In early March of 2007 I took a business trip to Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China. Specifically, my business took me to the Pearl River delta which is in the south-east province of Guandong. While I was there for one week I tried to take various snapshots with my digital camera so others could see what the country was like. Some pictures came out better than others. Since I didn't get to walk around too much many of the pictures were taken from inside vehicles. This was a problem when shooting through car windows and being on the move. In other words, I'm not a professional photographer so don't expect perfect pictures.
Click on the thumbnails to open the larger version.
The map on the left shows the part of China I was in. The green rectangle is shown in detail in the map on the right.
I flew direct from O'Hare airport in Chicago to Hong Kong International. 15 hours on a 747 will make you appreciate those short domestic flights. Between movies they display a map of the progress the plane is making.
My tolerance for the trip lasted until we were over Mongolia. That was about 12 hours and I was ready to be done.
The geography of Hong Kong compresses the city portion to a pretty small area. No urban sprawl here. With water and mountains there is a very limited area to put buildings. So the housing there consists of lots and lots of high-rises.
Many people who come to Hong Kong come for the shopping. In a part of Hong Kong called Kowloon there are all kinds of stores where you can buy jewelry, clothing, and all kinds of other trinkets. But beware. I was walking down the sidewalk and every hundred yards or so some guy kept coming up to me and asking me if I wanted a custom suit made or if I wanted to buy a fake Rolex.
While you can get all kinds of stuff on the main thoroughfares, you can see a lot more character of the area if you venture down some of the side streets.
If you're feeling hungry you might want to stop by this place. They have an interesting mascot.
After a couple of days in Hong Kong I took a train from Hung Hom station in Kowloon to Dongguan, China. Watching through the window I could see a change in the scenery as we traveled from Kowloon and the New Territories and into China itself.
We were driven around by various hired cars and vans. The factories that I visited all had their own cars to chauffer around foreigners such as myself. My honest opinion is that the Chinese drivers are crazy. While they drive on the right side of the road as we do, the similarity ends there. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the driving habits other than it's a mad rush to get wherever you're going. Many multi-lane intersections don't have street lights and cars just stop and go as they please. The minimum allowable distance between vehicles is negligible. If a driver feels he can fit his vehicle between two others, regardless of room, he will do so. Staying within a lane seems to be optional and a double yellow line is no deterrent to passing on the left.
But it was the horn usage that is really unnerving. The drivers were constantly beeping. If you change lanes, beep. If someone cuts you off, beep. If you cut off someone else, beep. If you're on a deserted road with a car a mile ahead of you, beep. You get the general idea.
China has it's own equivalent to our interstate system.
I even saw a Buick there.
The Chinese highway patrol.
Bicycles, mopeds, scooters, and small motorcycles were everywhere. Twice I saw four people on the same motorcycle. One time I even saw a man on a bicycle carrying a mattress and two box springs on his back.
The high-rise apartment buildings weren't confined to just Hong Kong. There were plenty on the mainland as well. I saw most of these in Shenzhen which borders Hong Kong. Almost all of the buildings that I saw in China were multiple unit dwellings. Single family housing seems to be non-existant.
The Pearl River delta is really the industrial center of China. Many of those toys, shoes, clothes, electronics, furniture, and other durable goods that we buy every day are made here. Driving around reveals how many factories there are in the area. Factories in China take a different form than in the United States. Here a group of factories may cluster together in an industrial park that is zoned for that purpose. In China a factory is more like a compound. There is usually a wall surrounding the place with a gate along the street.
Within the walls are several buildings including a main office/factory building, warehouses, and dormitories. The dormitories are what really differentiates a Chinese factory from an American one. There are many people from the rural part of China that come to this area to get factory work. They have no place to stay so the factory has a dormitory for them to live in.
Here is a very common form of architecture that I saw all over the place in China. Take a multi-story building anywhere from three stories to ten stories. Split the ground floor into multiple one-car garage spaces with an over head garage door. The Chinese then put all kinds of businesses in the garage type space with the living areas in the floors above. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the types of businesses that were on the ground floor. In one building, all next to each other, you might see a restaurant, a machine shop, a hair salon, a grocery store, a clothing store, a bicycle shop, etc.
I took this photo at a factory. And you probably thought he was just a secret agent for British Secret Service.