Beer of Hong Kong

There is a saying that goes “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline”. While Hong Kong might not be a real country, as the home of Cathay Pacific it does have it’s own airline. But what about a local beer?

Cathay Pacific A330-300 B-HLQ

Local supermarkets stock plenty of different imported beers.

Beer selection at a Hong Kong supermarket

Even the outlying islands still get deliveries of the precious amber nectar.

The most important delivery - BEER!

But Hong Kong doesn’t have a ‘local’ beer as such.

San Miguel (生力啤酒) is the closest thing to a “cheap domestic beer” – the Philippines-based brand has an local subsidiary in San Miguel Brewery Hong Kong that runs a brewery at Yuen Long in the New Territories.

Beer tents down in the public area, mainly catering to tourists and expats

Their competition is Blue Girl Beer (藍妹啤酒). Based in the Chinese city of Qingdao in eastern Shandong Province, their product is described as a ‘German style’ beer.

Seafood restaurants lining the waterfront in Cheung Chau

Slim pickings – then again Hong Kong is just a “Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”.

Footnote

The “beer and and airline” quote is usually attributed to Frank Zappa – the Quote Investigator has the full story.

Wikipedia also has more on the subject of Beer in Hong Kong.

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Octopus card fare anomalies

Traveling on public transport in Hong Kong with an Octopus card is simple – load up your card with credit, tap on when you start every journey, and the lowest fare will be deducted each time – no more fumbling with coins! However it isn’t always that simple, as these are some anomalies in the Octopus card fare structure.

Ticket machines at Hung Hom station on the MTR

Ticket machines and cash boxes need constant attention, so to push passengers towards the much simpler Octopus system, cash fares on buses and single journey tickets on the MTR are sold at premium. However a change to MTR fares in June 2010 resulted in the opposite occurring – as this article from the South China Morning Post describes:

Octopus users out of pocket on MTR rides
Thursday, 20 May, 2010
Anita Lam

Millions of Octopus card users will be left wondering if they are paying more than single journey ticket holders when new MTR fares take effect on June 13.

Train passengers with Octopus cards normally enjoy a lower fare than people buying tickets from vending machines, but the MTR says a fraction of Octopus card users will pay 10 cents to 20 cents more than single journey ticket users on some trips.

With single journey fares being rounded off to the next 50 cents, the MTR believes this might mean an excessive amount for some of its shorter, cheaper journeys, so it waived the rise for such trips. However, these trips then become more expensive if one uses an Octopus card.

Examples include a ride between Tsuen Wan West and Jordan, which will cost HK$7.50 with a single journey ticket but 20 cents more with an Octopus card.

The MTR said only 100 of its 40,000 fare combinations would be affected.

The reason for the odd fares was detailed in a MTR press release at the time.

New MTR Fares to Take Effect on 13 June
19 May 2010

Individual MTR, Light Rail and MTR Bus fares will be adjusted from 13 June 2010 (Sunday) with the weighted average adjustment of all fares combined equaling +2.05%. For 83.3% of all passenger trips involved, the adjustment will be 20 cents or less, including about 10% of passengers who will not see any change in their fares.

As a guiding principle, adjustments to Octopus fares have been rounded to the nearest 10 cents and Single Journey fares rounded to the nearest 50 cents. The Corporation has also taken the opportunity to start addressing some fare anomalies which were noted after the West Rail Line was extended to Hung Hom Station. Nevertheless, these anomalies will take some years to resolve completely.

Since the 2010 fare rises, the number of MTR journeys where a single journey ticket is cheaper than an Octopus fare had declined – 2013 was the last year where train journeys featured on the list, and by 2015 only a small number of Light Rail journeys were listed.

Octopus exit processors at a Light Rail stop

Single Journey Ticket Issuing Machine at a Light Rail stop

As time goes on and MTR fares continue to rise, the last of these anomalies will eventually disappear.

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Another Chinese copycat Disneyland castle

China is known for fakes – and even entire theme parks are not safe, if the Disneyland-style castle I saw was anything to go by.

Fake Disneyland being built to the north of the city of Jinan in Hebei province

The best known fake Disneyland-style theme park in China is called WonderlandThe Bohemian Blog has more about it:

Somewhere between Beijing and the Great Wall of China, towering over the Hebei plains and the nearby Chenzhuang Village, there stands a lonely, broken castle. The site was once conceived as a parallel to Disney’s great amusement parks; the dream passed however, and now this gothic tower – no more than a crumbling concrete shell – marks the miscarriage of Asia’s largest theme park.

However the park I saw wasn’t Wonderland – it was demolished in May 2013 a few months before I visited China, and I spotted my park north of the city of Jinan in Hebei province, as I travelled from Shanghai to Beijing by train.

The park I saw was 泉城欧乐堡梦幻世界 – or “Springs European Le Fort Fantasy World” in English.

The park opened to patrons in April 2014, and features 中心天鹅堡 (“Neuschwanstein Castle”) in the middle.

Copycat Disneyland Castle at ’Springs European Le Fort fantasy world’ in China

As well as a copycat version of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia by the front gate.

Copycat Sagrada Familia at ’Springs European Le Fort fantasy world’ in China

Is there a landmark anywhere in the world that China hasn’t yet built a copy of?

Further reading

Page on Springs European Le Fort fantasy world at Baidu Baike (via Google Translate)

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Branching out to Mainland China

Since my 2013 trip to China I’ve been facing quite a dilemma – should I writing about Mainland China appear on this site about Hong Kong, or does it belong elsewhere?

Police chase the public out of Tiananmen Square at closing time

As a firm believer in “Hong Kong is not China” mixing the two topics together on one site feels wrong – bn the other hand, I already maintain enough websites.

So I’ve taken the pragmatic route and instead of creating a new site just to cover Mainland China, you’ll find it all in the one place. Enjoy!

Footnote

Back in 2015 an artist from Hong Kong created a set of 24 illustrations depicting the difference between mainland China and Hong Kong. You can find them over at the Shanghaiist blog.

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Lift lobbies and miniature paid areas at MTR stations

On such a busy rail network as the Hong Kong MTR, it isn’t just the operation of trains that has to be optimised – the passenger flows inside the station have to be kept separated in order to avoid crowds and congestion.

Escalators from concourse to platform level at Jordan station

Each station have a clear line between the ‘paid’ and ‘unpaid’ sections of the concourse, and at busy stations separate inbound and outbound ticket gates are provided, keeping the conflicting passenger flows apart, while also making it easy for passenger on either side to access the customer service desk.

Station concourse at Chai Wan

However one curious arrangement I noticed at a handful of stations was a single set of ticket gates leading to a lift.

Single set of ticket gates in place to control access to the platform lift

I first noticed it at Admiralty station, where these is an interchange between the Island and Tsuen Wan lines.

Lift-only ticket barriers at Admiralty station

And I found a second example at Kowloon station, which is served by the Airport Express and Tung Chung lines.

Lift-only ticket barriers at Kowloon station

In both cases, it appears that including the vertical lift shaft inside the paid area while also allowing for passenger circulation in the public part of the station wasn’t achievable, so a second set of ticket gates had to be installed for passengers who use the lift.

I just hope that any passengers using the lift don’t run into any trouble with using their Octopus card, as help is a long way away!

Footnote

I’ve written before about how the disabled can access Hong Kong’s MTR network, so you might know that many of the early MTR stations have required the retrofitting of lift access to them. Admiralty station falls into this category, but Kowloon station is interesting – lifts were included in the original design, so the reason for unusual concourse layout is still unclear.

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