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Showing posts from November, 2014

A Walk in Hong Kong's Wan Chai District: Old Post Office, Blue House, Hung Shing Temple, and Pak Tai Temple

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend of mine at a Thai restaurant in Central. After we finished our meal my friend went back to work. Since the weather was quite pleasant that day, I decided to take a walk to Tin Hau.
During my walk I took a few pictures of some interesting old buildings in Wan Chai District. Surrounded by modern skyscrapers, these old structures are among the few ones that have withstood the urban development frenzy of the post-war era.
Wan ChaiIn the morning of 26 January 1841 Sir James Bremer of the British Royal Navy, accompanied by army officers and Royal Marines, landed on the north-west part of Hong Kong, a spot that came to be known as Possession Point (which is now the site of the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal). He toasted Queen Victoria and took formal possession of the small island in her name. Hong Kong had been ceded to the British by the Qing Empire during the First Opium War. London secured the naval base through the Convention of Chuanbi and later throug…

Hong Kong's "Umbrella City"

When I left Hong Kong back in September, Occupy Central had just begun. I went to Admiralty and Central on the first day of the protests, which was the 28th. The following morning I flew to Taipei. 
I was very sad, not only because I was leaving a city which I love more and more each time I return there, but also because I had seen history unfolding before my eyes and yet I was suddenly cut off from those events. While I was sitting on the express train to the airport, I had already made up my mind that I would go back to Hong Kong as soon as possible. 
And I was right. What I have seen in Hong Kong over the past few days is amazing, and I feel glad and privileged that I could be part of this historic moment. At least I'll be able to tell my grandchildren that I was here. 

YouBike - Good or Bad for Taipei?

In 2008 Taipei City’s Department of Transportation launched the Taipei Bike Sharing Pilot Program, which evolved into the highly successful YouBike, a bicycle rental project with over 30 million users as of October of this year.
I welcome the use of bikes as a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to scooters and cars. However, I think that the YouBike so far has had a negative impact on Taipei. There are three major problems that need to be addressed:
1) the government has failed to make the population aware of the risks of riding their bikes on sidewalks;
2) as the city lacks an extensive network of bicycle paths, pedestrians now have to share the same, often narrow spaces with a growing number of bikes;
3) YouBike riders are not required by law to purchase an insurance, like scooter and car drivers do.
As you can see from the video below, some cyclists (in my experience, the great majority of them) have absolutely no sense of responsibility when riding their bikes on sidewalks. Unfortuna…

My Pictures of Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

Yesterday I arrived in Hong Kong and, despite being extremely tired - I had slept for only one hour and a half in two days -, after leaving my stuff at the hostel I immediately went to see how Occupy Central had transformed the city centre. 

However, I was way too exhausted and hungry to go to Central, so I just had a look at the Causeway Bay site of the protest, which is quite close to where I'm currently staying.
The 'Occupiers' have by now settled permanently in some limited areas, one of them being a section of Hennessy Road, formerly a bustling traffic artery, now turned into a sort of 'encampment' with tens, colourful pictures, collages and posters. Actually, Hennessy Road has never been as beautiful as it is today, and the occupation does not seem to affect shops or normal life. The only thing it has affected is traffic, but, well, does Hong Kong really desperately need more cars and pollution? 
The atmosphere is quiet right now, and very little seems to be hap…

Customer Service in Taiwan: A Day At Guanghua Digital Plaza

When I lived in Germany many Taiwanese I met there told me that service in Taiwan is much better than in Europe. "The customer is king," they often said. I heard this opinion so many times that I obviously came to believe it. Since I myself considered service in Germany and Italy - the two countries in Europe where I lived longest - overall pretty bad, I was looking forward to coming to Taiwan and experiencing an entirely new level of customer service.
I will write in another post about the myth of Taiwan's customer service. Here I will just share my experience at Guanghua Digital Plaza (光華商場) which is, I believe, the most famous consumer electronics market of the Taiwanese capital. 
I'd been thinking about buying a new laptop for quite some time. Today my old one was so slow I could hardly use it, and I decided to buy an "emergency" laptop before purchasing a better one in Europe (if you're wondering, computers in Taiwan are not cheaper than in Europe).�…

Why Hong Kong's 'One Country, Two Systems' Was Doomed to Fail

The concept of 'one country, two systems' is the cornerstone of Beijing's policy towards Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, three areas that remained outside of the control of the People's Republic of China (PRC) after the successful revolution of 1949, but which the Communist state claimed as part of 'China's territory'.
In this post, I would like to show how the 'one country, two systems' policy developed, and what contradictions it entailed from the very beginning. We will see how the reaction of the current leadership in Beijing to the 'Occupy Central' movement echoes Deng Xiaoping's understanding of 'one country, two systems', and that some of Hong Kong's pan-democrats are wrong when they claim that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is betraying Deng's promise to grant the former British colony a high degree of autonomy.
Taiwan and Two Systems in One Country
After Deng Xiaoping rose to power in the late 1970s, he abandoned Ma…