Shenzhen/China Folk Cultures Center

After crossing into mainland China, we drove to the city of Shenzhen. Although this city was just a small village 30 years ago, it now is home to more than 10 million people. The primary industry is technology manufacturing and services, and the average age of the population is 28. (The past 30 years seem to have been China's Industrial Revolution, with many young people leaving the farms and moving to cities for high-tech jobs.)
A view of Shenzhen from Lychee Park

The attraction we spent time in here is called the China Folk Cultures Center. We were told that when this was built, they consulted with the people at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii, so I had great expectations for this site. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

The grounds were absolutely beautiful, but pretty much everything beyond that seemed to be all form and no substance. There were costumed characters representing different parts of China, but there was no interaction with them at all. Everyone in costume could wave and say "hello" but that was the extent of anything remotely interactive. There was no opportunity to learn how people in the different regions live.

Most of the buildings were miniature versions of what one might see, and the ones that were full size were just facades - with nothing inside. (Except occasionally there would be a shop or a place to eat.)

In the late afternoon we saw a traditional Chinese dance performance that was excellent and had beautiful costumes, but they didn't allow anyone to take photos. That was followed by the worst meal of our entire trip. :-/

After dinner, our buses took us to the Shenzhen International Airport for our flight to Guilin. This is one of the most beautiful airports I've been in - with huge, expansive, honeycomb-like ceilings. I wish I had taken pics of it. I saw a photo of the exterior of the airport, and it looked like a sort of futuristic airplane shape. Very cool!

Crossing the Border into Mainland China

On May 21, we left Hong Kong by bus, crossed the South China Sea, and went through the checkpoints to enter mainland China.
 Oyster farms on the South China Sea

 Besides the many other travelers crossing the border with us, I loved seeing all the different groups of school children, each of them with their own passport/travel documents.

We went through one checkpoint for exiting Hong Kong, then another, a few feet away, for entering the mainland. Our luggage was x-rayed, and we were on our way.

Trip to China and Indonesia! - part 1

18 June 2014

Okay. We've been back a week and a half, the jet lag has worn off, and I should be eager to blog about our three weeks in China and Bali — because it really was a wonderful trip!!
The thing is, I have SO many photos - and I already wrote pages and pages (and pages) in my paper journal. . .
So, once I pare down (and downsample) pics from the trip, I'll add a few to this post — and then, perhaps, I'll come back and fill in more details.

29 June 2014 - Here are a few pics from HONG KONG:
Our first day was very overcast and foggy - as seen in this view of Hong Kong from just below Victoria Peak. (You couldn't see anything through the fog at the actual peak.)
This is the set of docks where you can catch a ride on sampans - to take you to the Jumbo restaurant, or just for a ride around the harbor.

Jumbo, in Aberdeen Harbour, is the world's largest floating restaurant. Many famous people have eaten there (Queen Elizabeth and Sylvester Stallone are the only two names I remember) and it has appeared in a number of films.

There are many types of vessels in the harbor - from enormous yachts to sampans, and smaller. Some people live on the boats, others do business on them, and, of course, some are just for pleasure.
I tried to get a better pic of this woman on her boat, but the sampan we were on was moving too fast, and she saw me and turned away as I snapped this one.
Since a lot of the people on our tour were LDS, our bus driver made a special detour so we could see the LDS chapel and the temple in Hong Kong. Beautiful!

Our hotel was the Harbour Grand Kowloon - on Victoria Harbor in the Kowloon district, looking toward the South China Sea.

Our second day in Hong Kong was a free day to do whatever we wanted. Calvin Chui showed us some interesting sites (When Bob worked at IBM, he collaborated with Calvin on a project and they kept in touch over the years.) - and then Calvin, and his wife, Mindi, hosted us for dinner at the Tao Heung restaurant in Hong Kong. We loved visiting with them and, we had the best food here that we ate in all of China! We had an interesting discussion with them about how things have changed in Hong Kong since the 1997 transfer of sovereignty from the UK to China. Although they seem to believe that Hong Kong will remain somewhat independent (it's currently designated as an SAR - special administrative region), they also told us that there has been a large infusion of leadership from mainland China - in government, business, and education - and, that all of the school children are required to learn Mandarin. (Hong Kong speaks Cantonese, mainland China speaks Mandarin.) I could be wrong, but it seems to me that these kinds of changes imply a long-term plan to absorb Hong Kong into the mainland.