China · China travel · Sports · Travel

China’s basketball misery, and Hong Kong’s Tai O

It seems good results can never last these days when it comes to Chinese men’s teams. Fresh off of the football team’s surprisingly good performance at last month’s East Asian tournament, China’s basketball team was knocked out of the FIBA Asian championships by none other than Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). It’s a first for Taiwan, who reached the semis and will face Iran, while China goes back home in tears. China’s coach offered a vague message about hope, and I really hope China gets it act together for the next Olympics, as they will not be going to the next world championships. This follows on China’s dismal performance in the 2012 London Olympic Games, when they finished bottom of their group in the first round. Yi Jianlian, China’s best player and a former NBA first-round draft pick, was injured in the first round but came back for the second round and quarterfinal. In the Global Times article (the first link above), several Chinese expressed anger and shock at the basketball loss, which should be a good kick in the backside for the coaches, players, and the people who run the basketball program.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s unique Tai O fishing village faces a big challenge in trying to maintain its heritage while undergoing development. This village features stilt houses and is in an isolated area on Lantau Island, where the airport and the cable car are on. You can eat fresh seafood, buy salted seafood, walk around and enjoy the mangrove swamps and scenery, and even go on boat rides to see the Chinese white dolphin, which is actually pink. I went there back in 2008 and it was quite decent. There were some visitors, but it wasn’t overflowing and the village was quite old, even a bit shoddy, though it gives it some character. I’ve seen it referred to as “Venice in the East” but that’s a little fanciful. It’s definitely a unique and scenic place in Hong Kong, and another striking example of how Hong Kong is more than just skyscrapers and shopping.

On the trip to Tai O, we went on the boat ride twice before we actually spotted dolphins which was cool. I think more development would not be too bad, especially since while more people will want to come, they will still need to come by bus over the hills. I think one resident sums it up very well near the end “I think Tai O has lost part of its unique character with all the development going on. But that the price we pay to get a better life and to help this community to survive.”

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The best photo I took of the dolphins. Apologies for the poor quality; it was very hard to focus because of the dolphins’ and the boat’s movement, plus my eyes were actually on the dolphins.
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