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Chinese Tourists Are Tossing Their Garbage Into South Korean Mailboxes

Posted: 01/16/2015 10:00 am
korean mailbox

Written in Chinese: “This is not a garbage can.”

It’s always hard to fault someone for having good intentions, and there aren’t many other groups as derided as Chinese tourists when traveling abroad. But even when they try and do the right thing, sometimes it’s completely wrong.

This is the case in South Korea where a newspaper is reporting that Chinese tourists visiting Seoul are in the habit of mistakenly disposing their garbage into the capital’s mailboxes.

The Korean Daily reported on January 9 that the problem has gotten so bad that mailboxes located in front of the Lotte Department Store need to clean out 10 liters worth of garbage every week. Over at the entrance to East Peace Gate Plaza, the situation is less severe, with two to three liters of garbage every week piling up.

While this could be an honest mistake made by any foreign visitor to South Korea, it looks to be a particularly Chinese problem. The trash includes cigarette butts, orange peels, and opened sunflower seeds which are commonly associated with Chinese tourists.

As embarrassing as this may be, a Chinese report explains Chinese tourists may not totally be at fault. It says there is a lack of proper signage for Chinese tourists and few public garbage cans in South Korea. In fact, South Koreans are in the habit of taking their garbage home with them, or giving it to a shop or restaurant.

The Chinese report further explains that the situation in South Korea isn’t so strange since garbage cans are rare throughout many Asian countries. Lan Jianzhong, a Xinhua reporter in Tokyo, said there are no garbage cans on the streets and in parks of Japan. Chen Jipeng, a Xinhua reporter in Singapore, said garbage cans are rare in subways, carriages or on public transportation throughout the city-state.

Public garbage cans became hard to find in the 1990s in Korea after the government implemented a restrictive garbage policy to reduce garbage production. While some still argue that garbage cans are hard to find in Seoul, public trash receptacles are actually making a comeback. Just last August, the municipal government agreed to add 1,000 more public trash cans to the city in response to the high use of disposable coffee cups. This stands in addition to the 4,400 trash bins already in place throughout the city.

If you’ve never seen one before, this is what a public trash bin in South Korea looks like:

korean garbage cankorean garbage cankorean garbage binPhoto: Shenzhen Police,, thatbackpacker, blog korea


Mainland Tourists, Avoiding Hong Kong, Head to Macau Instead

Posted: 10/7/2014 9:16 am

Tourists walk past a luxury store in Hong Kong

The number of mainland tourists to Macau swelled to 1.2 million in the first four days of the week-long national holiday, surpassing the figures recorded last year as people stay away from Hong Kong as streets remain blocked with protesters.

On October 3, more than 300,000 visitors entered Macau, more than double last year’s 115,800 tourists on the second day of the week-long holiday, according to figures released by Zhuhai Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection Station and Macau Government Tourism Bureau.

Meanwhile there were 157,212 Mainlanders heading to Hong Kong on October 1, a 2 percent decline compared with a year ago, Wall Street Journal reported. China has temporarily suspended visas for tour groups heading to the city because of the unrest.

Anti-occupy protesters beat a protester in Mongkok.

According to figures released by the Hong Kong Immigration Department, 165,685 visitors from mainland China arrived in the city on the second day of the national holiday, a 70 percent decline from last year. It’s a “very low percentage during the Golden Week,” wrote Shenzhen Evening News on October 4.

Pro-Beijing Chinese newspaper Ta Kung Pao said the protests have brought instability and financial losses to the city. ANT bank estimated the protests cost the city HK$2.2 billion of losses in retail, the newspaper reported.

Photos: Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty ImagesTyrone Siu/Reuters



Piles of Money, Not Tombs, Now Top Attraction at a Beijing Historical Site

Posted: 08/19/2014 2:02 pm

ming tombs pile of money filial ancestor worship The Ming Tombs are a regular stop on any tourist’s visit to Beijing, probably as a stop en route to the Great Wall of China. But while the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty, as they are officially known, as a tourist attraction unto themselves, there’s now another reason to visit them: the piles of money being left behind by visitors.

Pictures taken on August 15 show parts of the UNESCO World Heritage site completely covered in currency, most of which are 1 yuan or 5 mao notes. Visitors to the underground tourist attraction have been leaving behind money as a way to “pray for blessings”. It’s a phenomenon that continues to grow as staff refuse to handle the offerings besides sweeping them into a large pile.

ming tombs pile of money filial ancestor worship

At first glance, this may appear to be the Chinese-equivalent to a Western wishing well or fountain, but several cultural factors make this something quite different altogether.

Ancestor veneration is a major part of Chinese culture in which filial piety can be demonstrated through interaction at a grave. Commonly performed on Qingming Festival, graves of ancestors are swept clean and offerings are given as a sacrifice. Not many Chinese can count a Ming Dynasty emperor as a related ancestor, but many do consider such kings to be “fathers” according to Confucian theory. While kings don’t exist in China anymore, ancestor veneration still does.

And while the report calls the act of offering money to the tomb as “praying for blessings”, it is less a spiritual or religious act as a superstitious one. With the importance placed on fate for many Chinese, the concept of fortune is often contested, especially in the form of luck.

ming tombs pile of money filial ancestor worship

By providing a sacrificial offering of one yuan, visitors to the Ming tombs can show their filial worth while stimulating their own luck.

As the size of the offerings become overgrown piles of cash on the floor, it’s very likely that they’ll stay that way. As offerings to the dead, this money has become the property of the tomb. Anyone considering taking even just one bill will risk instigating the other half that makes up Chinese superstition: evil spirits. Even if the authorities don’t catch you, the supernatural powers of ghosts may still get their way.

Netizens weighed in on the issue with their own opinions:

ming tombs pile of money filial ancestor worship

Do you really think an emperor would respect an offering of one kuai? You ought to directly throw your bank card with your monthly salary at it along with your password on it. Now, that would be appropriate, and this way the card can be updated with a new balance each month.

Proposal: Firmly against any countrymen that throw money wherever they go.

Don’t worry, wait until nightfall when the scenic area management will take it all away.

This isn’t respectful towards the dead! Just what are you doing, throwing money at their resting place?

On another day, everybody come over to the spot behind my house, I’m setting up a place where you can pray for blessings.

ming tombs pile of money filial ancestor worshipPhotos: China News


Mainland Passengers “Occupy” Hong Kong Flight in 18-Hour Protest

Posted: 06/24/2014 8:37 pm

hong kong airlines flight hx234When your flight is cancelled, then that’s it: you’re not going anywhere. But for a group of mainland tourists, the decision to “not go anywhere” doesn’t necessarily have to be made by the airline.

It was 9pm on June 20, and the departure of Hong Kong Airlines Flight HX234 from Hong Kong Airport to Shanghai was in jeopardy. The air traffic control at Pudong reported bad weather and ordered the plane to delay take-off.

So the plane waited for permission to depart while still idling at its original position next to the passenger terminal. For hours. At 2am, passengers began to request to leave the plane, but it wasn’t until 3am when the captain announced the flight would be cancelled, a full six hours after the original departure time of 9pm.

At this time, Hong Kong Airlines offered its 276 passengers HK$200 in compensation, dinner and breakfast vouchers, along with a flight to Shanghai later. Around 130 of the already boarded passengers accepted this offer, and disembarked the plane. However, about 70 passengers rejected the terms, and refused to leave.

hong kong airlines flight hx234Here’s where this story takes wildly different turns depending on which side of the Hong Kong-Mainland boundary you’re on.

The People’s Daily reported that the passengers had nothing to eat or drink for the entire 16 hours, during which the air conditioning was reported to have been turned off. The paper said the airline staff also left the plane during the passengers’ protest.

This report refers to the passengers as being “detained; while the passengers were not allowed to leave the flight before it was cancelled at 3am, the passengers refused to leave the plane after 3am once the flight was cancelled.

hong kong airlines flight hx234

On the other hand, the airline states that water was provided to passengers throughout the incident, during which time the air conditioning was on, reports the Hong Kong Standard.

But it gets uglier. Passenger Mr Hua said the protesters were not seeking compensation, but rather wanted to complain about how they were being treated. But airline staff have a different story.

Stewardess Candy Tong made a post on Instagram in which she affirmed that airline staff gave food and drink to the passengers. Furthermore, Tong stated that during the delay, airline staff had lent passengers their own personal cell phone chargers. Passengers used their recharged batteries to take pictures of the flight attendants.

The following photograph was posted to Facebook with the text, “#1320 Thanks for telling me there is no food and drinks in HX 234.”

hong kong airlines flight hx234

The whole standoff finally came to an end at 3pm on the 21st — after passengers had stayed on the flight for a full 18 hours — when Hong Kong Airlines decided to increase compensation to HK$800 per passenger.

Hong Kong Airlines has experienced similar protests by mainland passengers before. Two months ago, 31 passengers refused to leave a flight leaving Bali. Back in 2011, 21 passengers refused to leave a Hong Kong Airlines flight after a nine-hour delay in Singapore. Seventeen passengers refused to leave a flight departing from Shanghai in 2012 after an 18-hour weather delay.

A “language strike” by Hong Kong Airlines flight attendants is now planned for July 1 in which staff will refrain from speaking Putonghua. July 1 is also the annual day of protest in Hong Kong, which also coincides with its handover of sovereignty back to Mainland China.

hong kong flight 234 protest

Photos: People’s Daily, Facebook


Macau Tightens Visa Rules For Mainland Visitors

Posted: 06/19/2014 5:01 pm

macau customsIf you’re a Chinese mainlander and want to go gamble in Macau, one surefire way to circumvent existing entry requirements is by entering as a transit visitor on your way to a third country—but actually have no intention of going anywhere else but the craps table.

Sorry, Danny Ocean with Chinese characteristics: the gig is up.

Macau has just announced changes to its entry requirements to deter mainland high-rollers from coming to the territory. Starting on July 1, mainland visitors holding a Chinese passport in transit will only be allowed to stay a maximum of five days, down from an original seven, according to Bloomberg.

READ: Guangdong Residents Can Now Visit
Hong Kong and Macau with Their Fingerprints

However, some critics of the plan point out that the change won’t actually succeed at what it’s supposed to accomplish. Jose Pereira Coutinho, a directly elected legislator in the 33-member Legislative Assembly, said, ”It won’t help resolve the existing problem for some mainland visitors to travel to Macau without traveling to another destination.” In other words, they can still get a lot of gambling done in the new five-day period.

The last time Macau made changes to its entry requirements was in 2008 when it shortened the maximum stay from 14 days to seven. As well, mainland tourists that re-enter Macau within 30 days of their previous stay will only be allowed to stay one day, down from two days.

Additionally, China UnionPay has promised to clamp down on illegal payments made with handheld devices in Macau gambling establishments, an amount analysts say was worth billions last year.


Photo: deltabridges


China’s Granny Dancing Invades Moscow’s Red Square

Posted: 06/16/2014 10:58 am

moscow red square dancing grannies

Guangzhou is trying to get rid of it, Sydney wants it, and now Moscow has it: China’s infamous “dancing grannies”.

Online pictures of a group of Chinese people dancing in Moscow’s Red Square have been compared to similar photos taken at the Louvre in Paris, where the culture of dancing grannies was first seen outside of China. However, in Red Square, China’s ubiquitous line dancing attracted the attention of local police.

As proud as these dancers are, they are primarily known in China for disturbing residents. Sometimes, police say they even cross into illegal behaviour. For instance, authorities in Inner Mongolia arrested 15 people who they claim used public dancing sessions covertly to enroll people into a cult.

We don’t think the grannies in Moscow were plotting anything illegal, but have a look for yourself.

moscow red square dancing grannies moscow red square dancing granniesmoscow red square dancing grannies


Photos: Ynet

h/t @MissXQ


Hong Kong May Restrict Mainland Visitors by 20%

Posted: 05/30/2014 11:53 am

shenzhen hong kong borderMainland tourists: your days of peeing on the streets and eating in the subways of Hong Kong may be numbered. A proposal has been made to the Commission on Strategic Development to reduce the number of Mainland visitors allowed into Hong Kong by 20%, reports the SCMP.

Tensions with Mainland visitors has finally drawn the attention of Hong Kong’s lawmakers. Years of “locust” references, pee controversies, subway fights, and retail favoritism have recently culminated in Hong Kong street demonstrations that have called on the government to close the border to the north.

Protestors want the government to restrict entry to mainland visitors to Hong Kong under the independent traveler plan. There were 40 million mainland visitors to Hong Kong last year, which now accounts for a full two-thirds of all inbound tourists.

RELATED: Macau Buckles Under the Weight of Mainland Tourists,
Considering Limiting Visitors

And what do you know: it seems like demonstrations do work. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government is interested in listening to “the views of the public, businesses and the tourism sector”, an overall sentiment that has coalesced into this proposal to deny entry to eight million mainland visitors.

And to ensure that the process of governing is working properly, lawmakers disagreed. One unidentified member of the council said, “Everyone [is] opposed [to] such a drastic cut,” while Ben Chan Han-pan voiced his doubt that individual mainland visitors under the plan in question are the source of the problem.

RELATED: New App Gives Waiting Times at All Shenzhen-
Hong Kong Border Crossings

Local tourism may suffer if the proposal goes through. First to be affected will be luxury stores that employ guys with white gloves who follow you around the store until you leave.

Since Hong Kong lawmakers are debating the will of the people, we can’t wait until this contentious issue is boiled down to this: Are crude manners tolerable in order to accept mainlander money, or will an adherence to introverted regionalism in fact stagnate Hong Kong’s progress?

Photo: Welcome to China


Hong Kong’s US retail invasion: J. Crew next to move in

Posted: 07/31/2012 11:05 am

One of the big benefits of living in the PRD is having access to all that Hong Kong offers just south of the border. While those in Shanghai and Beijing get their “authentic” China experiences, we’re fortunate to get the best of China where we live with the added convenience of having access to the foreign retail chains in Hong Kong, cheap electronics, and even a wide selection of books unavailable on the mainland.  (Not to mention fast and unfettered Internet when it’s needed).

For those that like to head south to pick up items unavailable up here, you’re going to like this: US fashion retail icon J. Crew is moving in.  The brand – adored by the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama – is now scouring Hong Kong looking for a place to open a flagship store.

J. Crew won’t be the first US chain to open in the territory, either.  The city has seen a US retail invasion over the past few years with the Gap having opened in Central and Abercrombie and Fitch set to open on Pedder Street on August 11.  J. Crew has over 200 retail stores in the US and Canada and believes entering Asia through Hong Kong – which is seen as a mature market – is a stepping stone to further growth in China.  After all, Hong Kong has a strong combination of local consumers and 42 million tourists, including 28 million mainland visitors.

J. Crew chairman and CEO Mickey Drexler told Bloomberg today: “You must be in Hong Kong, you must be in Shanghai and… We need to grow quickly.”

While western brands are moving in, there are signs of a spending slowdown in Hong Kong. Figures for October 2011 showed growth of 23 per cent, but in May 2012 it tumbled to 5.8 per cent, the slowest pace of growth for 18 months.

There’s no word on when the new J. Crew store will open.

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