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Showing posts from May, 2009

A Tale of Three Cities – Part 2 三城故事-中卷

Macau is a rustic peninsula hugged by a muddy, silt-laden estuary of the Pearl River. Petite, laid-back and never prosperous, the middle sister exudes a touch of lazy Mediterrasian charm.  In the mid-16th Century, Portuguese merchants turned the sleepy fishing village into a leading entrepôt for the silk and silver trades between Europe, China and Japan. Macau’s heyday lasted until 1842, when British-controlled Hong Kong, with a deeper harbor and better-run government, dethroned the sandy peninsula as the gateway to the Orient. From then on, Macau was relegated to the role of an adjunct city of Hong Kong and would forever live in her big sister’s shadow. The Venetian Macau In the post-war era, Macau survived on revenues from government-sanctioned gambling and the sex trade, making a name for herself as Asia’s Las Vegas and a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah... _______________________ Read the rest of this essay in HONG KONG State of Mind , available at major bookstores

A Tale of Three Cities – Part 1 三城故事-上卷

Shenzhen, Macau and Hong Kong are three sisters separated at birth.  Tucked away in the Pearl River Delta, they might have been mistaken for triplets if it weren’t for the vicissitudes of history that put them on such different paths. A century and a half ago, armed foreigners came knocking on their door in the dead of night, waking the sleepers out of a national slumber.  The mightiest among the intruders, bearing the Union Jack, snatched the oldest sister in the name of free trade, not long before a Latin conquistador ran off with the middle one. Their pillage and plunder would go on for several more decades before a new enemy brought on by a divine wind opened a chapter so dark that history textbooks had to be bowdlerized. The Hong Kong Handover Luckily or not, Shenzhen was the only sister of the three spared from colonial rule. While Hong Kong thrived under British rule and Portuguese Macau carved a niche for itself as Asia’s Sin City, Shenzhen didn’t begin to co

Return of the Masks – Part 2 口罩回歸-下卷

The H1N1 virus has reached Hong Kong.  We knew it was just a matter of time but the news managed to shock us just the same. Signs of a city on full alert are everywhere and feelings of an eerie déjà vu palpable. In a place as densely populated as Hong Kong, no amount of planning or emergency drills will prepare us for an all-out epidemic.  Peculiar but somewhat understandable, the city’s response to its first confirmed case of the swine flu provides a window on our collective psyche in the post-SARS era. The temptation to offer a few of my own observations is too great to resist. The face mask has returned Take one for the team . The symbolic first case of the deadly virus prompted the government to lock down the Metropark Hotel (維景酒店) in Wanchai , where the infected, a 24-year-old Mexican man, once stayed. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, Metropark’s sister hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui rose to infamy after one of its tenants fell ill and infected 16 others. And you th