Pearls of the Pearl River Delta…

Had a really great invitation!  Our Rector Emeritus of St. James’ Church, Taichung, Rev. Charles C. T. Chen, his wife MaryJo, son Samuel and wife Luanne (now supervisor of St. James’ Preschool) kindly invited me to accompany them plus school staff and staff family members on a wonderful trip ~ 5 days in Hong Kong 香港, Shenzhen  深圳, Zhuhai 珠海 and Macau 澳門 ~ all part of the Pearl River Delta …

A uniquely Chinese experience… ah, I loved it all!

Thursday July 18, Day 1 – meet up at St. James Church at 5:00am, all 31 of us and off to Taichung Airport for our flight to Hong Kong.  Big typhoon roaring around outside, so the flight’s rough (at least we all think so, but the cabin crew say this is a ‘small case’ ha ha!), but hey we get there in one piece, thanks be to God, and off we go!

First to the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island by cable car, then to Hong Kong Island via the Star Ferry and up to the peak and down again… shopping and night views of the harbour… what a great city, ah I love it!

Day 2 and no time to stop, off we go to the border and cross into Mainland China, Shenzhen – mainly to see the mega-city development.. and yes that is the highlight of  the day, a trip up the tallest tower – and this is the view… high-rise buildings in every direction!

Shenzhen is not exactly overflowing with historic sights and major tourist attractions other than theme parks, so we went to one of those – modeled on Interlaken in Switzerland but the highlight for me was well, the ice-cream ha ha!

Day 3 and goodbye to Shenzhen (there’s no hanging around!) for a 3-hour drive around the Pearl River Delta to the west side, just north of Zhuhai – to the birthplace of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, regarded as the founding father of the Republic of China, and a place of pilgrimage for many.

Then to Zhuhai itself to see the Zhuhai Mermaid, then up by cable car to the highest point with views of the city – and so eventually to the highlight of the day, the evening show.  This was in an outdoor theatre in the reconstructed Yuanming Palace, and showed wonderful costumes and dances from the days of the Qing Dynasty, followed by part 2 of the show which was by a lake and depicted the invasion of the Pearl River Delta by the British forces in the mid-1800’s as part of the Opium Wars.  We had idyllic Chinese village scenes and a charming wedding ceremony with singing and dancing, only to be rudely interrupted by the arrival of obnoxious British soldiers who marched over the bridge and slaughtered all in sight, accompanied by a pirate ship with shark jaws on the front…..  The special effects were incredible, and well it was very funny, even if I was the only non-Chinese in the audience lol!

The shopping part of this trip was something to behold… the trip is deliberately cheap on condition that Some Very Serious Shopping is done.  And so it was that we visited 3 places for some Very Significant Retail Therapy.  First to a tea shop where we drank copious amounts of Pu-er Tea from Yunnan in Mainland China, then to a shop selling Precious Stones, mainly jade and pearls (yes, real pearls from the Pearl River) and thirdly to the Silk Emporium.   Zhuhai is a special economic trade zone and all is tax-free made for export, so the goods were of very high quality, and so of course were the prices.  Fortunately our group bought lots of tea, pearls and silk.  And me? Well I escaped outside to buy hmmm, well, ice-cream of course…

And so Day 4 Sunday morning was devoted to Serious Retail Therapy, for which we were rewarded by the world’s largest oysters for lunch.  Outside the restaurant was the fish market with every kind of sea creature on sale… We followed up our successful shopping experience with an hour of massage, before saying goodbye to China and heading into Macau  – along of course with most of China who were heading there for an evening at the casinos.

Macau is truly an experience and a half.  So much glitz and glamour – we stayed at the mega-luxurious Venetian Hotel which even has a river with gondolas and gondoliers on the third floor with an artificial blue sky and bridges just like Venice… We met up with our good friends, Pouling Cheong and Rev. Thomas Pang from St. Paul’s Church, Macau for dinner… and then we went on the gondolas – it was fun!

Ah, we slept so well – in the lap of luxury!  And awoke to our final day, sightseeing in Macau. Macau is famous for its Portuguese heritage, and we started at the museum for Port wine-tasting and displays of the Macau Grand Prix cars. Then around the city and so to lunch, and then to the airport for our flight back to Taiwan….

A uniquely Chinese experience in so many ways!  Great food, wonderful places and such lovely people to travel with – of course it’s the friends from St. James who are the real pearls of the Pearl River Delta!

Thank you to my friends at St. James – and to Almighty God goes special thanks for a such a great trip, cool weather and a safe and happy time for all YES!

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