BEHIND THE LINES: Smog PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 11:00

BY BOB JALDON

 

HONG KONG — Thirty years ago, I entered this city from mainland China via Guandong (Canton). There were no rapid trains at that time, just slow moving locomotives. Hong Kong has dramatically changed since that time, except for the smog from mainland China due to excessive mining and heavy industries. One can hardly see the Hong Kong skyline at daybreak. You can’t even see the moon or the stars at night. Thirty years ago, the only attractions were probably Victoria Peak and the Giant Buddha in this they call “Asia’s World City.”

A bus tour will take you to the ladies’ market (this is the hub of shoppers haggling for cheap apparels), Man Mo Temple, Wetland Park, Ocean Park and, of course, Disney Park (not as awesome as Disney Land in Anaheim). The high-end shops are located along Canton Road (Hermes, Prada, Chanel, etc.) while most of the Fuklook jewelry stores and budget motels and hostels run by either Indians or Filipinos are found along Nathan Road.

Many of this Cantonize-speaking city have changed — from the Kowloon side to the Hong Kong territory once managed by the British. From the harbor of Kowloon you can experience nightly the magnificent light show from Hong Kong’s skyline that lasts for 15 minutes. Tourists gather here to witness the spectacle emanating from the imposing Hong Kong buildings.

Food is very expensive for budget travelers (like me). A bowl of pork rice, for example, will cost you from HK$75 to HK$120, depending on which district you’re eating. Bottled water costs HK$10, while soda costs HK$9. Ah, yes. If you’re caught smoking in no-smoking zones, the fine is HK$6,000. Spitting (something inherent to Chinese) in public places is penalized by a fine of HK$1,500.

You can easily notice the difference between visiting Chinese from the mainland and residents from Hong Kong. The latter are smart dressers. It’s probably the British influence in them. On weekends, our OFWs flock to eaither Victoria Peak or other parks. If you’re a slow walker, there’s a caution sign that says “Beware of Vehicles”. You see, when the green traffic light flashes, cars and buses run at top speed, ala ‘fast and furious’. I kid you not.

Over all, it’s an expensive place to be in

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MACAU — It takes an hour to reach this former Portuguese territory from Hong Kong via the water jet craft. In 1550, the Portuguese reached this trading gate. The Roman Catholic church also sent their best missionaries to Macau to continue the work of St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit.

Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China since 1999. (Is the ARMM or the Bangsamoro Political Entity any different?) Where do we go in this small city other than its bustling casinos? Pou Tai Un to see the statue of Buddha; Templo Pequeno de Kun Lam; the Estrada de Sete Tanques describing the lifestyle of Macau residents; Casas Museu de Taipa; Chapel of St. Francis Xavier; the Museu de Historia da Taipa e Coloane; and the most popular tourist attraction - the St. Paul’s ruins. Before reaching the ruins, you’ll walk though an “eskinita” that will remind you of Ongpin street in Manila where they sell fish balls, lobster balls, preserved beef, pork and chicken, noodles, etc.

If you’re a gambler, you can choose your wildest — the casinos is Cotia or the one located at the old Macau.