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Showing posts from April, 2013

Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery and Hakka Dinner

After talking with my flatmate for several hours (record broken!), here I am, at 5:02 in the morning, writing this post. Outside I hear the first birds chirping, reminding me that soon the sun will rise.
But before going to sleep I would just like to share a few pictures I took last evening. A friend asked me to join her and two of her friends (a girl from Hong Kong and a German guy) to visit some sights and have dinner - this pretty much saved my Saturday evening, because originally I had no plans. By the way, I'd like to thank my Hong Kong friends who were so nice to show us foreigners around.
First we went to the Wong Tai Sin temple, but it was already closed (at around 6 pm). So we went to Nan Lian Garden, which is near Diamond Hill MTR Station (see map below).

View Larger Map
The Nan Lian Garden is a public park which despite its ancient looks was opened in 2006. It is a reproduction of the garden style of the Tang Dynasty era (7th - 9th century). It reflects the desire to redisc…

The Peak - Hong Kong's Historic Heritage

The Peak is a must-see for every tourist coming to visit Hong Kong. Situated 1,200 feet above sea level, it commands an impressive view of Hong Kong's ultra-modern skyline and of its harbour. 

Here British settlers who arrived in the 19th century sought to escape the heat and the crowds of the city. Built on the highest spot in Hong Kong island, the Peak was the very centre and symbol of Western power and of the authority and strength of British rule.


Today the Peak is renowned for being the location where one can enjoy the best panoramic view of the world-famous Hong Kong skyline and the harbour.


How To Get To The Peak
The Peak is not close to the city centre, but it's very easy to reach thanks to the Peak Tram, a funicular tram that was completed in 1888 - in those days a masterpiece of Western technology. Before the construction of the tram, the only way to get there was to "hike up" the steep hill on foot, or to be carried there by local coolies on a sedan chair (see…

Cartoonist Arrested For Sedition in Singapore

Leslie Chew, the Singaporean cartoonist behind the popular Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore, was arrested on Friday for sedition and was released on a S$10,000 (around 6,300 Euros) bail two days later (South China Morning Post 25/04/2013, p. A10).

He has been charged with sedition, as defined by Singapore's Sedition Act, for posting on the 27 of March a comic strip that allegedly accused the Singaporean government of racism towards Malay minorities. 
The strip, with the subtitle "Malay Population. Deliberately suppressed by a racist government", depicts a politician saying "We have the some [sic!] of the most talented Indians from India, most talented Chinese and most talented Caucasians for companies to tap on." Someone in the crowd asks: "What? No mention of Malay talents?" And two others say: "It is no secret that he abhors Malays." "Damn racist government!"
Leslie Chew's satiric Facebook page has over 22,000 followers. It …

Filial Piety in Chinese Culture and the Myth of Collectivism (Part III) - Footbinding In Old Chinese Society and the Concept of 疼 (téng)

Anointed with fragrance, she takes lotus steps; Though often sad, she walks with swift lightness. She dances like the wind, leaving no physical trace. Another stealthily tries on this palace style, but feels such distress when she tries to stand; So wondrously small they defy description, Unless placed in the palm.
(Su Shi, 1036-1101 AD,  quoted in: Wang 2000, p. 29)









There is perhaps no better proof that the myth of the harmonious Chinese society has often been manipulated for ideological purposes, than the ancient custom of footbinding. For it is in this custom that we see how the idea of collectivism, as I have described it in one of my previous posts, has been re-interpreted in a misleading way in order to enhance a certain political agenda. 
Nowadays, no defender of Asian values would ever mention footbinding as a traditional characteristic of the Asian family; so deep has been the rejection of this practice. Yet for hundreds of years footbinding was, along with concubinage and other social…

The Hutchison Whampoa Strike and Hong Kong's Tycoons

Yesterday The Sunday Morning Post reported on yet another controversy between the unionist leaders of the dockworkers' strike and Mr. Canning Fok Kin-ning, the managing director of the Hutchison Whampoa group, to which the dock terminals hit by the strike belong.
Mr. Canning Fok launched a media attack against unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, one of the promoters of the strike. On 20 April, the 24th day since the beginning of the strike, Hong Kong International Terminals Ltd. (HIT), which is owned by the Hutchison group, spent estimated HK$1 million to place ads on numerous Hong Kong newspapers and denounce Mr Lee. The only media outlet that was not included in the ads campaign was Apple Daily, the most popular paper in the city. One possible reason why Apple Daily was not considered suitable for being used as a platform by the Hutchison group is that the paper belongs to Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of the Communist Party and an advocate of freedom of speech.
"Is someone unw…

Macau: Gambling, Corruption, Prostitution, and Fake Worlds

As I mentioned in my previous post, Macau has different faces and identities: there is the old Macau, full of colonial buildings and in which the pace of life seems to resemble a relaxed Mediterranean town rather than a bustling, hectic Chinese city, such as Hong Kong or Shanghai. On the other hand, there is the Macau of gambling, of gigantic hotel and casino resorts, and of prostitution. These two Macaus seem to be spatially separated from each other, with an intact colonial city centre and nice outskirts with small alleys on the one side, and bombastic, modern buildings on the other. 



The Importance of Gambling for Macau's Economy
Dubbed the 'Monte Carlo of the East', Macau has often been portrayed as the gambling capital of China. Media reporting on Macau tend present pictures of the city's glistening, apparently luxurious skyline. But a visit in Macau suffices to realize that it is far from being as wealthy and posh as one might assume. Macau's gambling and casin…