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Saturday, October 3, 2015

GAWA Day #18: Japan versus Seoul versus Hong Kong

I thought this was a cute way to show the type of juice at the Sheraton Hong Kong breakfast today.

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:
Singapore North
AQI/PSI
Updated on Saturday 20:00
192
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As bad as it is in Singapore, though, parts of Indonesia are showing readings close to 1000, as compared to Tokyo (110), Incheon (170), Seoul (70) and Hong Kong (153).  Looking out my window of my Hong Kong hotel, I see a haze that rivals days in Honolulu when the volcanic haze is at its worst.   The air pollution in Singapore is caused by human clearing of jungles/forests through fires, while that of China is from industrial pollution.  While many cities in China are up to 400 and higher, the American Embassy in Beijing today reports 17...yes, 17.  Honolulu is 34 and New York City is 29.  Beijing in January, however, can well be 755!  Accurate to say that much of the Orient has severe air pollution problems.



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:
  • New Zealand
    6/5
    View all odds
    Australia
    15/2
    View all odds
    England
    8
    View all odds
    South Africa
    8
    View all odds
    Ireland
    9
    View all odds
    • 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.
Well, I'm still in Hong Kong, and noticed an editorial from Yonder Lhatoo entitled "Despite its faults, there's still much to love about Hong Kong:"
  • 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.
There is a can-do spirit of law-abiding, hard-working and tenacious people.  Yonder is proud to call HK home.  He summarized well.

Finally, next door is the former Portuguese Macau, which shot pass Las Vegas in gambling revenues eight years ago.    Revenues in 2013 were SEVEN times higher.  However, there has now been a year-long decline because of a China graft crackdown.  Yet, here is what can be expected:
  • New bridges will soon connect Macao with Hong Kong and the Mainland.
  • Studio City will open this month.
  • Super luxury Louis XIII comes in less than a year with 30 Rolls Royce Phantoms in a 7-Star casino.
  • New Wynn Palace, MGM and several others in 2017.
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge is probably my favorite.  Here is what I had today:


Upon landing in Singapore, there was a full sun out, but the pollution masked the light:


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There are now seven ocean storms:


Hurricane Joaquin at 125 MPH will begin to weaken and mostly keep away from the USA:


Soon to be typhoo Mujigae still has Hong Kong in the cone of potential:


But I'm out of here today.  Then there is typhoon to be Choi-wan, which could head for Japan:


No typhoons for Singapore nor Bangkok.

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