Where to Stay

Short-term apartment rental in China

short term apartment rental in ChinaThe best way to rent an apartment for short-term in China is through internet. If you travel in China and want to stay in a city for a few days, you can seriously consider renting an apartment.First, you will have the benefit of living in a neighbourhood and hence observing the local life first-hand. Second, it is good value for money. The price you pay is cheaper than staying in a hotel but you can have all the comforts of living at home.

Take Hangzhou for instance. A clean, well-furnished apartment equipped with internet connection as shown in the photo above costs only 150 yuan per day.

Many major cities in China have a growing supply of such apartments, catering to the increasing demand in the domestic market. This has prompted the mushrooming of short-term rental websites, most of them in Chinese. So if you can read Chinese, this will be a great way for you to rent an apartment. There are some websites offering both Chinese and English versions, but the English version is much more brief.

This is a website I once used, which has a very comprehensive coverage of all the major cities in China. It has an English version, which has much less listing than the Chinese version, though.

China As It Is

Shamed in a parade

Two days ago, I saw on the TV that hundreds of prostitutes were shamed in a public parade in the neigbouring city of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. They all looked downcast and very ashamed, with heads bent down to the chest. I later learnt that in such a parade, their names and dates of birth would be announced so that the purpose of “shaming” them is well served.

This, in China, is called “a public meeting to combat and punish vice” and it is particularly popular in a city just before a high-ranking government office is due to visit. This time it was for the visit of China’s No.2 political figure Wu Bangguo to Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

The scene is reminiscent of the dark age during the Cultural Revolution where all those deemed enemies of the communist party were paraded and shamed publicly. China’s economy has progressed fast enough in the past two decades, and yet, in many aspects, the country remains the same, especially in terms of its political and social mentality.

China falls far short of a civilized country, much less a world power when it holds no respect for the rights of its people and when people themselves do not respect the rights of others. The parade of prostitutes has told it so clearly.

Hong Kong As It Is

The unbearable noise in the bus

IIt was 8am, and I was riding a bus to work. The noise belching out from the screen hanging in the front and middle of the bus compartment was so loud that even though I put on my ipod, the noise was still “noise” and it was just unbearable, especially in the early morning when I would need some quiet time and a clear mind.

This screen is part of an entertainment broadcast system common on all Hong Kong buses. Special entertainment programmes are produced just for broadcasting on the bus through this system, along with many advertisements. All the bus companies benefit, of course, from such a device. So is the private company which conceives this idea and owns the service. Who to suffer? Those having to commute on the bus and who hate noise and stupid entertainment shows.

It is hard to imagine this would happen on the tubes of London, where many commuters are seen reading newspapers, books or magazines, and the flooding of noise from advertisements and stupid shows is certainly not to happen. People will protest.

Here in Hong Kong, we keep silent, and are submerged in the noise day and night, while the bus companies and the concerned parties continue to make handsome money from the “roadshow” – the noise system they name.

I filed a complaint to the bus company and the following day, the roadshow was on as usual, and loud as usual.

China As It Is

To be free or not to be free

If not for the fact that I actually lived in China for some time, I would have no idea what censorship is like in China.

I was writing a Chinese blog in a major Taiwan blog community before I moved to live in China in January this year. To my dismay, I was not able to access my blog from China, and subsequently had to discontinue my blogging. All this was just the beginning.

Later, I found that I was not able even to access YAHOO Hong Kong. And naturally, I was not able to access online Hong Kong Chinese newspapers such as my favourite newspaper Mingpao. Nor was I able to access the online RTHK – Hong Kong’s equivalent of BBC in the UK. I was effectively being cut off from the Hong Kong media. (The reason that Hong Kong media is censored is that it has more in-dept and critical coverage of China than the state-controlled media on the Mainland China)

As a result, I started subscribing to Hong Kong’s English newspaper South China Morning Post in order to read some Hong Kong news. The censors in China don’t care online content in English. But if it is in Chinese, it will be monitored closely and in a very sophiscated way.

Coming to email, I had problem too. I could not access hotmail and gmail, but was fortunately able to access yahoo email through the English Yahoo page. Imagine I used hotmail and gmail and what a disaster it would be. Until now I am not sure why only Yahoo mail worked. Is it because yahoo has a better relationship with the Chinese government?

It must be stressed that each Chinese city has its own definition of extent of censorship. My experience refers to Hangzhou where I lived. In other cities, a different set of censored websites exist. It is a sophiscated and unpredictable system, isn’t it?

Now that I am no longer residing in China, it just feels so good to be free again.

Hong Kong As It Is Hong Kong As It Was

Farewell to Hong Kong’s Star Ferry Pier

riding past the new star ferry pier in Central
riding past the new star ferry pier in Central

Hong Kong’s Star Ferry Pier in the Central has serviced Hong Kong for 48 years and sadly, was closed yesterday for demolition to make way for reclamation and re-development, a fate that so many other sites of heritage and historial interest in the territory have been dealt. Thousands of people emerged yesterday to use the cameras/camcorders to record the last day of the ferry using the old pier. I was one of them, spurred by my fond memories of the pier and a deep sense of loss. This pier is about 20 minute bus from where I live and I used to take the star ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, so as to take in the spectacular harbour view and get some rest during the short boat ride.

star ferry pier in central, the old one
star ferry pier in central, the old one

The pier has become part of my memory about the city, my growing up and my life. It is no doubt also part of the collective memory, testified by the big crowd which turned up to memorize the loss. Hong Kong’s home affairs secretary Ho Chi Ping said those against the demolition of the star ferry are abusing the collective memory. I hope he did come in person to the ferry pier yesterday and see by himself how collective that memory is.


When the city loses its collective memory, what is left is stronger sense of isolation and alieniation among its citizens. At the same time, Hong Kong is also losing its uniqueness and charms in its quest to modernize itself to become “Asia’s World City” by demolishing sites of heritage and burying its past.