Four things environmentalists can learn from Hong Kong

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So my three and a half years in Hong Kong are up and I’m wending my way back to the UK tomorrow via the Silk Road over the next four weeks. In my work here, I often suggest environmental policies from other countries that Hong Kong might adopt. But knowledge transfer has traditionally wafted the other way, from East to West. So I thought I’d use my last Hong Kong blog to about what Hong Kong can teach policy makers in the West.   1.   The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) Now carrying around 5.79 million passengers a day in Hong Kong […]

Train trips in India and China

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Economics, Environment, Politics, Technology, Travel

Christmas and New Year was spent in India attending a cousin’s wedding and a nephew’s thread ceremony. It’s always fun going back to the country of my birth. I love the food, the music, the great value for money and energy of the place. But It’s also depressing seeing how slowly it changes. India’s stagnation was made even more evident, when six weeks later, I visited the beautiful town of Guilin in Guangxi. Arrivals at Mumbai Airport set the tone. The automated fingerprint check, designed to streamline entry into the country, bureaucratically first demanded two thumbs, then four right fingers, […]

Hangzhou and Disruptive Technology

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Economics, History, Technology, Travel

Hangzhou is regarded by many Chinese people as the country’s most beautiful city. Its Xili (West Lake) is garlanded by stunning villas that have inspired artists and poets for centuries. Its delicate pagodas are filled with newlywed couples spooning over the water. The lake’s sub-divided waters are criss-crossed by delicate stone and wooden bridges and garrotted by a 3km grassy causeway. Around it but within the city’s boundaries are lovely restaurants, mountains, many excellent museums, rice fields and tea plantations all easily accessed by bus or bike. It’s always been famous within China and was even briefly capital during the […]

Vladivostok: the edge of the Belt and Road

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in History, Politics, Travel

Vladivostok is a city of 600,000 in the Far East of Siberia. Russia grabbed it opportunistically in 1860, back when the Qing Empire had been enfeebled by the Opium Wars and the vicious Taiping Rebellion that left 20 million dead. Russia quickly consolidated its grip expelling the Chinese and transferring people from Ukraine and Belorussia: first by land and ship and by rail once the Trans-Siberian Railway was built. Even though it’s only a stone’s (or perhaps a Scud missile’s) throw from North Korea, there’s no hint of the East in the local gene pool. Lonely Planet calls it San […]

Cycling holiday to Kaiping

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I spent Easter holidays cycling in Kaiping, Guangdong – a city of 0.7 million which was scarcely known by anyone at work. China is a hierarchical place and cities are categorized as tier 1, 2 or 3 depending on their significance. Kaiping is less a tier and more an illegal extra floor. When I told my co-workers about my plans they feared for my life. Hong Kong is such a safe place it has warped people’s concept of danger. So far this year HK has had two murders, 12 suicides, and one Darwin Award entrant short-listed for falling 400m off […]