Hong Kong and Some More
(The Freeman) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Hong Kong is popular as a top shopping destination in Asia. What’s more, it is also a gateway for a multi-destination trip.

Recently, the Hong Kong Tourism Board hosted a five-day familiarization tour for media people from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The packed itinerary was intended for exploring Hong Kong some more.

Right as the tour group had checked in at their hotel, they were taken on a Tramoramic Tour that ushered in lovely sights of old Hong Kong. Despite the light drizzle, everyone enjoyed the city views from the open-top tram.

The following day, the group proceeded to one of the largest underground train stations in the city, the West Kowloon Station, for a high-speed rail ride to Shenzhen. It’s a multi-awarded train station that mimics the artsy and cultural vibe of the West Kowloon Cultural District.

It took only 25 minutes and the group was already in Futian Station, in Mainland China. A few things were required – the expired visa, current passport, and application form – in order to get a current Chinese visa.

Shenzhen is a young but aggressive city, established only in 1978. Now it is already in the top four cities of China in terms of gross domestic product. Formerly a manufacturing hub for clothing and electronics, the city is very modern and replete with business activities.

But most of its manufacturing plants have since been moved to another area in the mainland to curb pollution and population explosion. Now Shenzhen’s main industry is mostly financial, shipping, and e-commerce. The group’s tour primarily focused on the area called OCT LOFT (Overseas Chinese Town Loft). The five-hectare area used to be dotted with old TV factory buildings; the old structures were restored and made into art galleries, restaurants, and shops amid dense greenery and refreshing foliage.

One of the art installations at the OCT Art and Design Gallery Shenzhen; “My Spiritual House of Ink by Yue Minjun”

The group’s way back to Hong Kong was on a bus to Macau via the 55-kilometer-long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HZM) Bridge. The bridge is a pride of China as it is breaking records as the first ever combined road and tunnel sea-crossing in the Greater Bay Area in China, and is 20 times longer than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The HZM bridge consolidates Hong Kong’s position as a hub for multi-destination travel within the Greater Bay Area, which includes nine cities in the Guangdong Province and two Special Administrative Regions.

In Macau, the group had a walking tour through the sidewalk near fish ports up to the cathedral and theatre past an old Chinese apothecary manned by authentic Chinese doctors. Then in just a few steps ahead there was a change of scenery – the surroundings suddenly looked more European from the Portuguese influence. This tour was a cultural one, and so the casinos were side-tracked. And yet, Macao’s casino business is seven times bigger in terms of income as compared to Las Vegas.

Back to HongKong, the group was treated to a night at the opera. The Xiqu Centre showcased a 90-minute excerpt from a popular Chinese opera. It was meant to introduce new audiences to traditional Chinese theatre – with traditional tea and dim sum. It was a Tea House Theatre Experience for the group, a space that could sit 200 people. The performance was enchanting, with Cantonese narrative singing, wind and percussion music, and music ensemble performance.

The Xiqu Centre Tea House Theatre Experience, where audiences are served traditional tea and dim sum during the performance

On the last day of the tour, we had a walking tour at the Wan Chai area, particularly where the headquarters of Design District Hong Kong (ddHK), Hong Kong’s first creative tourism project. The project aims to lead residents and tourists to explore local history and designs in Wan Chai.

Aiming to reach a million visitors before the year ends, the collaborative efforts of The Hong Kong Tourism Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Hong Kong Design Centre are geared towards making visitors of Hong Kong experience the city in brand new way and put Hong Kong on the map as a hub of creativity, design and culture.  Patricia Segulla

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