Hong Kong: Commercial/Genuine

May 15

Let’s go to an island.

Yes, outside Hong Kong’s central areas provides yet another outfit in the wardrobe of life here. And on this day, circumstances allowed me to witness extremes of both the commercial and the peaceful. It was great for travel, and now it’s great for a blog post. :)

Join me.

Cheung Chau is the island’s name. It caught my eye because of its celebrated history and traditions. One event of theirs commemorates the fending off of pirates. For it, they go vegetarian for a week–even the McDonalds takes meat off the menu! I was attracted to this display of culture and connectedness to the past.
Perhaps because it’s in stark contrast to the glamor and sterility of some other areas of Hong Kong.

And as if set up by cosmic forces, making this contrast as glaring as possible, I came upon such a sight on my way to the ferry port the very morning I was headed to the island. A row of designer shops were the floats in a parade of luxury and the paraders were the eager shoppers from all over China who came to shop in Hong Kong this holiday weekend:

Busy, busy, busy. Lines were formed outside as doormen let in a few at a time.

I’ve never known the world of wealth. But apparently, several are part of the club. And like the lines outside of Walmart during holiday season, the wealthy have their fixes and fads, too. Gosh, I thought, one of these fads must be Gucci and their 4-digit priced hand bags.

Another thing that crossed my mind is that many of these consumers are mainlanders–where the American capitalistic desires are scorned by official outlets.

And it turned out this was just one of many stores. Next door was this:

I never knew Prada wearers to be shy. Wait a minute. I've never known a Prada wearer.

And next door to it:

You get the picture.

But, hey, it was nice to see a down-to-Earther, hob-knobbin’ with all the rich folk in line:

Try getting away with this a country club.

Oh, but enough of the hoity-toity. I wanted the genuineness of island life. And at the ferry pier I saw I wasn’t the only one:

C'mon kids. Let's have a family day.

When the boat arrived, the group moves toward the boat with a herd mentality:

Soon enough, we were settled in:

On board

And a quick video of it, as well. :)

Soon, we were at Cheung Chou Island.

Entering the bay.

I landed, kissed the dirt, and I shoved a Minnesotan flag right in the ground. “I proclaim this land!… Oh wait, others got here first.”

So okay, the genuineness I spoke of had to wait a minute as the shell of tourism crusted the outside of the island.

But indeed, in its interior, the island provided some really real realness. 😉

Now time to go find it.

The first place was a temple. I don’t know what it is about these places. You walk into the cool, wood/brick, open-built structure with the stillness of stone-carved sculptures. The natural light, the incense, the faces looking down at you–my soul is both at attention and at ease. The air is rich with an enriching solemnity. I get this same feeling walking into an old cathedral. I’m not sure what does it, but boy, it feels nice.

A counselor (or fortune-teller?) helps out a young couple.

After the temple came the beach. This was a nice little surprise:

And though it wasn’t the best beach on Earth, it was clear, clean waters–something Zhuhai lacks. Yes, my city in China has its littering issues. Here, though, all that was “littered” were little clams that locals were sifting through the sand to collect.

Like this big girl:

Looked like a kid in a clam store.

I even sat down and played clam farmer with them. Here was my clamming partner:

He knew where to get the good ones.

After getting my fingers dirty, I brought a few over to the clam queen, but she kindly set them back down on the ground as they were too small. Oh well, there’s always next season.

Right, girls?

That's right, Brandon!

From here I headed into the island’s interior. A similar, but different calm from that of the temple is waiting for you when you enter the realm of the natural:

Here was that genuineness.

There’s always a creek in a perfect woods, acting as the forest artery. It was hard to believe that this sizable plot of land was so close the gigantic buildings and designer shops of Hong Kong. I assumed this raw land to be worth a fortune, but yet, there was what appeared to be a homestead in the middle of all this natural action:

Living off the land, it appeared.

Soon after the peace of this forest trek, it was time to head back to the activity (and in some ways, the obliviousness) of fast-paced Hong Kong life. This morning I saw folks wrapped up in consumerism; the rest of the day was about the richness that avails even the poorest individual. It was a day of extremes.

This is the beauty of a wealthy place. It allows for a stretched potential of who we can be. And I think most can agree that a wide variety of offerings is a positive thing.

And with that I say goodbye to Hong Kong for now. I’m back in Zhuhai and looking forward to new posts that I have in store.

to new plateaus,



Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Culture, Society, Travel

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