Shenzhen’s Window to the World (Shìjiè Zhī Chuāng), alternatively Shenzhen Miniature World, is not only a place for locals who have not been able to venture outside the country. Rather the contrary, the 480,000 square meters of land attracts tourists from all over the world. The only obstacle to endure at the park is deciding where to go first! With choices of monuments and jungles, dances, songs and comedies, Mexican food and international shopping: one day here would not be sufficient! Built in 1994 at a whopping 650 million RMB, the theme park encompasses over 118 vivid replicas of well-known sites from around the world. The most notable would be the momentous 108meter tall Eiffel Tower. And for 20 yuan, a breathtaking view of Shenzhen and Hong Kong can be seen atop the Tower. After a 50 yuan taxi ride to the Shilong train station, a total of 100 yuan and about one hour will bring a traveler to Luohu, Shenzhen and a 5 yuan metro ride to the last stop, Hua Qiao Cheng, will finally bring them to the park. Being that all the signs are in both Chinese and English – providing another attractive quality – it is easy to follow what appears to crowd the size of a small village around a corner, through exit B, and up an escalator to the street. Exiting the station, a pyramid resembling that in the Louvre will appear, and the sounds of clicking cameras and water fulminating in sync with laughter will perk one’s ears. The unseasonable smells of
KFC wafting through the air will consume one’s nostrils and a smile filled with wonder will begin to fold on one’s cheeks; this is to arrive at the splendors of the past. For the romantic, there is a European fairytale. Here, enchanting orchestras of Mozart, Beethoven and ostentatious French music lulls one as he or she walks along the stone pathways to the richly and accurately engraved Arc de Triomphe – if only there were mimes along the street, it would truly be like Paris! From the holy and venerable St. Peter’s Cathedral of the Vatican City to the London Tower Bridge – naturally with Big Ben standing proud – this park’s a crowd favorite. Comforting head nods or slight smiles with another foreigner will make one feel at home literally anywhere in the world; one Indian family acknowledged another American as they enjoyed Russian dancers entertaining a massive crowd. Now this is not common in China! Another lure is at the Alps, where the steamy sun of Southern China is no match for the snow and ice! Comparable to the indoor ski slopes at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, even a curious novice can attempt the Alpine Ski run. Then the curious child within the bold and brave explorer of Northern Europe will be thrilled in Holland; sprinkled with windmills, it looks like the Land of Oz. Last but certainly not least, dear Americans, if there is no place like home, New York City is represented in all its grandeur. Even the bellowing powerful rumbling of Niagara Falls and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon are replicated. With tall tales of journeys around the world, a visual feast of cultures on stages throughout the park, skiing, boating and climbing and feeling like an actor in a Bollywood movie song, a stunning sunset completes the day…and a soothing train ride back to Dongguan is as easy as a trip around the world.
Sabina Bhasin certifies the global village at
window to the world
HERE! DONGGUAN | juLY 2008
“French music escorts one along the stone pathways to the richly and accurately engraved Arc de Triomphe – if only there were mimes along the street, it would truly be like Paris”
Greg Lypka discovers the
“When pressure at work or the heat and humidity of DG are just too much, a day of sand and surf at one of Shenzhen’s beautiful beaches can be done with a tightly scheduled beachgoer back in time for dinner”
shenzhen peninsula (okay, it’s possible that someone was there before him)
Being near the ocean has more benefits than just in terms of exporting for Dongguanganites. When pressure at work or the heat and humidity are just too much in DG, a day of sand and surf at one of Shenzhen’s beautiful beaches can be done with a tightly scheduled beachgoer back in time for dinner.
but don’t bring anyone afraid of a “rustic” experience or a squatter. A better option for those not looking to “rough it” so much are the double storey, modern cabins on Dong Chong, and for anyone not wanting to risk culture shock, The Dong Chong Hotel is available in Nanao; you can call 0755-84420777 for reservations.
Shenzhen is home to many beaches; Da Mei Sha is a good choice for those that want to see the ocean in the morning and get some shopping done in the afternoon. But for those seeking solitude and natural oceanic beauty, Xi Chong and Dong Chong Beach are just a short ride away. Located on the Dapeng Peninsula (Da Peng Ban Dao) near the city of Nanao, the beaches’ big activities are surfing and scuba diving, typhoon season being the dividing factor for which one is more popular at the time.
For more information on the sight seeing tours available at Dong Chong Beach, contact 13823144831 or 075584420188. Inquiries on accommodations at Dolphin Bay, Xi Chong, can be directed to 0755-84421948 or 13699887608 (Mr. Chen), 13824397447 (Mr. Liu), or by going to www.xi-chong.com. Anyone interested in boat or cabin rental, camping, swimming or even making a fire on Friendship
Of course, not everybody goes to the beach to streak across the crashing waves or breathe underneath them, some just want to go for a relaxing stroll, or at least a few less “extreme” activities, which both areas are also great for. Xi Chong, considered one of the eight most beautiful beaches in China, is favored by the surfers and scuba divers but will give anyone just wanting to relax a smaller and more private feeling. Xi Chong’s added charms are its large BBQ area very close to the water and a KTV stage. Dong Chong is the bigger of the two and looks to be developing a storefront. There is a RMB 10 entrance fee at Dong Chong, though how often the booth is manned is unknown. The swimming hours are from 7 AM to 7 PM, and though Xi Chong is considered more scenic, Dong Chong sees much more people. A big plus at the Dong Chong beach is that it offers sight-seeing boat trips to various scenic locations. There’s a limit of 6 people per excursion, which can be either round trip or one way. Prices range from RMB 200-580 for different trips, or a price can be negotiated for the whole day. For those able to stay a day and a night, both locations offer accommodation. Xi Chong has two spots that offer small huts, one at Friendship Beach, which boasts a “Beach Reggae Party”, and also at a location down the road known as Dolphin Bay. The huts are considered “clean” by surfer standards. They have air-conditioning and a TV,
Beach, Xi Chong, can call Mr. Xu at 13502873215 or Mr. Chen at 13713919781. The huts at Friendship Beach can be rented by calling 13928916268. Nanao is a small fishing village in Shenzhen, with a growing exporting industry. It can be reached from Hong Kong via bus to Da Peng first, or the direct 360 bus from the Shenzhen Stadium. Once in Nanao, it’s suggested to get a taxi to the shoreline, which should be around RMB 10.
HERE! DONGGUAN | juLY 2008
One word summarises a day trip to Macau: Exhausting. Actually, maybe it needs a second: Invigorating. Yes, this is not a trip for the feint of heart – largely because of the amount of travel involved. It is however, very much worth it. A lot has been written about Macau, mostly relating to its burgeoning status as the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’. So, let’s try to ignore that side of things. Yes, gambling is present in Macau. It’s huge, driving the majority of the tiny island’s economy, and drawing in the majority of tourism. Thankfully, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Macau, many of which can be enjoyed in a single, if exhausting, day. Macau, for the unaware, is the first and also last European colony in Asia. Held by the Portuguese from the 16th century up until it was handed back to the Chinese in 1999, it is only now rediscovering its ‘Chinese-ness’. Do not be afraid however, the brash Westernisation found in its spiritual brother Hong Kong is not quite as prevalent in Macau. Yes, it’s there, but it’s far more romanticised, alluring and honest than the neon glow of the millionth McDonalds, Café De Coral, Pacific Coffee or tailor offering you ‘copy watch’ ever will be. Not that the tailors have a neon glow, but you get the idea. To truly enjoy Macau, one must spend as much time as possible attempting to soak up the local atmosphere, something that can be difficult to do in a mad-dash of a day trip. Infused with a distinctly Portuguese flavour (especially in the beautiful architecture), Macau manages to create a sensation inside the visitor that is certainly not easily found on the mainland, and is certainly worth searching out. If you’re a culture vulture, the Central Macau Peninsula (the main area of Macau) is home to the vast majority of churches, museums, backstreets and colonial relics, whereas the outlying islands are your best spot for active pursuits as biking, cycling and swimming. Cultural must-sees on the Peninsula include the Leal Senado (Loyal Senate); constructed in 1784, this neo-classical beauty is home to the mayor’s office and an extensive and magnificent Senate Library. Other attractions are of a more ecclesiastical nature and are certainly worth a visit to those inclined: the Museum of the Holy House of Mercy, Church of St. Dominic, Church of St. Lawrence and the ruins of the Church of St. Paul (which many consider to be the monument to Christianity within Asia) can all be found lying within the Central Peninsula. If you include two meals into this miniature itinerary, then there is a jam-packed day’s worth of sightseeing to be done here alone. If Christian culture is not your thing, then there are plenty of other sights to be seen on the island’s Southern Peninsula. There’s the Grand Prix Museum, which houses cars from Macau’s famous Formula 3 Grand Prix, the flash Macau Cultural Centre & Museum of Art, a $100 mil-
lion USD construction that is home to the territory’s opera and theatre performances, and the A-Ma Temple, an attractive temple with a high significance to Macau’s history. Also to be found on the Southern Peninsula is the looming Macau Tower. So what is there to do at the tower other than drain the contents of your wallet in the various shops, bars and restaurants (including a 360-degree café that offers some great views)? Well, that all depends on how adventurous you are. Very adventurous, you say? How about taking a dive off of the Tower – the largest bungee jump in the world at 233 metres? The Tower is home to a multitude of extreme adventures, with a 2-hour climb of the central mast’s ladder system and the ‘Skywalk X’, a rather nerve-wrecking walk around the outer rim of the tower edge, being two of the most popular ways to loosen your stomach contents. If you’re simply after a bit of serenity, the Northern Peninsula and outlying islands of Taipa and Coloane are perhaps the best areas to round off your trip or even focus your day’s attentions on. Within the Northern Peninsula, you will find the Luis De Camoes Garden & Grotto, a tranquil and relaxing series of gardens dedicated to one of Portugal’s most famous sons that is well worth a visit. Taipa Island, once a rural island devoted to duck farms, boat yards and fireworks factories, has become rapidly urbanised in recent decades. It still has its own charm however, as dotted around are a variety of temples, barque churches and other areas of interest. There is ample space for hiking and cycling on the island, too. In the south of this small island is Taipa Village, a place that has not been too tainted by the steamroller of urbanisation and development, with traditional Chinese shops and restaurants abound, sprawled between various villas, churches and temples. The restaurants here are a musttry, as they serve possibly the tastiest and certainly the most genuine Macanese food in the territory. Try the specialty of ‘Galinha Africana’, or ‘African Chicken’. A nice way to finish your trip is with a stroll across Cheoc Van or Hac Sa Beach, both located on the very nearby Coloane Island, which used to be a haven for pirates. Both these beaches have sand that is of a grey-to-black colour, but they are still very pretty and the latter offers views of Lantau Island on a clear day. If you can get even half of this done in a day trip you’ve done very well for yourself, and Macau is certainly best experienced over at least a long weekend, but for those with the get-up-and-go for a day to Macau, there is great enjoyment to be had.
Andy Cooper has a history with
“Infused with a distinctly Portuguese flavour, Macau manages to create a sensation inside the visitor that is certainly not easily found on the mainland and is certainly worth searching out”
HERE! DONGGUAN | juLY 2008
Greg Lypka wakes up at the
“For those without the skill and physical disposition to face the daredevil wakeboarding, riding an inner tube requires only a brave heart and a strong grip”
For a quick and convenient aquatic getaway, try the Henggang Reservoir in nearby Houjie. The “Mother Lake of Houjie” is a 6,000 acre reservoir with a Level 2 (out of five and on the good side) water quality ranking. Henggang can be found by taking the Houjie exit off the GuangShen Expressway and then turning on Houda Road, about 1-2 kilometers off the exit. While it may never be known when people first began fishing at Henggang, it was in 2005 that it became home to a slightly faster recreational activity. Michael Chow has been water skiing since 1966; as Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Water Ski association and former water ski champion, the Hong Kong resident has competed in racing competitions in Barcelona, Sydney and Mainland China. An old colleague of Michael’s was running a wakeboarding and water skiing service in Zhengcheng when he called him up for help. Michael, having made his living in the marine and boat part industry and as a lifelong water ski enthusiast, was brought in and got things in shape. The colleague recommended him the Henggang reservoir, and for three years now boating activities have been offered there. When asked where he gets most of his business from, Michael stated, “90% of my customers come from Hong Kong, of which 95% do wakeboarding.” As wakeboarding is a fairly new activity on the Mainland, it’s not surprising that the majority of customers are foreign. Despite the low interest with the locals, he explains the benefits of being in Houjie over Hong Kong: “There are no private waters left in Hong Kong, anywhere you go you’ll have to pay marina fees. Gas is also more expensive, and a private boat driver that costs 10,000 HKD per month I can get here for 1,500 RMB per month. And fresh water is just easier on the boats and engines than salt water.” While fortunate that his boating service is on the other side of the border, Michael is still thankful that the reservoir is close enough for him to spend his weeks working in the city and his weekends water skiing at Henggang. Monday through Friday, the lake is used for testing wakeboards and inflatable items made by local companies that would otherwise have to send them to America to get tested.
henggang reservoir 横岗水库
Fortunately, the mandate of 2003 to improve the lake’s water quality is pushing factories away from the area, leaving room for more ecofriendly, luxury housing complexes. One of Hong Kong’s top business tycoons apparently even owns property on the lakefront. Customers can take a 20-minute motorboat ride for RMB 100 and enjoy the “Miami-like” look of the lake’s high-end residents. For those not trained in the way of the wakeboard, besides the rides, tubing is also available. As wakeboarding demands a great deal of skill and physical exertion and has a rather high danger level, riding an inner tube, on the other hand, requires only a brave heart and a strong grip. There are six boats available for hire; boat rental for wakeboarding or tubing is 500 RMB for two hours. However, as wakeboarding that long straight could kill a person, if someone pays for the two hours, they’re currently allowed to stay the whole day. They provide boards, rope and life jackets, but do not offer professional lessons. A sixpoint slalom course has also been set up for traditional mono-skiing. Peak seasons are in the summer time when it’s not raining, and just after Christmas when people use dry suits to fight the cold. Michael comments on life at the lake in the winter time, “The temperature’s low, but it’s clear and sunny. We put the curtains down and have a small cooking stove to keep us warm, it’s a great time.”
HERE! DONGGUAN | juLY 2008
When I was told I was going to be going to Ocean Park, I admit I was a little disappointed; I was hoping it would be Disneyland. So the first thing I did was have a look at the website, which was very user-friendly. The directions were not so easy to understand, but I figured that Hong Kong is pretty easy to get around. So I set off at 7am on Saturday morning for the bus station. There is a direct bus to the Park from the Dongguan Gymnasium at 7 AM, and the prices for that are 430 yuan per person; this includes the toll fee and you have to pay an extra 50 yuan for the tour guide. This bus will also bring you back at 7 PM. Unfortunately, I was not up early enough on my Saturday morning to catch the bus, so I improvised. I took the bus to Luohu station in Shenzhen, and after crossing the border took the train to Hung Hom. From Hung Hom you need to take a local city bus (171) through the Aberdeen tunnel and get off on the other side. This bus is very regular, one every 5-10 minutes. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk to the main gate of the park. This whole journey took me about three hours and cost less than 100 yuan, which is not bad for those of us on a budget. The park opens at 10 AM, and even though I arrived just as they were opening, there were a lot of people queueing for tickets so I would advise buying your tickets before you set off if you want to avoid a long wait. The bus takes you close to the main entrance of the park, from which you can take a free shuttle bus or taxi to the other entrance. This part of the park is the “educational” area that includes the Dolphin University, which teaches children all about dolphins and the environment they live in. You can even arrange to feed the dolphins up close and personal, but this does work on a first come first served basis. And don’t worry about getting wet, the park provides special waterproof jumpsuits for people to wear while with the dolphins. There are also restrictions for this, you must be over the age of 8 and be at least 1,32 m tall. Also in this area is where you will find the four Pandas now living in Ocean Park. It was great to see the pandas up close and personal, munching away on their bamboo. But the huge crowds of tourists pushing and shoving to see them was a little annoying.
After seeing the pandas I decided to set off to have a look at the Jellyfish Spectacular, which I had already read about. I actually am very scared of jellyfish but decided to face my fear for you, dear readers. It was around this time that I realized that the only way to that area of the park was the cable car or the shuttle bus to the other entrance. Now, we’ve all seen or heard the news stories about those cable cars… but I was up for what is said to be an exhilarating ride. However when I arrived at the cable car building there was an hour-long queue, and no shade for the people waiting there. This would not have been so bad except it was only 11 AM and it was already more than 30 degrees outside. Plus me being a typical “English lass”, I did not have my handy little reflective umbrella with me, or in fact shorts on. So not wanting to take the risk of getting severe heat stroke, I opted for the airconditioned bus (it runs every half an hour and is free for park visitors). Once I arrived at the Tai Shue Wan entrance, I had to take the escalators up the side of the mountain, which was a little unnerving, and then walk another 20 minutes to find the jellyfish. I will say that the signs are a little confusing in the park so keep your map handy. The Jellyfish Spectacular was exactly that. It’s set up almost like a maze with mirrored walls and blacked-out ceilings. The only things you can really see are the built-in jellyfish tanks that are lit so that the jellyfish literally glow. Definitely worth a look! You can also take pictures inside. After that you follow the signs/crowds along to the shark aquarium (also worth a lot) and then on to the artificial reef. The Atoll Reef is huge and takes a good 15-20 minutes to work your way around. It takes you down level by level so you can see which fish live where. Again this is another area of the park where you will have to fight your way through crowds of tourists to get a good look, but it is worth it in the end. They also now have some ancient Chinese sturgeons in the reef, so keep an eye out for them. After you have worked your way through all the exhibits you will arrive at the rides. There are a few different rides, including The Dragon (a massive rollercoaster with views over the South China Sea), the Abyss, and the Galleon. This area is also where you will find most of the restaurants/food stands. Although you may be in for a wait if you decide to eat at the restaurants, there was a 45 minute wait for each of them while I was there. It might be an idea to bring your own food: the queue for McDonalds was longer than that for the rides!
Lisa Wilkie reconciles with jellyfish at
hk ocean park
HERE! DONGGUAN | juLY 2008
“At the Dolphin University, children can learn all about dolphins and the environment they live in - you can even arrange to feed them up close and personal“
Sabina Bhasin sees a lion at
“Going on a safari? Exploring in a monsoon? Standing 20 feet from a real, live voracious lion, tiger and bear (oh my!)? Why, yes! In a mind where curiosity reigns supreme, this zoo exists to satisfy”
Going on a safari in China? Exploring in a monsoon? Standing 20 feet from a real, live voracious lion, tiger and bear (oh my!)? Why, yes! In a mind where curiosity reigns supreme, a zoo exists to satisfy. The Xianjiang Safari Park in Guangzhou is home to these wild animals and grants visitors an up close and personal experience. The 430,000 square meter zoo is unlike any other zoo in Asia. In fact, it is the largest zoo in South China. Housing over 2000 animals, 200 of which are in exhibition, this zoo is more like an actual jungle and sincere home to the animals that coexist there rather than merely providing a display case of exotic creatures. If this has intrigued, these simple steps can bring you to ease and escapade: upon arriving in the Guangzhou Tianhe area by either train or bus from Dongguan, a metro ride to Huaxi Changlong station on Line 3 is all you need to know. Here, bright, colorful cartoon animals will lead to the bus that rests your traveling toes one last time into the Safari Park. At a ticket price of 150 Yuan per person, this park, which is divided by geographical location, offers more than one can even dream: a chance to see the world through the eyes of its most overlooked inhabitants, the animals. Inside the Asian Zone, any visitor can buy a bunch of bananas for 5 yuan and contribute to the daily dietary allotment of the elephants. Of course there is no free lunch, and these elephants being performers at the elephant show, with a simple lift of an arm even a visitor can become a trainer – all for a treat of a banana. Just be sure to keep all mice away from these gentle giants. A safari on foot allows for a more controlled expedition for the more cautious explorer. So much so that here, a voyager can learn about the Eutamias Sibiricus, or common chipmunk or even a squirrel! But the most comical and perhaps most perplexing would be the playground that is cleverly disguised as a goat and lamb display.
panyu safari park
Now for the more adrenaline-seeking crocodile hunter, a safari on wheels allows a Jurassic Park-like excursion at the park, where a cheetah, a black bear, and an African lion (to name a few marauders) can be seen through only a barrier of a metal wired fence. At the “White Tiger Hill”, only a river of water and a railing separate the predator from the prey – a rather intense experience, to say the least! Most notable at the park is the Children’s Paradise. This park appears to take great efforts to ensure the pairing of education with fun. Children can feed a cornucopia of baby animals here and discover through hands-on learning that the Circle of Life is more than just a song from a Disney movie. Also, to keep children completely stimulated, the park offers gokarts, bumper cars and various other animalthemed games at a cheap price. The newest arrival at the park, and certainly the source of great pride at the zoo, are the koalas in the Australian Zone. This show is directly aimed at children, and a lucky child can catch these sloth-like animals during their active times. If not, a massive gift-shop with stuffed-animal koalas can provide a wide-eyed look at these unique bears. From exotic birds to reverent predators, this zoo has everything, and with its own adoption program to save animals, it has a noble purpose as well. It’s a full-day adventure trek through Asia, Africa, America, Australia, and Antarctica with no land left unrepresented and no visitor left unsatisfied.
HERE! DONGGUAN | juLY 2008