Before getting to the views of the US of A, I wanted to first discuss the beauty of Hong Kong.
Before I left for the
I had originally planned to take them around by myself on a two-day excursion, preparing everything and staying overnight at my company apartment. However, realizing that that would completely stress and overwhelm me with planning during my vacation, I decided against it. Instead I spent money for the 3 of us to do a day trip through an agency. 250 RMB a person for 2 meals, tour guide, a
Since I had traveled in
Our tour guide was a
Here are some of the highlights of the his tour:
- A description of Hong Konger’s love and admiration of 邓小平 (dengxiaoping) and the economic reforms he introduced. It was his visionary look on the future that helped make the new Hong Kong happen.
- A simple, yet interesting description of the difference between HK’s Capitalist society versus
’s Socialist society. China
- Interesting stories about Jackie Chan, and bus rides past his house and office. Hot.
- An accurate and informing history of
Hong Kongand the various waves of immigration with respect to Chinese influence (ie. Cultural Revolution = Rich people coming to Hong Kong)
- Honest care and advice for his tour.
- Money, Money, Money.
In the presentation, I noticed that the tour guide always talked about money. With this, I had to count how many times the he referred to money. It could have been how much something was, making money, how to make money, how much a house was, how much the value of the house has grown, ect. (I usually count the amount of “umms” or “likes” people say while they’re talking if they do it a lot. Just one of those things).
It turned out that he referred to money more than 120 times during the trip.
From how much Jackie Chan bought Bruce Lee’s house for to how much the going rate for a box for your cremated remains, from the taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to how much money he lost during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998, he didnt leave anything out.
This vast and consuming discussion about money brought me back to the different conversations I had with my cousin TT during Chinese New Year’s Eve. That night she discussed how much she disliked Shenzhen and its lack of culture. The city was based around finance and didn't have any semblance of culture. Money and how to make it was what everyone talked about.
When I started thinking about it, I realized that this was dead on. I rarely talked about anything with my friend Simon other than which stocks are good, what business models would be successful in
My cousin Ding, who works for the Shenzhen municipal cultural department agreed as well. It seemed that people were brought up differently here. Here’s what he described:
In the north, kids are brought up with the importance of education (me included). The goal that the kid are pushed to strive for is good grades and going to a good college. True merchants were looked down upon and an entrepreneurial mind was discouraged.
In the south, however, school is very seldom stressed. Instead, the goal that the kids know is financial based. Through experience and hard work, maybe you can do something to make a lot of money. Simon, who has lived in Shenzhen all his life, described the various business ventures he did when he was a kid. He and his friends formed at least 2 different small businesses each year based on the timing starting when he was 9. They would go into selling flowers, shoes, book bags, basically anything to make a profit. This is how they grew up. They believed that “learning by doing” was the way to go. If they ended up losing money in the venture, they would just look at that loss as the price of their education.
In my experience, his Ding's statements were dead on. A friend of mine made almost 1 million RMB in a year by doing the arbitrage game with shoes from Shenzhen to the north. He was only 19. Instead of his parents supporting him in his successful business venture, they were disappointed that he didn't go to college and tried to do anything and everything to get him to go. Currently he's at a random university in Australia, fulfilling his parent's wishes. Typical northern family.
This recent understanding of the importance of money in the regional culture of Shenzhen, Hong Kong and
- I have had off and on feelings of something missing from life in Shenzhen and I think this is it. It’s difficult to talk to people about anything other than money. After 6 months of this, a person thats previously had not focused on money (me) can go crazy.
- At the same time, this is good for me. I grew up in a strict-academically based home (my mom is a professor and her parents were also professors) and I need to add the entrepreneurial spirit that’s so strong in this area. Learning through experience is definitely apparent.
- I often try and think/develop business ideas. Moreover, I have a few possibly successful ideas that I’m working on.
- Where did this focus on money come from? Was it the influence on
Guangdongprovince from Hong Kongor was it formed a long time ago?
- This is why
province is so incredibly successful in the world stage. This is not only where Chinese people who want to make money (whether it’s migrant labor trying to get ahead, HK businessmen with capital, ect.), but it is where the world is coming as well. Of course it’s location and proximity to HK has something to do with it as well. Guangdong
- I wonder if the culture is similar in the
region as well. Can anyone who know about Shanghai add their 2 cents? Shanghai
- This entrueural spirit feels like pure excitement. There are so many oportunities in China for anyone with a good idea. It is the ability as a person to take advantage of these opportunties. This is a big difference from the seemingly repetitive life of the US and even NYC.
In terms of my experiences, I am most definitely excited about being able to be apart of this. I feel incredibly fortunate. Simultaneously, however, I wonder how my views, observations and insights about Chinese culture is skewed by living in this area where there is only 1 focus. For example, how can I talk about the Chinese worker where the Chinese worker here might be completely money oriented where people in northern
As much as this lifestyle is different from what I'm used to, its absolutely pure and enjoyable. Who knows what come of my living here... but ultimately, I guess its most immediate effect is that it’s going to make writing this blog that much more interesting and challenging.