Sep 30 2010

China 2010

This is my second trip (since settling down in the USA) back home. It differs drastically from my first. The 2003 trip I herded my kids and tried to flaunt my hometown (they were so thoroughly turned off that till this day they adamantly refuse to visit it again). If that trip was showoff, stressful and full of struggle then this 2010 one is intimate, intoxicating and full of insightful involvements.

China, needless to say, has changed for the better. Really. IF you’re still thinking or talking about human rights and sweatshops, then you need to wise up and do some serious catch up. It’s so yesteryear. The changes occur in rapid succession. The available mass transportation that link the airports to the city centers is one of the features that I envy very much and feeling being cheated by New York politicians. Why on earth that the Big Apple doesn’t have a high speed train or light rail that connect our ancient JFK and LGA to Manhattan? I’m indignant and deeply shame every time seeing that elevated crappy track between
Jamaica and JFK. Thomas Friedman mused few years back that many Asian airports make ours look like third world .. well, China actually kicked New York to the bottom of the third world.

But .. the software just isn’t there, yet. MagLev travels fast. The overall progress materializes fast. Even paying for meals in China one needs lighting speed – one step slower, someone on the table would beat you to it even it was your dinner or your turn. Sparkling bathrooms with censor flush but no toilet paper, or one big roll by the main entrance. (Make sure you bring a box of tissue for bathrooms and restaurants.) Somehow, I feel somewhere and someone is over reaching, like 暴发户 parvenu bit vulgar. Well, the east coast establishment thought of west coast techies vulgar too, mere few years ago.

Vice Foreign Minister .. telling foreign countries they had a stark choice between challenging China’s judicial system and developing friendly relations with Beijing .. ..

Some strong words here. China has done well .. Oh well, this trip was all about my genealogy research. I met many unexpected people; toured my maternal great grandfather‘s home where my half aunt still lives; former homes and homes that turned into public gardens; museum .. DSCN8670 (4)

some fees:

  • June 22: air Shanghai-JiNan $213 [CN¥1,320.00元: 票价 ¥1140.00元,税费¥180.00元,保险¥0.00元] 上海航空公司
  • June 28: air JFK-Shanghai-Taipei-HK-NY US$1,296, Cathay Pacific
  • Aug 12: Visa $140, multiple 6 months
  • Sept 7: US$196 flight changing fee
  • Sept 22: $170 on the spot visa to Taiwan
  • Sept 23: $105 flight changing fee

Sep 28 2010

The last day

Auntie Jennie had this tea waiting for me when I got to her apartment on Sunday. I was very humbled. There were many instances that I wanted to express my feelings, wanted to let her know that I care about her. But I never managed to conjure enough courage to get the words out of my mouth. Seeing the tea was one of such moments. .. but I chickened out by inspecting the tea in detail. I’ve never see such pretty tea, I told her. What I really wanted to say to her was she’s alone, I’m here whenever you need me; and give her a hug; to reach out to her .. ..
Instead, I said .. thank you for making it. Gugu Jennie is forever in a rush, talks fast and moves fast. Was it a valid excuse?

this is .. tea ..

another view of the tea

The exchange rate between HK dollar and RMB was .856 (864). It used to be about HK$100 for 30 RMB in the 1980s.

exchange rate between HK$ and RMB

We had lunch with her friend Xiao Hua at 正斗粥面专家 Tasty Congee & Noodle Wan. Xiao Hua has a long story too..

at the B'way Mall .. the last pic of the trip

pretty cozy


Sep 27 2010

H.K. Cultural 香港文化

Hong Kong used to be a cultural desert; errrhhh that’s beside their only culture of money. Now, their orchestra is in fine shape but they have added a ballet too, also housed in their new (new to me who hasn’t been back there since 1986) H.K. Cultural Centre 香港文化中心 since 1989 by the Star Ferry in 尖沙嘴 Tsim Sha Tsui. I took in the New Moon 月舞 (HK$120) – nothing to write home about. The small studio theater was cozy and comfortable. New York City has about 8 million inhabitants, about a mil more than Hong Kong but we support Lincoln Center and the Carnegie Hall, among others. Hongkongers have a long way to go.

Auntie Jennie still teaches. On my last day there, she had a student came for lesson. Her impatient manner (could be down right rude) with her less talented students back in Beijing still vivid in my mind. I held my breath in the living room. The student was a young woman, in her late 20s or early 30. The lesson went very straightforward in her tiny library/office/music room. The sound of Aunt Jennie teaching in Mandarin and the student repeated it orally in Cantonese before she did it on the flute was mellow. Is the student getting a Mandarin lesson as well? I laughed softly to myself. Auntie Jennie hasn’t changed much.

“My students all love me very much.” Auntie Jennie told me. “I found them jobs .. ..” Her students keep her going. When she first got to Hong Kong in 1980, she used to complain that she came too late because her peers like Liu Mama and Huang Manlu have scoped up all prospects. She found her footing now.

something was cooking at the Centre

by the Studio to the ballet

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade .. getting married !!

Someone is getting married on Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

Sep 27 2010

Shandong Hotel

This 5-star hotel is bit out of the city center. The surrounding area is spacious. Near by there is a California Club – not sure what it offers.

In the room, there is a small plastic sign on the bed saying don’t smoke .. I didn’t read it closely. Later when I talked about with friends in the lobby, they corrected me: it said No Smoking on Bed. Guess I never read. People smoke everywhere, even in the lobby.

Jogging paths ..

A piano ..

Sep 26 2010

The Sky Tower 傲云阁

傲云阁 Aoyun Ge on 133-147 Pak Tai Street 北帝街 in Kowloon is a new development after Kai Tak Airport 啟德機場 was shut down. 三姑姑 Gugu Auntie Jennie used to live in Shatian 沙田. After a recommendation from one of her friends, she went to see and decided to purchase right on the spot. She paid HK$1,950,000 for a one bedroom on 20th floor in 2003. It has a study which she uses for teaching and a balcony looking out to the pool. It sells $3,900,000 nowadays. All the rooms, kitchen and living room are really small but it’s a standard size for HK. The premise is very clean, well maintained. She pays only about $700 per month for maintenance. I’m trying to picture a condo in Queens with that ratio!

More pix on FB

Her building has 58 floors, each floor has 8 apartments. The three elevators are just not enough to keep a speedy service – long wait all the time. But I could certainly settle it just for the swimming pool !! The guard told me it’s about 35m in length.


Sep 25 2010

The Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade

Tsim Sha Tsui, 尖沙嘴 (古称尖沙头)’s waterfront is pretty. It has perfect view of Hong Kong Island, across the Victoria Harbor. The Avenue of Stars is not much to write home about but is there. Salisbury Road has many hotels and Nathan Road, the centre of Tsim Sha Tsui’s shopping culture.

so so Hong Kong .. the little sampan

like a painting? .. I did it in a split second

the afternoon hue or ..

Night Falls on Manhattan .. oh I meant Hong Kong

Sep 24 2010

The Star Ferry

I love Hong Kong’s Star Ferry. The Sheraton Hotel is just a short hop to it. It’s still very inexpensive: HK$2.5 per adult for a work day and $3 on weekends and holidays.

More pix on FB – Star Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀

an approaching ferry

Star Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀

the Hong Kong skyline from the Ferry


From the Excelsior , 2014-01-11

Sep 24 2010

Visiting a classmate

Ye Ruyin Ruby
2010-09-24 HK Ruby 2014-09-24 Ruby

Sep 20 2010

Foot massage

The Grand Lotus Spa is an upscale salon in Ningbo with few locations. I went to the one that’s next door to Sheraton hotel.

Sep 20 2010

Quan Zuwang 全祖望

史学大师 全祖望, stands by the 月湖 Yuehu, the Moon Lake. Next to it is a neat 李宅青年旅舍 Ningtown Lee’s Youth Hostel, looking out at the Tea Museum. The standard room RMB 168 yuan with private bathroom and a TV.