous and an exciting place to be. It would be a privilege if one day I can play a part in the world largest economical transformation in this part of the world.