Hong Kong

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Checking out in HK on the 1st of September, heading through the customs to arrive in Shenzhen, hopping on the nightbus to Guilin – in GDP-wise poor, image-rich Guangxi Province – the hub to a backpacker paradise… Life’s good, but always busy somehow 😉

We had a good time in HK meeting up with Yvonne (I know her from 2010 Chinese summer language program in Shanghai) and Sasha (a kind guy, who’s doing his master in HK – we met up in Taipei in August this year during ICLP in National Taiwan University). We experienced delicious Dim Sum, went to Stanley Market on HK island, Temple Street in Kowloon with another culinary experience of great seafood, had drinks in Ozone on the 118th floor – highest bar in the world so far – visited Bubba Gump Shrimps on Victoria peak and the infamous Lan Kwai Fong, where the British influence should become quite obvious, shouldn’t you have noticed already that HK is super-western. We wasted one day for wannabe Las Vegas – it was more interesting when I went to Macao the first time. Wanted to accompany the boys though. Enough of concrete, skyscrapers and smog, let’s inhale some of what mother has to offer – that’s what occurred to us after visiting probably THE metropolitan spot of the whole world.

And we weren’t disappointed. Guilin had to offer a nice hostel and a bus to Yangshuo. That’s a little commercialized city giving way to great expeditions to the marvelous scenery in the province – and some rooftop parties for mainly foreigners. Put briefly: it’s quite touristy there. You get Weisswurst, Continental breakfast and surprisingly delicious authentic italian pizza, on top nearly everyone speaks at least basic English there. A little knowledge of mandarin is never in vain though!

On the first evening in Yangshuo at Mojo rooftop bar, we got to know a local girl while playing beer pong (quite popular even outside of the States obviouly). Her name was Sue and she works in a climbing shop. We rented a scooter and she guided us to some remote places and nice little villages around Yangshuo. The day after we had an exhausting Kayak tour on Li Jiang (Li River). The weather was perfect for it, we probably should have put on some more sun screen 😉 Heading back to Guilin the same night we booked a tour to the Longji Rice Terasses, on the so-called dragon backbone – a place I wanted to visit badly after my first longer stay in China in 2008. It paid off, the place would have been even nicer in Spring though, when the terasses are flooded. At this time of the year harvest is about to happen, actually.

Following that trip to the scenic rice terasses of Longji, we’re now lying on a hard sleeper bunk heading to Nanning and then Hanoi. It’s the 7th of September and we only have one more month left for basically whole South-East-Asia – nothing is impossible, just keep on running and never look back. It’s my shift to watch our belongings, so I’d better be attentive – it doesn’t really seem dangerous, neither does it feel very safe though – Transsiberian railway-feeling comes up again.

Stay tuned for some oakilicious stories from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia!

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台湾 (Taiwan)

It has already been more than one month since I arrived in Asia, and I haven’t found the time so far to compose a blog-entry. This August 2011 in Taipei was just another amazing experience to me because of the good friendships we developed on the one hand and the challenges we had to undergo in Chinese class on the other hand.

Leaving Taipei was quite emotional as you practically see each other 24/7 for one month thus grow together really quickly, no matter how diverse the group actually was. I think the more diverse you are the more you can learn from each other. My take-away of Taiwan were a lot of endless discussions about the difference to mainland China, learning about the cultural development of a former Japanese/Dutch colony and getting to know locals. I would like to repeat in this place that it was never my intention to offend or judge whole culture-circles in any of the discussions we had – as a “passionately curious” person I just tried to find out what’s going on. I hope these kind of characteristics of mine are valued (although being annoying sometimes, probably ;)) as they are leading to better mutual understanding in my opinion.

I wasn’t at all surprised that Taiwan, at least Taipei, seems different to China as people enjoy democracy, freedom of speech and information. In addition, there seem to be quite a few tensions left between the “Peoples Republic of China” and the “Republic of China”, hence unification doesn’t really seem discussable. The question rises: “Why should China be further unified?” – It’s too big anyways. I was elaborating on this topic in our Explore Taiwan classes, as we had to write essays. One County_Two Systems

The urge of China to maintain their status of being the “country in the middle” sometimes doesn’t help bilateral relations. Examples are the few regions which want to gain (Tibet, Xinjiang) or already gained autonomy (HK, Taiwan). Especially the Special Administrative Regions (SAR) Hong and Macao have no ambitions to grow closer to Beijing (although having been handed over to China in the 90ies again for a certain agreed period) as they are economically independent and the living standard is pretty high.

In my paper I concluded the cross-strait relation of China and Taiwan like this: “Due to the ambiguity of cross-strait relations with China as an economic super power on the one hand as well as former colonialized, new free and democratic Taiwan on the other hand a mutual solution is still to be agreed upon. Referring to the 1992 Consensus both countries interpret their own culture and political development as the predominant for whole China, which might not be the best approach for their further diplomatic forthcoming.”

However, in a diplomatic world, autonomous regions and independent states should be administrable.
I don’t really know what took me to that topic now, as I originally intended to describe my life in Taiwan a little. I think the better job to describe that is done by the pictures on Facebook ;). Tomorrow we’re leaving Hong Kong to go to Guilin by bus. I’ll also send back my computer tomorrow, that’s why my online-presence, posts and picture albums will stagnate somehow within this September 2011.

I wish you all the best though! Have heaps of fun!

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Nevertheless Shenzhen would be an interesting place to spend more time we went to the Customs and stepped across the border on territory of Special Administrative Region Hong Kong. Hong Kong belongs to China mainland but has a high authority in decision making owing to the line ‘one country, two systems’. This place used to be dependent territory of the United Kingdom in colonial times and an important harbour for the Empire starting from the mid 19th century. More than 10 years ago in 1997 the territory was returned to the Peoples Republic of China.

hong kong island

 

 

香港 (Hong Kong)

 

Driving through the so called New Territories breathtaking sceneries opened up to us till we reached Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, where we checked into our by far to small hostel room. Nevertheless it didn’t detain from taking a glimpse at the amazing skyline of Hong Kong Island at night. On the next day we mainly explored Hong Kong Island itself including the Victoria Peak and the famous Lan Kwai Fong, a very touristic bar and club area.

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Lantao 烂头

On Saturday we went to Lantao, the biggest island of Hong Kong, to see the Tian Tan Buddha aka Giant Buddha. We reached that place by MTR (the local metro) although we could have also gone by ferry. At the cable car station we unfortunately had to wait for approximately an hour to finally enter the cabin and go up to Ngong Ping 360 where the Buddha is located nearby an idyllic monastery.

 

tian tan buddha

In the evening we went back to Kowloon to enjoy the noisy commotion at Temple Market and Mong Kok.

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Macao 澳门

macau_location

澳门 (Macao)

 

On Sunday we took the Ferry to the 60 km west of Hong Kong located Macao. Through the Portugese settlement in the early 16th century Macao is the first and last European colony in China. The old part of the city reminds of colonial architecture especially the ruins of St. Paul’s Church on the top of the hill.

 

 

st- paul'

It is the second Special Administrative Region next to Hong Kong and thanks to its monopoly in gambling license and concessions the highest-volume gambling centre in the world out ruling even Las Vegas in terms of revenue. Therefore Las Vegas casino owners want to enter the market which leads to a remarkable rocketing concerning the number of hotels and casinos built there. One of the most mentionable things I probably have ever seen in my life was the Venetian Macau, one of the biggest buildings in the world.

venitian macau

As Raphael, Mikkel and me enjoyed ourselves there so much we decided to stay over night (without hotel room) just strolling around and visiting the casinos.

To sum up this trip really paid as it was a great experience and the areas we visited are fun places to be.

 

 

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