In Search Of Harmony In Hong Kong

World traveler and television personality Richard Bangs has a knack for finding adventure wherever he goes. His award winning program “Adventures with a Purpose routinely sends him to the far corners of the planet where he immerses himself in the history and culture of the destination while taking part in a host of unique activities.

In a recent episode entitled “Quest for Harmony,” Bangs visited the Pearl River Delta, a region that includes Hong Kong, Macau and portions of China‘s Guangdong Province. That particular show gave viewers a brief glimpse at all the many travel opportunities that exist throughout the area and, intrigued with what was shown, it left me wanting to know more. With that in mind, I recently sat down with Bill Flora, who was instrumental in getting Bangs to visit the Delta. Bill also happens to be the U.S. Director of Hong Kong Tourism, so as you can imagine, he has a lot to say about the region.

Gadling: The theme of “harmony” crops up often in this episode and it seems to play an important part in life in Hong Kong. How is that concept exhibited in the city?
Bill Flora: Finding harmony or balance is a universal theme in Asian culture and that is evident throughout Hong Kong as well. The city has a Yin and Yang to it that blends both high technology and nature surprisingly well. Amidst the towering skyscrapers and bright lights there is a peaceful serenity found in the city’s parks and natural spaces. Life there is a wonderful blend of traditional values and modern sensibilities.

G: Hong Kong and the surrounding Pearl River Delta seem to offer something for just about every kind of traveler. Is that a major part of its appeal?
BF: Absolutely! Variety is definitely the key. Hong Kong is the type of city where you’ll find a five-star restaurant on one corner, then walk around the block to discover an ancient temple on another. It is that mix of modern sophistication and traditional culture that makes it such an interesting place. Great shopping, a thriving nightlife, a sophisticated art scene and so much more – it’s all there for visitors to experience for themselves.G: And what about adventure travelers? Is there anything to draw them to the region as well?
BF: The term “adventure travel” is such a broad one and the word “adventure” means something different to everyone. But for those looking to explore the Pearl River Delta’s more wild side, they may be surprised to find that 40 percent of Hong Kong’s land volume is dedicated to parks, many of which have great hiking trails. Additionally there are 260 outlying islands to explore and the nearby Danxia Mountain Park, located in Guangdong, offers spelunking, trekking and climbing opportunities as well.

G: In your opinion, what is the best kept secret about the Pearl River Delta?
BF: I think visitors will be surprised at how great of an outdoor destination it is. Sure there are plenty of things to do in Hong Kong and Macau, but once you leave the city behind, the Pearl River Delta is a rugged and remote region. Upon my first visit I was surprised at just how lush and green it is there and opportunities for adventure abound.

G: And when they return to the city?
BF: They’ll have the opportunity to refuel with some of the excellent local cuisine. Hong Kong has everything from great street stalls with fresh seafood to Michelin-starred restaurants that are ranked among the best in the world. The city is also one of the most sophisticated wine destinations on the planet, which often comes as a surprise for visitors too. One thing is for sure – no one will go hungry!

G: For visitors traveling to Hong Kong for the first time, what is your recommendation for the one “don’t miss” activity?
BF: Without a doubt they should take the tram to the top of The Peak [Victoria Peak located in HK Harbor]. The view is spectacular, particularly at night, and I never grow tired of it. It is the signature spot in Hong Kong.

G: What else should first-time visitors to Hong Kong know?
BF: Hong Kong is the Gateway to Asia and it makes a great launching pad for visiting other parts of the continent. But everything a traveler could hope for can be found right there in the Pearl River Delta. I think anyone who visits the region will agree; it really is an amazingly diverse destination. With that in mind, we’ve partnered with Peregrine Travel and Cathay Pacific to offer several Pearl River Delta travel packages of varying lengths and itineraries. We really do hope they come visit us.

Many thanks to Bill for sharing his thoughts and insights into Hong Kong with me. Now I want to go to experience it for myself.

[Photo credit: chensiyuan and Doctoroftcm via WikiMedia]

SkyMall Monday: Electronic Feng Shui Compass

The SkyMall Monday headquarters is a pretty chaotic place. I’m constantly testing products, rotating hot dogs and pulling children around. But, despite all the schlock that’s littering my workspace, it’s still a calm, soothing and spiritual place. How do I manage to keep things so full of positive qi? Well, with feng shui, of course. Sadly, though, it’s not easy to keep things harmonious when it’s difficult to get your hands on an authentic feng shui compass. Besides, in this digital age, I can’t be bothered with more analog crap. No, I need technological advances to make my life easier and help me practice my pseduoscience with ease. And there’s no better place to seek a tool of enlightenment that utilizes a standard USB port to charge its lithium polymer battery than SkyMall. Which is why I have put my spiritual well-being right in the palm of my hand with the Electronic Feng Shui Compass.

Harnessing positive energy and aligning my life force with my natural environment has never been easier. Now, after a full session of charging, I can use my Electronic Feng Shui Compass to tell me where my ugly orange sectional should go. Maybe you think feng shui is a joke. Maybe you think it’s real but that an electronic device has no place in such an ancient practice. Maybe you think too much. Turn your brain off and just rely on the product description:

Working with electromagnetic energy, this handheld feng shui compass helps you support favorable conditions at home or in a hotel room. Operating with the same technology used in aerospace guidance systems, it locates and calculates energy fields so quickly, you align your physical surroundings to match your intentions.

If there’s a more natural marriage of ideas than aerospace guidance systems and feng shui, I don’t know what it is. They go together like peanut butter and telecommunications. And it’s so portable that I can take it with me when I travel. That will allow me to spend hours rearranging the hotel room furniture until the vibrations of Heaven and Earth heal the my back pain that was caused by rearranging the hotel room furniture. It’s the circle of life, people. Hakuna Matata.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts