Archive for November, 2012


Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Sun Yat Sen on Purple Mountain

The Shenzhen energy management company I was visiting on this trip arranged for me to check out a subsidiary (as well as some of their health care & educational facility clients) in Nanjing — & I was very interested in doing so for reasons that went well beyond energy management. I’d never been to Nanjing before, but of course was well aware of its importance in Chinese history over the past century, and far into the past. Luckily, my hosts were exceedingly hospitable, and arranged a visit to the former KMT headquarters in the city; to Xuanwu Lake, and a stroll along the path linking its islands; to Soong May-ling’s (i.e., Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s) villa on Purple Mountain; and to Sun Yat Sen’s Mausoleum on the mountain – a place I’ve always wanted to visit! (And keeping with the climbing theme of recent postings, we hiked up the 392 steps on Purple Mountain necessary to reach it.) They also arranged a visit to the Memorial site of the 1937 Massacre, a place already vivid in my mind from Iris Chang’s intense book The Rape of Nanking and Lu Chuan’s powerful film The City of Life and Death. So you can see that this was a tremendously educational visit….. and I am really very, very grateful. I’m sure that you’ll be reading more about the Shenzhen company in future postings.

On this visit I was also reading Qiu Xiaolong’s latest Inspector Chen detective novel, entitled Don’t Cry, Tai Lake. You might remember my August 2007 posting noting previous Qiu novels about Inspector Chen Cao, the gourmet/poet/police inspector from Shanghai’s Police Bureau, and this one was particularly relevant since it had pollution as a major theme in the story. The novel has some strong parallels with the real-life case of Wu Lihong, an environmental activist punished for his efforts to bring about pollution control at the chemical plants lining its shores. I’ve enjoyed all of Qiu’s novels in the Inspector Chen series, and found this to be one of his better ones.

Hong Kong & Shenzhen

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

A visit with an energy management company in Shenzhen in October gave me an opportunity to stop over in Hong Kong as well – and it was really great to catch up with folks there once again. Christine Loh, Hong Kong’s new Undersecretary for the Environment, arranged a ten-person gathering for lunch, and this was followed by a meeting (arranged by Hannah Routh at PwC) that quickly became known as “the geeks’ session,” allowing for a more technical discussion about HK’s environmental situation & options.

I stayed in Kowloon on the latter part of this visit, & that also presented an opportunity…. to visit Chungking Mansions! This is a place with a somewhat shady reputation in Hong Kong – not quite as bad as the Walled City I mentioned in my August 2007 posting, but certainly not high on a list of the city’s touted tourist sites either. The anthropologist Gordon Mathews has written a fascinating new book entitled Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong, which describes the Mansions as sort of a ‘Grand Central Station’ for low-economy globalization – the place where traders from Africa, S.E. Asia & other developing regions of the world come to buy large quantities of mobile phones, electronics, watches, and other goods manufactured cheaply (& often surreptitiously) in Mainland China. I’ve passed by the Mansions on Nathan Road many times, of course, but took the opportunity this time to actually wander around in it, informed by Mathews’ book. I also put Wong Kar-Wai’s well-known movie Chungking Express on my movie queue again, since a significant portion of the film takes place there. [Note: I’d forgotten how well that movie – almost two decades old now – captures the frenetic energy of not only Chungking Mansions, but of the city itself….. and with its homage to French New Wave cinema & other influences, it’s really a great way to spend a couple of hours!]

Kowloon arrival on Star Ferry

Staying in Kowloon also gave me an excuse – as if one was needed!! — to ride the Star Ferry once again. This trip’s photo shows a nighttime arrival in Kowloon, the exact opposite of the daytime landing in Wanchai in my July 2010 posting.