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Showing posts from May, 2013

Taipei's Umbrella Thieves

Taiwan is a very rainy place. Downpours can be heavy and last not only for a whole day, but for several days without interruption. 
Many shops and public places have at their entrance umbrella holders. It is a common habit in Taiwan to put one's umbrella into the holder before entering a store or other indoor areas. The purpose of these umbrella holders is - I presume - to prevent the floor from getting dirty and slippery. This might be a rational idea, but this habit has a very annoying side effect: Umbrella thefts.




Apparently, there are nice people who, having forgotten their own umbrella, believe that they have the right to take others'. It has already happened to me three times that my umbrella was stolen ... Okay, umbrellas are not expensive, so this is definitely not going to ruin me financially. Nevertheless, I find it extremely irritating. First of all, it is a matter of principle: This is my umbrella and I don't want anyone to take it from me without my permission. …

Two Months in Hong Kong - And Back to Taipei

After spending two months in Hong Kong, on Saturday I came back to Taipei. Since I had already lived in Taiwan for more than a year, I decided that it was about time to try out something else, and I chose Hong Kong. Some friends of mine asked me why Hong Kong. "There is not much to see," one of them said. "I spent there a day and visited everything. You will get bored", said another. Still, I do not regret 
The Feeling of Coming Back To Taipei
After living in the bustling, supermodern, vibrant Hong Kong, coming back to Taipei felt like going from a big city to a town. Not that Taipei is small, but it just feels like that when compared to the gigantic cosmopolitan financial centre that is Hong Kong.
Interestingly enough, Hong Kong, despite being part of China, feels far away from it. You hardly hear any Mandarin on the street, and, as I explained in my previous post, Hong Kong has a local identity distinct from mainland China's. Until 1997, Hong Kong was a cultural…

Hong Kong After 1997 - The 'Hong Kong Identity'

"How has Hong Kong changed after 1997?" - this is a question that many foreigners who come to Hong Kong ask local people. The transition from British colony to Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) was one of the most symbolic events of the last century and a major historical change witnessed by millions of people all around the world through the media.
Until 1997, Hong Kong's history was deeply entangled with the history of the British Empire. One may say that without the British Empire, Hong Kong as we know it might never have existed. Hong Kong has been one of the most astonishing and successful colonial experiments, and one of the most amazing blends of different traditions and cultures the world has ever seen.
I shall argue that 1997 did not simply mark the end of British colonial rule. It rather signified the shift of Hong Kong from a unique place that had been built upon the mix of different elements and outside of nationalist, economic or political ideologies…

Hong Kong's Skyline, Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon Clock Tower

One thing that every tourist should do before leaving Hong Kong is to cross Victoria Harbour by ferry. Ferries go regularly from Central Pier to Tsim Sha Tsui, in Kowloon peninsula. Tsim Sha Tsui (often called TST by locals) is one of the most densely populated commercial districts in Hong Kong, a major traffic hub and a popular tourist destination thanks to its shopping boulevards - whose luxury boutiques are mostly frequented by mainland Chinese nowadays -  old colonial buildings, high-class hotels, museums and exhibition centres.
However, the landmark of Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon is without doubt its characteristic waterfront promenade, which not only features an old clock tower - the last remnant of a demolished railway station - and the Avenue of Stars, but also boasts a wonderful view of the impressive skyline of Hong Kong Island, the city's financial and business centre.

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Tsim Sha Tsui
Tsim Sha Tsui can be reached both by MTR (change at Admiralty and take the red…

Kat Hing Wai Walled Village in Hong Kong

Kat Hing Wai (吉慶圍; Mandarin pinyin: Jíqìng wéi) is an ancient walled hamlet in Kam Tin village (錦田; Mandarin pinyin: Jǐn tián) , one of the oldest settlements in Hong Kong's New Territories. 
It is located in Yuen Long District, in the northwestern part of Hong Kong. The district borders on Shenzhen in mainland China.  To get to Kam Tin village you can take the purple line towards Tuen Mun and get off at Kam Sheung Road MTR Station. Kam Tin town and Kat Hing Wai village are only around 10-15 minutes on foot from the station (see map below).



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When I arrived at Kam Sheung Road Station, I was very surprised; I felt as though I was not in Hong Kong any more, but in a small, sleepy Chinese town on the countryside. There were no skyscrapers, no crowded streets or traffic jams. In front of the MTR station there was a huge square and a flea market, people strolled leisurely around. The rural character of this district makes it also a good place for cyclists, and in fact there w…