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Going to Taiwan is no longer a dream for Chinese

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

It is coming true in year 2008!

I have been longing to go to Taiwan for a long time, especially when it was not possible for a common Mainland China citizen in the purpose of tourism. Now it is possible, after the talk between two parties across the Taiwan Strait on Jun 12-13 2008. Chinese government approved 1,000 daily visitors to Taiwan as an initial quota as the result of the talk which has been disrupted for 10 years.

Reason 1: It is said that Taiwan is the place that preserves the traditional Chinese culture the best, maybe on the planet. I grow up in a reformed Chinese environment in Mainland where we no longer use traditional characters or study Confucius at school or home. Taiwan is different from Hong Kong where Britain has influenced  for 100 years or China Town in New York where it is in an isolated region: Chinese culture can preserve but can’t develop. I want to see what is this society like that preserved Chinese traditional culture and have moved on for around 60 years.

Reason 2: Taiwanese food! Taiwanese food is a kind of more dedicated (as Japanese food), fusion and creative Chinese food. So I don’t really care about the sightseeing if I can have great Taiwanese food!

Reason 3: The treasures in the National Palace Museum. It is said the exhibits in the Forbidden City in Beijing are left-over by KMT in 1949. The best of the best are in Taipei.

According to analyst, the new tourism policy will bring at lease 2 billion USD revenue to Taiwan when the quota is tripled from 1,000 people per day (365,000 a year) to 3,000 people per day (1.1 million a year), which is estimated to come true in 2010. This number was 86,000 last year.

In general, Taiwan is not a hot tourism spot. In 2007, there were only 3.7 million foreign visitors to Taiwan, half of whom were for business or relative-visit. But the number for Hong Kong was 28 million with 15.4 million from Mainland. Average hotel room price in Hong Kong was 156 USD/night in 2007, but it was only 105 USD in Taiwan, which is believed to be the lowest in the Asian Hospitality Industry.

I am dreaming some day soon I can flight directly from Mainland to Taipei without a stop at the third country or region.

Taipei 101, the icon of Taiwan

Thank Coolmitch for the splendid image of the landmark/icon of Taiwan: Taipei 101.

Shanghai World Financial Center is going to be completed!

Friday, June 13th, 2008

The new Shanghai landmark is going to be completed:

Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC)

A closed look at the top. it is going to be completed.

Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC)

Take a look at it in last Dec. here.

Deciding which island to go in Hawaii…

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

A friend of mine is asking for my advise on which island to go for a vacation as she knows I enjoy doing the trip research. June 17 2008 will be the day that Chinese tourists can land in US with a legitimated “leisure travel” visas, although the visa type is not going to change. (see my previous post here.) Hawaii is the first travel destination in US coming to our minds when thinking a vacation which in Chinese means “spending the holiday/non working day”.

Oahu (瓦胡岛): Oahu is where Honolulu is on. If you are not taking a cruise to Hawaii, fly to Honolulu is probably one of the best options. It is the capital city of State of Hawaii and the hub of Hawaii. I can imagine everything is more convenient in a more developed city, and there are more man-made attractions/landmarks/museums here: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial and USS Bowfin Submarine – all are about “not-to-be-missed” military history – a family friendly island. Oahu is good at containing resorts in a single area – Waikiki. Outside, there are only 4 resorts. which is a good news for people have headache in planning where to stay.

Kauai (考艾岛): Kauai is the shell-shape island on the northwest corner of Hawaii. Its interior is mountainous with depply eroded valleys and large plains around most of the coastal areas. Travel guidebooks say it rains a lot. Looking at the map, there are freeways around almost the whole island. Kauai airport is in Lihue. You can find places for hiking, scuba diving, swimming and snorkeling on this island. My favorite dream activity is to swim in the Queen’s Bath and treat myself as a Queen.

Big Island: Big Island of Hawaii is the biggest island of the state, it lies on the southeast and it is the most far away island from Kauai. If Hawaii is famous of its volcano, then Big Island is where you should go to see how the islands are born. Hawaii is the name of this island as well as the state. Hawaii Volcano National Park offers more to see and you will be very lucky if you see the flow of lava. See my previous post about Hilo beaches.

(thanks Sang for the image)

Maui (毛伊岛): Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii. It has the reputation of being pricey. Most activities cost more $$ here than on other island. Be prepared for the fact that “spending time on the island is spending money”. Most of the resorts are on the west and the south, look for names like Lahaina, Kapalua, or Kihei-Wailea when planning where to stay. Beaches and waterfalls are what you can enjoy the most (to avoid spending a lot of money).

So the first thing to plan a trip to Hawaii is either pick a city (e.g. which you can get a discounted air ticket or resort stay) or pick an island. Generally, you can do most of the water activities on any of these islands. One other non-typical things to do is to hunt  a vacation home on the islands as investment. Oahu real estate is a local agent help people buy and sell homes, they have branches in Kauai and Big Island as well. Its website provides a searchable database to allow buyers to look for homes before making contact.

A foreigner friendly budget hotel in Beijing

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I had a trip to Beijing about two weeks’ ago and stayed at a hotel called TravelerInn Huaqiao Hotel (旅居北京华侨饭店) that might has the same density of foreigners as other 5 stars Beijing Hotels.

This hotel is located northeast corner of the Second Ring Rd. in Beijing. It is 10 minutes walk from Beixinqiao Subway Station on Line 5 or 13 mintues walk to Lama Temple Subway Station on Line 2. During our stay in the hotel, I saw more foreigners than Chinese and was pretty sure it was FULL. Why it is so popular?

Well, designed Liang Sicheng, one of the best Chinese architect in 1950s, it offers a very different feel than other modern hotels you will stay in the cities. First of all, it is in hutong area. You will have to walk through a narrow lane (a.k.a hutong) before you see the well decorated hotel surrounded by old houses. The walk offers you some real images of lives of Beijing people. Second, the whole building is in Chinese style, from the yard/garden to the overall color. I enjoy the lobby design a lot: red and green in harmony. Third, if you pay attention, you will notice there are some very important neighbers. China Red Cross HQ is on one head of the hutong, the home of a General who was an important character in the wars around 1930s is next to the hotel.

The people in front desk can communicate in English very well. And I aslo see tours from Europ so I guess CS can speak more than one foreign languages. As we checked in at 8am, earlier than usual, they didn’t have the room I booked, they gave us a free upgrade from Dulex Room to a HUGE Suite for RMB 498/night. This was the biggest bonus at this stay. The interior of the room is pretty the same as regular budget hotels. The last renovation was in Sep. 2007, everything looks fine. Recommended for: family vacation and budget travelers. See more images here.

I stumbled to some Zurich Hotels from as I am curious about the hotel rates in European cities. The webiste is user friendly, its design looks good. But the best price is EUD 83/night for a single room in a 2 stars hotel in a entertainment district in Zurich, Switzerland. Hmm. pretty expensive. Maybe Switzerland is the last country in Europ to visit if you have a very limited budget. Soccer fans have suffered from not able to get visas to see the recent Europ Cup recently.

Hotels in Hong Kong? Carlton Hotel Hong Kong is amazingly attractive to people who want budget trips: only EUR 27/night in Tsim Sha Tsui. Want to check out next time I am Hong Kong.

19 Years’ Ago on Today

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Thanks to elliottng for his post of  Memories of Hong Kong in June of ‘89 on CNReviews, he reminded me the important day (today) in 19 years’ ago 1989. It may be the most historical event in my life so far although I was too young to fully understand what and why every thing have happened.  Even today, I still don’t fully understand the cause and result.

But, I was lucky enough that when I went to graduate school in Hong Kong in 2001, I was able to access all kinds of information (texts, images, video) from Internet and learned as many as I can about this historical event. Student Union of my college in Hong Kong has special memorial events on this day. They have been doing the similar thing for more than 10 years when I first experienced it. I know local Hong Kong people may get used to it (as they have been staying at the campus for 1-4 years). But people like me, from Mainland China, I felt more respectful to Hong Kong  for its openness and tolerance.

I have asked my couson who is born in 1992 if he ever knows about this. He doesn’t, as this historical event is not yet in History class; and in really life, he doesn’t have any channel to learn a word about it: TV, newspaper, Internet. No media is pushing this to readers or audience unless you are driven by strong curiousity and dig online + you can understand at least one language besides Mandarin. I’ve aslo asked my interns (all in colleges now) who are born in 1985 or 1986. Only one of them knows it.


Thank SDVC for the image.