China: Shanghai & Hong Kong

shanghai_hk_charsThis is the third and final blog post about our recent tour around China. The last two stops were Shanghai and Hong Kong.

I’ve visited Hong Kong before now and I love the place. The plan was to take my family to some of the places that I’ve visited before such as Lantau Island and the Big Buddha as well as Victoria Peak.

As for Shanghai, well I was expecting some ‘sci-fi city’ and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. [Read more…]


China: Xi’an & Chengdu

xīānFollowing on from yesterday’s post about Beijing, here’s the second post about the next two stops on our China tour: Xi’an and Chengdu.

Xi’an is home to the Terracotta Army.

都-order成-orderChengdu has a well-established panda breeding center. [Read more…]

China: Beijing

BeijingA couple of years ago I spent a few days in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. I always planned to go back to China and so here I am, two years later, having just returned from a 12-day tour around China with my wife and two sons. We had a great time visiting Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Plenty of surprises along the way. We were all completely knackered by the end of it!

I’m going to publish a series of posts for each of the locations that we visited, although I will only be able to go into so much detail for each place. Looking back I can’t believe we covered as much ground as we did. Let’s get started with Beijing! [Read more…]

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year! Congratulations and be prosperous! Peace and safety wherever you are!Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Out with the snake and in with the horse. I hope you all have a successful year, whatever you have planned.

新年快乐! Xīnnián kuàilè! Happy New Year!

恭喜发财! Gōngxǐ fācái! Congratulations and be prosperous!

出入平安! Chūrù píng’ān! Peace and safety wherever you are!

Learning Chinese

Class of 2012!I’ve been learning Mandarin Chinese for a little over a year now (not counting the handful of mangled phrases I’d picked up from various martial arts over the years or watching too much Firefly). So I thought I’d share a little of the experience.

First of all, why?

Because it’s fun, it’s a challenge and getting started isn’t nearly as impossible as a lot of people think.

Yes, I find the tones difficult — measure words as well — but I’d counter this by saying that the lack of verb tense modification and a simple numbering system makes for a balanced learning experience. Here are three quick tips for getting started . . .

[Read more…]

Lantau Island and the Big Buddha

Quick blog post today as I’m now back at my hotel and waiting for the airport transfer to arrive.

I mentioned yesterday that I had wanted to visit the Big Buddha at Lantau Island, but with the announcements on the MTR that the cable car was out of action I decided to wait. This morning I walked along to Causeway Bay, my local MTR station, to see if the situation had changed. It hadn’t. Mmm, what to do with my last day…

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Kowloon and Victoria Peak

Yesterday I promised I’d be taking to the MTR. The MTR is Hong Kong’s underground railway system and a couple of people had strongly recommended that I give it a whirl.

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I’m back at the hotel after a 14-hour, 360-kilometre round trip between Hong Kong and Guangzhou via catamaran, bus and train. As a few of you know, one of the main reasons for this trip was to visit Guangzhou (or ‘Canton’ as it used to be called by early Western visitors) to research the novel I’ve been writing. It’s been an interesting and exhausting day.

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Hong Kong!

So here I am at last. Hong Kong! I’ll keep this brief as I need to get my head down for some sleep because I’m off to Guangzhou tomorrow and I have a 6am alarm set. The 12-hour flight over here was great. Better than most of the flights I’ve had to holiday destinations that lasted half the time.

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For a while now I’ve been threatening to make a trip to southern China, specifically Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Well, earlier this week I finally got around to booking my flights and hotel. I’ve calmed down a bit now, but I was really rather giddy a few days ago!

[Read more…]