Plus, to the right is what I ate.
I'm on my way from Hong Kong to Singapore, and fret that I will be met with some severe air pollution:
Updated on Saturday 20:00
While one can't spend a couple of days in a country and provide a valid assessment, I've actually been to Japan more than a hundred times, Korea at least 50 and Hong Kong perhaps 25, so my views are updates based on past experience:
- Best as I can tell, Japan means "just always pray at night," Hong Kong is Chinese for "fragrant harbor" and Seoul stands for "capital city." However, Nihon and Nippon can be translated to the Land of the Rising Sun.
- When you travel to these countries, avoid being there when they are celebrating long holidays. I somehow, this time, arrived in the middle of all their major celebrations, making adjustments to my schedule nearly impossible and dinner reservations difficult.
- I would swear I saw more babies in these countries, but that is a relative term:
- Japan's birthrate has increased from a low of 1.26 in 2005 to 1.42, but the replacement rate is 2.07, so the population will continue to decline.
- South Korea is even lower at 1.3 children/woman, but in Seoul, it is 0.968.
- As can be seen below, yes, Hong Kong's birthrate has increased, but it was 5 in 1960, hit a low around 2003, but has come up only to 1.3 since then. Shanghai? 0.9. Singapore 0.81, Macau 0.94, Taiwan 1.12. U.S.? 1.87.
- Which sports are popular?
- Japan, Major League Baseball has long been well covered by various TV channels because of Japanese stars, but, today, rugby is king, for the World Cup is occurring in England, and last week Japan pulled off the biggest upset in the history of the game, beating South Africa. I'm actually now watching Japan versus Samoa on Fox Sports in Singapore, so by the time you read this, Japan will either have survived the cut or not. In the 14 finals thus far, Australia has won 10 times, England 3 and New Zealand once. The All Blacks from NZ are favored this year, but watch out for Argentina.
- Odds to win:
- Korea also follows American Major League Baseball because of their stars. I should mention that the "Barack Obama" President's Cup begins in two days, hosted by South Korea at a Jack Nicklaus designed Incheon golf course, close by the airport. It's the USA versus world, minus Europe. First time played in Asia.
- Hong Kong could not care less about baseball or American football, but horseracing is big, and even rugby matches are well covered.
- The Japanese are soft-spoken, Koreans are louder and Hong Kongers almost aggressively ruthless. Singaporeans are a milder form of HK.
- The stock markets of Japan, Korea and China are in the dumps, not unlike the USA. However, while the U.S. has over the past few months sunk by around 10%, China and Hong Kong have tumbled from 30% to 40%. The fear is further yuan devaluation, which could crash the market.
- Sheer convenience...plus, you think taxi drivers have an attitude here? Try Singapore...my next stop.
- Yes, this is a concrete jungle, but just a bit out there is considerable countryside.
- Sure, there is money-grubbing, but this is a land of opportunity and efficiency.
- HK is the safest city in the world.
- Yes, no universal suffrage, but HK is the freest city. Protests? Students blocked main roads for 79 straight days and were mostly tolerated.