Archive for the Tourism Category

Confucius hometown offers free tours for Analects-quoting foreigners [Xinhua / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]]

Posted in China, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, Tourism, UNESCO heritage sites / intangible heritage on March 8, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Here’s the Confucius quotes I would use, they are some of the pithiest:

#1. 2:12 “The noble person is not a tool.”

#2. 4:16 “The noble person is concerned with rightness; the small person is concerned with profit.”

#3. 15:38 “In education there should be no class distinctions.”

#4. 15:23 “[Reciprocity]…what you do not want for yourself, do not do to others.”

#5 17:19 “The village paragon is the thief of virtue.”
[from “Sources of Chinese Tradition Vol. 1”, comp. by W.T. deBary & I. Bloom, Colombia Univ. Press, 1999.]

JINAN, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) — Foreigners who can recite five famous quotes of Confucius will be given free tours to his birthplace, according to a new policy by China’s Qufu City aimed at promoting the wisdom of the ancient philosopher.

The city in east China’s Shandong Province says from Friday foreigners can get free tickets for its three Confucius-related UNESCO World Heritage Sites if they can recite five sentences from the Analects, or the Analects of Confucius.

The Analects is a collection of famous sayings of Confucius, a philosopher and educator during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BC) whose thinking has greatly influenced Chinese cultures.

The sentences can be recited in Chinese, English or other native languages of applicants. Successful challengers will be issued a certificate of honor that will exempt them of the ticket fees at the Temple of Confucius, the Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion.

The three sites receive 150,000 foreign visitors annually, and the free-ticket policy is meant to enhance the interaction between foreign visitors and the Confucian culture, said an official with the Qufu’s cultural heritage administration.

The city rolled out the policy for Chinese tourists in 2013. Since then, 170,000 people have joined the test, about 65 percent of whom passed.

Editor: An

Article’s original title: “Confucius hometown offers free tours for Analects-chanting foreigners”

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Chinese city launches bicycle tours to DPRK [Xinhua]

Posted in Changchun, DPR Korea, Tourism on May 10, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

CHANGCHUN, May 2 (Xinhua) — A border city in northeast China launched Friday bicycle tours to the neighboring Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as tourism to the country booms.

Thirty-five Chinese tourists joined the first self-drive travel by bicycle from Tumen City, Jilin Province, to DPRK’s Namyang city, said organizers. The tourists spent three hours in the DPRK.

The bicycle tour is inexpensive and only needs simple procedures, said an official of the Tumen Tourism Bureau. He said the route is expected to attract more tourists to the DPRK.

Excursions by train from Tumen to the DPRK’s Chilbosan resumed on Wednesday. The tourist train was launched in April 2012, but was later suspended.

Tumen has highway and railway service to the DPRK.

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NE China border resumes train tour to DPRK [Xinhua]

Posted in Changchun, China, DPR Korea, Tourism on May 10, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

CHANGCHUN, April 30 (Xinhua) — Tourist excursions between northeast China’s Jilin province and the neighboring Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) came back online on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Jilin tourism bureau, excursions by train from the port city of Tumen in China to the DPRK last four days and three nights at a cost of around 1,900 yuan (300 U.S.dollars).

Tourist groups can visit Chilbosan on the central coast of North Hamgyong province in DPRK, go sightseeing and sample local seafood delicacies. Travelers can stay in hotels or in local traditional houses. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Tumen is separated from DPRK by the Tumen River. The cross-border city has abundant tourism resources as it is linked with DPRK by highways and railways.

The tourist train between Tumen and Chilbosan Mountain was launched in April 2012, but was later suspended.

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Influx of mainland visitors adds fuel to HK’s political warfare [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, China-bashing, Hong Kong, Tourism, U.K. on April 7, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

(Global Times)
March 31, 2014

Mainland visitors get a schizophrenic message from Hong Kong. On one side of the streets, a political group waving national flags and blasting music to welcome them; while across the street another group yells insults and tells them to go home.

Global Times saw one such scene in a crowded shopping district in Causeway Bay. Dozens of members from two opposing political groups, the pro-mainland Voice of Loving Hong Kong and the anti-mainland People Power, yelled at each other. But it’s one that’s been repeated over and over again in Hong Kong in recent months.

The concern behind this confusing message is the rising number of mainland tourists in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). The city hosted some 35 million tourists from the mainland in 2012, almost six times its entire population.

The increasing number of mainland tourists has contributed to the city’s economic growth. But it has led to a series of social problems such as a shortage of baby formula, mothers flocking to Hong Kong to give birth and claiming residence for their babies, and unpleasant behavior on both sides, from mainlanders eating in the subway to Hongkongers flinging racist (sic) insults at visitors.

Some Hongkongers refer to mainland visitors as “locusts,” seeing them as a swarm of ravenous insects that will devour the orderly society the islands have built.

– Attitude shift –

Seventeen years after Hong Kong was returned to China, the gap between citizens of the former British colony and those from the mainland seems to be widening.

On February 16, some 100 Hongkongers from the People Power (sic) group marched through Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon, a luxury shopping area favored by many mainland tourists, calling for mainlanders to “go back to China” and demanding that the Hong Kong government take measures to stop them from visiting.

Local government officials condemned the action. “We have zero tolerance if such events happen again,” Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a press conference. “I believe such behavior belongs to only a few extremists and surely doesn’t represent the majority’s opinions and values.” Still, many mainland tourists said their feelings were hurt.

The People Power group refused an interview request.

“Hongkongers’ attitudes toward mainlanders have changed in recent years,” a Hong Kong reporter surnamed Hong told the Global Times. “They used to see mainlanders like brothers, now they see them as neighbors.”

“Their attitudes now is ‘mind your own business, don’t bother me,'” she added. Many Hongkongers see mainlanders as a burden. Mainland travelers almost emptied Hong Kong’s milk powder stock after a milk formula scandal in 2008 that caused infant deaths across the country. The SAR government eventually issued a rule that no more than two cans per person could be taken out of the region.

The Hong Kong government also introduced a “zero-birth quota” policy to stop mainland women from giving birth in Hong Kong to gain citizenship. According to official statistics, over 43,000 mainland mothers gave birth in 2011 in Hong Kong. Many Hongkongers believe this strained its healthcare system.

The increasing number of mainland immigrants to Hong Kong also has been worrying Hongkongers. Since the hand-over, an average of 150 mainlanders have moved to Hong Kong on a daily basis, about 54,000 per year.

According to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education in 2012, more than 50 percent of 1,000 respondents said they want to see a reduction of mainland immigrants.

From the mainlanders’ point of view, Hong Kong is like a prodigal son. If he doesn’t show respect to his father, he should be punished. But from Hongkongers’ point of view, Hong Kong is like a brother to the mainland, and they took care of their little mainland brother when he was financially challenged…

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Also see related article: “China urges U.S. to refrain from interfering in HK’s affairs” –

Beijing has world’s most delayed airport [People’s Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Japan, Shanghai, Tourism, Transportation, USA on July 22, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 11, 2013

Flying to and from Beijing? Bring your patience. The city’s aviation hub remains the most delayed international airport in the world.

Beijing Capital International Airport ranked bottom in the on-time performance report in June, with just 18.3 percent of commercial passenger flights leaving on schedule. Shanghai Pudong International Airport reported the second worst departure record at 28.72 percent, among 35 major international airports.

The report was released by FlightStats, a US service that tracks historical and real-time flight information around the globe.

Tokyo’s Haneda maintained its top spot, with an on-time performance of 95.04 percent.

A flight is considered “on time” if it arrives or departs within 15 minutes after its scheduled take-off or landing time.

There have been different voices from China’s industry insiders over air traffic volume as the cause of flight delays.

Civil aviation occupied only 20 percent of air traffic in China, with 80 percent of the flow for military use, while the situation in the US was the opposite, said Wang Junjin, president of Juneyao Airlines in Shanghai.

China’s air space would be crowded with just over 10,000 operating flights per day, but over 60,000 operating flights per day compete to fly in the US and could still maintain order, Wang added.

An opposing view says air traffic should not be blamed for flight delays. China’s airports couldn’t keep up with the growth of commercial aircrafts, said Zou Jianjun, an associate professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China.

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Expats reconsider living in Beijing over growing pollution [People’s Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Employment, Environmental protection, Expats in China, Malaysia, Pollution, Shanghai, Tourism on April 25, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Yan Shuang (Global Times)
April 18, 2013

The Makeevs are leaving Beijing this summer. It was a tough decision for the family to make. They’ve lived here for a decade and have grown attached to the capital’s ways, its oddities and its quirks.

But the air pollution, amid a number of concerns, finally became too much for the Russian couple after giving birth to a baby girl last September.

In their home near the East Fourth Ring Road across from Chaoyang Park, the couple stays at home as much as possible on heavily polluted days. Their air purifier runs around the clock, windows stay closed and masks are a must when they do go out.

“Beijing’s air got worse in the last year, and this winter was especially bad,” said Makeev, who runs an export business in Beijing.

The heavy smog that blanketed eastern parts of China for much of the winter triggered international attention to China’s air pollution issue, especially in the capital where some 200,000 expatriates reside.

The US embassy’s air quality index classified pollution levels as “beyond the index” several times in January. However, the official index put out by environmental authorities, which usually stands in contrast to the US embassy data, also showed in parts of Beijing that the pollution levels were too high to be read at monitoring stations.

– Staying away –

“We feel drowsy, we get headaches, we cough. We even noticed differences in the baby’s behavior, as she gets cranky and doesn’t sleep well,” Makeev said. He explained that in Russia, it’s common to spend at least two to three hours daily outside to let babies get fresh air.

Besides air pollution, Makeev also worries about food and water quality. The comfortable and cheap cocoon that lured many expats to Beijing is cracking. Rents are up, high prices are being charged for low-quality products and traffic is an ever-worsening chore, he said. The increasingly evident wealth gap is also making him uncomfortable.

In pursuit of better climate and business opportunities, the couple has decided to leave for Malaysia soon.

Makeev’s worries are shared among many in the expat community in Beijing, and the couple are not the only ones planning on leaving.

There were at least two high-profile cases of foreigners asking to be repatriated in January, when PM2.5 readings in Beijing climbed to over 800, said Max Price, a partner at Antal International China office, a global executive recruitment corporation. A PM2.5 reading over 500 is already considered serious pollution.

Price told the Global Times that a high-ranking lawyer and a senior technical professional working for two German automobile companies respectively insisted on being repatriated to their original countries and left.

“When I speak to my international colleagues, their first questions are never about how business is going or how I am doing personally. They always ask about the pollution,” he said. “It’s really something I never experienced before.”

When speaking to people as a recruiter, quality of life used to be the third question following the actual duties of the job and the salary, but now it has jumped to second on the list, Price said, adding that this mainly happens with people with families.

A lot of foreigners who are keen on staying in China are turning their attention toward second-tier or third-tier cities, as these have increased employment options and better air quality, said Price.

The recent H7N9 bird flu outbreak has also come to complicate matters.

“A lack of communication and a limited number of reports have made people fear the worse and compare it with the SARS outbreak 10 years ago,” he said, noting that these aspects are making Beijing and Shanghai less attractive than other Chinese cities to expats.

Although there is no official data on how many foreigners are leaving Beijing or tourists staying away for fear of the pollution, the Beijing municipal tourism data showed a slump of foreign visitors in February and March this year compared to 2012.

According to the statistics, Beijing saw 165,000 foreign visitors in February, 37 percent less than last year…


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“Create a positive image of Chinese tourists” – Mainland travelers flaunt backwards social habits on global stage [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Indonesia, Tourism on December 9, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Tiffany Tan and Liu Xiangrui (China Daily)
November 19, 2012

Chinese are said to be the world’s…worst tourists… Tiffany Tan and Liu Xiangrui find there is some truth to the accusation, but the situation is improving as more Chinese travel abroad.

In September, a flight carrying 200 people from Zurich to Beijing had to turn around four hours into its journey after two Chinese passengers got into a scuffle. According to reports, the trouble started when an intoxicated 57-year-old man slapped a younger man on the head for refusing to put his seat upright while a meal was being served.

“The next thing we noticed, they were both on the floor fighting,” Valerie Sprenger, a tourist guide on the flight, told a Swiss news outlet.

A crew member and another passenger restrained the older man, binding his hands and placing him at the back of the plane, where he shouted for an hour, said Sprenger. Upon landing in Zurich, police took both Chinese men into custody, and a local prosecutor fined the aggressor for “undermining the safety of public transport”.

The incident, which made headlines around the world, is another blow against Chinese travelers, coming on the heels of a survey on the “world’s worst tourists”…

…In a micro blog post that has gone viral, one Chinese television executive bemoaned his compatriots’ unseemly behavior while getting on a ferry from Singapore to the nearby Indonesian resort island of Bintan.

“The moment the gates opened, everyone scrambled onto the deck,” he wrote in an Oct 6 post. “I heard the voices of two foreigners trapped in the crowd. One asked, ‘Won’t this boat wait for all of us?’ The other asked, ‘Doesn’t everyone have assigned seats?’

“While being pushed forward by the passengers behind me, I pondered these two questions with a bit of bitterness. With tickets already clutched in our hands, what are we so afraid of?”

Efforts to instill better behavior among Chinese tourists have been going on for years. In October 2006, spurred by unflattering media reports on mainlanders visiting the newly opened Hong Kong Disneyland, the Ministry of Tourism issued manuals for foreign and domestic travelers.

The international version, titled Manual on Proper Behavior for Chinese Citizens Traveling Abroad, also sought to address complaints made online.

Among its directives are: Maintain personal hygiene (or don’t take off your socks or shoes in public). Don’t talk too loud. Treat people with courtesy and humility. Wait for your turn in line. Eat quietly. Give way to ladies, the elderly and children. Protect the environment (don’t litter, spit on the ground or smoke in non-smoking areas).

The manuals were disseminated to Chinese travel agencies, tour guides, as well as airline ticketing offices.

Now, half a decade later, the Chinese have become some of the most sought-after tourists for their eagerness to see the world – and to shop.

This year, they are expected to take 80 million overseas trips, spending $80 billion in the process, according to the China Tourism Academy. This means one Chinese for every 13 international travelers in 2012.

Their purchasing power has prompted modifications in hospitality and retail industry practices worldwide. Western hotels have begun to supply rooms with a kettle, instant noodles and chopsticks. Some have created Chinese-language websites, added a Chinese menu and provided Chinese newspapers.

Tour operators have incorporated visits to outlet stores into their itineraries, while luxury-goods stores in Europe and the United States have hired Chinese-speaking sales personnel.

But how about your typical middle-class Chinese tourists, how much has their behavior changed in the last several years?

Not much, if you ask Yang Bo, a 37-year-old tour operator from Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, who has been accompanying groups overseas since 2000.

“The thing is, we get so used to certain behaviors that we barely notice them as improper.” But Yang says he has also seen how education and travel experience have contributed to better public conduct.

Money can also mean more sophistication and better manners, but sometimes it translates into posturing, like wanting to buy items that are only for display, Yang says.

Liu Jie, 29, a foreign tour leader for four years, is satisfied with Chinese travelers’ attitudes toward hotel employees and salespeople, but says they need to show more respect for other cultures.

“Chinese tourists usually show disdain and arrogance for the customs of another country, making me feel ashamed to be their tour leader,” the Beijing native says. “My strongest impressions come from their attitude toward public order.”

People who have lived in China know that public order is not the mainlanders’ greatest strength. Jaywalking is the rule, rather than the exception. Drivers are prone to speeding and swerving. Cars park in bike lanes, leaving cyclists to pedal alongside cars, buses and tricycles.

During rush hour, commuters jostle their way onto buses or subway carriages. Screaming matches between bus drivers and passengers are common. Orderly, single-file lines are a rarity.

Foreigners who have lived in the country long enough have found themselves learning more than just the language, local arts or eating habits. Just ask 25-year-old Ana Ropot, a native of Moldova who is on her seventh year in China.

The graduate student and part-time model and actress experienced the most embarrassing moment of her life during a trip to Sydney this summer.

She was busy texting on her cellphone when she was startled by cars honking and drivers shouting at her. It was only then that Ropot realized she was in the middle of a road, in a no-crossing zone.

“I have never been so embarrassed in my life. And the worst part was that I didn’t even bother looking at the traffic light,” she says. “I guess I’ve really been here (China) too long.”

Pu Zhengzhang’s problem is, he had been away too long. The Beijing child psychiatrist, who lived in the US and Hong Kong for 17 years, says he experienced “culture shock” when he moved back to the mainland in 2009. Besides having difficulty readjusting to local work practices, the lack of consideration among people also bothered him.

The 48-year-old from Nanjing’s pet peeves include talking loudly in public, removing one’s shoes during a flight and sneezing without covering one’s nose. To avoid getting into uncomfortable situations, Pu says he avoids going to places that are “too local”.

But he still tries to be considerate in public, like holding doors open, even if people don’t appreciate such gestures.

“Even if they don’t say ‘thank you’, I’ll just keep on doing that. I don’t want to blame this culture. I want to show a good example.”

Ultimately, the person we are at home is the person we bring to foreign lands. And in 2006, when the tourist manuals were issued, experts did say it may take several generations to nurture the correct behavior and create a positive image of Chinese tourists.

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