WildChina Blog

.

Featured Bloggers

In The News
The absolute latest updates in China travel information.

On the Road
Our tales from the trail and dispatches straight from the source.

Travel Tips
What to bring, where to go, and how to get around China.

Mei Zhang
WildChina founder, entrepreneur, mother.

Andrew Stein
Fulbright scholar exploring environment, agriculture, and tea.

July 16th, 2012

Top Five Tips for Easy China Travel

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Environment, WildChina Travel Tips

We’ve all been there. You have been working the whole year, and finally you take a vacation. You arrive at your destination–usually somewhere well-removed from you office–only to discover your bags did not make the trip with you. This is but one of a number of things guaranteed to put a damper on your vacation. Limiting your exposure to these kinds of inconveniences will greatly increase the chances that your next vacation is actually a vacation. Here are WildChina’s top 5 travel tips to make getting to China a breeze:

1.) Whenever possible do not check a back: We realize sometimes that’s not feasible, but right now the only thing more egregious than the fees many airlines charge for checking bags is the rate at which they misplace, delay, or lose them. Avoid these problems and simply carry on. Eagle Creek has some great options.

2)Save space: When you are packing you can save a lot of space by keeping two great tips from the New York Times in mind. The first is that if you mix and match the items you are bringing, you can create more outfits. For example, two shirts and two pairs of pants will leave you with four different looks. The second is to limit the larger items. Thick sweaters and jackets can take up a lot of room, so limit the number you bring. If you have a spring itinerary that will bring you to the relatively chilly Beijing, and the relatively warm Guangxi, layering is the key. A wind breaker and a thin sweater together will keep you warm in Beijing, while each on its own will be comfortable in Guangxi.

3) Prepare for Security: If you empty your pockets in a rush, it is really easy to lose your most important valuables. To make sure this does not happen and get through the check point as quickly as possible, have your belongings ready to place on the conveyor belt. Put all your metallic items in your carry-on and have your shoes loose and your computer out.

4) Book a car service to meet you when you come home: If you have been stuck waiting in the rain at the cab line, then you can appreciate how nice it is to have a car waiting for you when you land in your home country. If you are returning the U.S., WildChina feels Uber is a great option. Simply send them a text once you are allowed to use your phone, and their car will be waiting for you when you walk out of baggage claim.

5) Keep track of the details: Sometimes you can rack your brain when you are going to the airport but you cannot remember your confirmation number. An easy way to keep all your departures and reservation numbers straight? Trip it. This website combines all your itineraries into one easy to view location for you and those who wish to follow your journey through the middle kingdom.

———-

If you want more tips on travel in China or are interested a trip with WildChina, send us an email at info@wildchina.com

Photo credit: Photo of the bag is from Eagle Creek, and cab line is from d.think

 


Tags: Trip it Uber wild China WildChina WildChina travel .







July 12th, 2012

Hong Kong: Best City in the World

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, Dining Experiences in China, Educational Travel in China, Luxury China Travel, WildChina Travel Tips

Having just received recognition from the Economist as the best city in the world, we thought it would be an appropriate time to express our own fondness for Hong Kong. We sat down with two of WildChina’s native Hongkies Anna Bosco and Samantha Woods to learn the secrets about what makes this city so great:

Frequently referred to as the “New York of Asia,” a comment that no doubt will rankle the chain of anyone who hails from the big apple, Hong Kong is a leading cultural and financial center in the world. As Samantha describes it, “Hong Kong has the best of East and West, city and countryside, history and modernity.” A true mixing bowl of culture and landscape the city is not to be missed.

Any tour of Hong Kong where you did not make food a focal point of your visit would be a tragedy. In Hong Kong, Dim Sum is a specialty, and if you want the very best, Anna recommends a trip to the Four Seasons. Prepared immaculately, the dishes run the gambit, offering rare delicacies side by side with the sinful treats you would find on the street. Hot and exhausted while shopping? Anna recommends an icy Sago Mango. This luscious drink combines mango juice with pieces of mango and pomelo to create the perfect mid-day break.

But food is not the only reward in this bastion of culture. As noted in the economist article, and confirmed by Anna and Samantha, part of Hong Kong’s allure rests in its layout. Hong Kong is essentially divided into sections that contain either towering buildings or the rich green of tropical parks. As Samantha explains, “One of my favorite things is that I can take a bus from Central and in 20 minutes be relaxing on a quiet beach.” What’s not to love? If moving to Hong Kong is too big a commitment, simply add a few days here to your next trip with us, and by the end you too may be saying it is the best city in the world.

———-

For most travelers, we have found that 2-3 days in Hong Kong is sufficient over the course of 10-13 day journey. Should you be interested in making Hong Kong a larger piece of your travels, we would be happy to arrange that as well. Send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we can begin planning your own adventure.

Photo Credit Hunter Holt and Karen Goodman.


Tags: Anna Bosco char siu baau Four Seasons Hong Kong Sago Mango Samantha Woods wild China WildChina WildChina Hong Kong WildChina travel .







July 9th, 2012

Tips on calling home from China

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Chinese Culture, WildChina Travel Tips

Traveling in China, in our opinion, is one of the best ways a person can spend their time. Whether you’re walking through the incense laden air of an ancient temple, touching the well worn steps of the Great Wall, or enjoying the sweetness of local tea in Yunnan, you’re sure to be learning something. However, in the midst of your adventures, you may suddenly realize you need to get in touch with a loved one back home. Maybe it’s business, maybe it’s a birthday, or maybe you just want to gush about the Peking Duck you had for lunch. Whatever the case, your first question will be: “Can I call home from here?”

As with any other aspect of a WildChina trip, we can tailor your communication options according to your needs. In major cities, calling is easy, but for some very rural areas this isn’t the case. While the cost of having a satellite phone for a week can run over $700, it is something we are happy to provide if you need to remain in constant contact. If you need to make local calls while traveling in China, WildChina can also arrange for you to have a temporary phone during your stay. This is significantly cheaper and will make getting around easier if you choose to go exploring on your own.

However we also realize that many of the best travel experiences come when one fully removes themselves from home and engages in the new environment they find themselves in. For many of our student trips, part of the fun is being out of contact with home and having a chance to be independent. Of course, parents need not fear, if they wish to contact our guides to check on their children they are only a phone call away.

Should the unexpected occur, do not worry, WildChina will be there to assist you. We once had a client who lost his wallet when he was in China. Because this gentleman had lost all his money, he could not buy a calling card to cancel his credit cards back in the states. Our guide stepped in and let the man use the guide’s personal phone to call the U.S.

As we said before, we believe there is no finer use of time than traveling in China, and we hope you’ll come join us soon. After all, your next fall adventure could be just around the corner.

———-

In our opinion, enjoying a vacation means leaving all your worries behind. We hope this post will put any concerns you have about communication at rest but if you still have more don’t hesitate to be in touch at info@wildchina.com

 


Tags: wild China WildChina WildChina travel WildChina Travel Tips .







July 5th, 2012

A 500 RMB Food Adventure in Shanghai

By: WildChina | Categories: WildChina Travel Tips

Beijing’s rival, Shanghai, is known for three things: the breathtaking Bund, mouthwatering street food, and…more food. WildChina provides some recommendations for fantastic eateries to check out while in the “Paris of the Orient” to dine on some of Shanghai’s finest cuisine without putting a hole in your wallet:

Breakfast – Yang’s Fried Dumpling (小扬生煎) (10~20 元/person)

What better way to energize for a long day exploring the streets of Shanghai than with a hearty plate of baozi (生煎包)? There is no better place to dine on this Southern Chinese specialty than at Yang’s Fried Dumpling. Wherever you may be, chances are you will find a joint of this chain somewhere in your vicinity. Similar to an American diner, this restaurant has been around for the past 18 years, serving up some of Shanghai’s best fried dumplings. Although they offer a range of soups and other small bites, the lines of hungry eaters diligently waiting outside are all because of its baozi, which hands down, is some of the best fried dumplings you will ever try. The slightly sweet meat filling is a fantastic complement to the partially crunchy, partially chewy doughy outer cover. Dipped in some vinegar, these small doughy treats are little pieces of heaven inside your mouth. Don’t be surprised if these miniature dough balls of meaty goodness start to disappear right before your eyes. We secretly hope that Yang’s Fried Dumpling will soon open up a branch in Beijing. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Lunch – Kakatei (100~250 元/person)

For lunch, mix things up by indulging in some of the best teppanyaki in town. Kakatei serves some of the finest Japanese specialties and although these scrumptious dishes along with the restaurant’s simple, yet elegant ambiance does come with a hefty price tag, Kakatei offers lunch set specials at reasonable pricess, ranging from 80 to 200 kuai per person. We recommend you try the teppanyaki sets, which include a variety of cuisine, including sashimi, steak, fish, and vegetables. The premium seafood tastes fresh and the red meat is soft and velvety, as each piece melts inside your mouth. Trust us when we say that this will be some of the best teppanyaki you will ever try!

Dinner  - Blue Heart Restaurant (兰心餐厅)(50~80 元/person)

Shanghai cuisine is famous for its particularly sweet and savory dishes. Lan Xin Restaurant (兰心餐厅), a favorite amongst locals, is a gem hidden within Shanghai’s alleyways. Started by an elderly couple, walking into this restaurant, which consists solely of five tables, will make you feel as though you have been transported to your grandmother’s home. The owner herself comes out to take your order and the close-knit, unadorned interior only enhances its overall charm. The 红烧肉(braised pork in soy sauce) slowly melts inside your mouth as all of its intense flavors envelop your taste buds, while the 油爆虾 (stir-fried shrimp) adds a nice crunchy contrast to the buttery pork. For the adventurous food lover, we recommend the 炒猪肝 (fried pork liver with soy sauce), which with its perfect blend of savory and sweet will not make you regret taking a ride on the wild side. Just a heads up – make sure you arrive right at five, because chances are, the line will be out the door!

红烧肉(Braised Pork in Soy Sauce)

Drinks – Aura at the Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai Pudong (100 元/person)

When in Shanghai, you have to see the Bund at night, especially with its breathtaking lights. If you are in the
 mood for a drink following a long day filled with adventure, head to Aura, located on the 52nd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pudong. Not only do you get a front-seat view of the mesmerizing cityscape across the Huangpu River, but you also get to enjoy a fantastic drink as well. This bar is elegant sophistication at its finest and amongst its extensive list of delicious cocktails, we recommend the fruity Mango Mojito, which actually tastes like a mango smoothie turned into a fancy drink. What better way to end your night?

_____

Interested in visiting the “Paris of the Orient” for some of Yang’s delectable fried dumplings? Check out WildChina’s journey “Oriental Decadence: An Affair with Shanghai’s Past” and land yourself right into baozi heaven.

Photo Credit of Kakatei: City Weekend


Tags: Baozi cheap eateries kakatei lanxincanting mango mojito ritz-carlton shanghai pudong shanghai cuisine Shanghai fried dumplings Shanghai street food teppanyaki travel in China wild China WildChina WildChina travel yang's fried dumplings .







July 4th, 2012

Visa to China? Here’s how

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Exclusive Access China, WildChina Announcements, WildChina Travel Tips

International relations are different between every country in the world. Consequently, the process for obtaining the appropriate visa to a country varies considerably depending on where you are from and where you are going. While getting some visas can be as easy as buying a postage stamp, for others it is as difficult as writing a college thesis.

For an American or a European seeking a tourist visa in China the process is somewhere in between. Recently, China has been cracking down on issuing foreign visas because of the number of illegal workers in the country. This recent attention has forced all visa applications to undergo greater scrutiny. While Americans are expected to list the full names and job titles of their immediate family members, some Europeans may be asked to supply an original insurance policy with a seal, a work certificate from their country, and sometimes even their bank statements.

With few exceptions all visitors to China will need to obtain a tourist visa. In order to do this travelers must go to their local Chinese embassy or consulate. Depending on where you live these locations can be quite far away. Thankfully one also has the option of having a third party apply for a visa on their behalf. WildChina has found Visa Central (formerly known as Zierer Visa Service) to be a very good resource in this regard. Applications and instructions can be downloaded online, or you can call them directly at 1-866-788-1100 . If you will be joining us on a WildChina Trip email info@wildchina.com to get a code for preferred pricing. Though the process of getting a visa to come to China may be cumbersome, we assure you it is worth the effort, and when you have your first look at the dazzling lights of Shanghai’s Bund, we’re sure you’ll agree.

———-

If you have further questions on any topic of travel in China, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@wildchina.com


Tags: wild China WildChina WildChina travel Zierer Visa Service .







June 25th, 2012

My Perfect Day in Shangri-La

By: WildChina | Categories: WildChina Travel Tips

Imagine waking up each morning to the comforting smell of sweet Caravan Breakfast coffee, enjoying a buttery scone with a spoonful of flavorful honeysuckle honey while admiring the mystical valleys of Shangri-la, and ending your day with a relaxing bath using some freshly-made rose magnolia soap. This is the daily routine of Alia Malik, co-founder of Shangri-la Farms, a company founded on promoting an organic and healthy lifestyle.

Alia, her sister Sahra, and brother Safi founded the company with the hopes of helping to improve the quality of life for the rural farmers of Shangri-la, a city located in Yunnan province, which, though rich in biodiversity, is China’s second-poorest region. With a rapidly growing loyal fan base, Shangri-la Farms provides an outlet for these farmers to “connect with the outside world to sell their products,” which include coffee, honey, and a variety of body products.

WildChina is excited to share Alia’s “Perfect Day in Shangri-la”, including her favorite local sites and eateries in this “earthly paradise”:

On a perfect June weekend with the temperature in the low-30° C, (around 86° F) a cool breeze runs through the mountains and a clear blue covers the sky, both of which are harder to find in the more cosmopolitan Beijing. My first impression of the city is embodied in the word “special.” There is no other place in China, and maybe even in the world, like Shangri-la. This beautiful city is unique in that it holds a lot of “feeling”, and although it is occupied by multiple minority groups, there is still a strong sense of community, a unified identity. Local cuisine is delicious and unlike food in the cities, you are mainly eating what has been farmed very nearby and therefore, is less chemically heavy. My personal favorite has to be mian pian, a noodle soup that consists of a locally-flavored broth filled with flat square noodle pieces. With its culturally Tibetan traditions, fantastic eateries, and sensational views, Shangri-la provides an experience that is unavailable in the better-known metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai.

As I wake up in the morning, I breathe in the fresh crisp air and get ready to start off my day with some Western-style comfort food at Somewhere Else Café, whose scrumptious homemade granola and yogurt are both to die for. With some nicely brewed coffee, this is the ultimate breakfast, the best way to energize for a busy day. Then, I enjoy taking a nice walk with my dog up the hill behind my house, from the top of which you can see most of the Shangri-la Valley and sometimes even all the way to the next valley over. I take a moment to fully take in this pristine view and almost always end up having to pinch myself to remind myself that I’m not dreaming. Shangri-la is filled with amazing sites that highlight nature’s beauty, such as the lush green grasslands surrounding the clear water of Napahai Lake.

After running some quick errands and getting some work done for the upcoming bottled drinks we have planned for Shangri-la Farms, I head to Karma Café to meet up with a few friends for lunch. The perfect place to catch up with old friends, this eatery, not located in the well-known Old Town, but rather, on a more off-beaten path, embodies the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of Shangri-la. Serving locally-inspired European food with a modern twist, including delicious salads with local walnuts and even yak steak, Karma Café is quickly creating a name for itself not only for its mouth-watering dishes, but wonderful ambiance. After parting with my friends, I head to a local monastery, a must-see when visiting Shangri-la. I personally enjoy the Songstam Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in China and a vibrant center of prayer and study. Here, you have the opportunity to first-handedly experience the local culture as you observe monks going about their daily routine. I would then head to the Yunnan Mountain Handicrafts Center to check out some crafts, all of which are locally made and beautifully crafted. I am always up for some shopping!

 

Tara Gallery Cafe

After an adventurous day of exploring Shangri-la, I am famished and ready to enjoy a tantalizing mix of Indian, Himalayan, and Yunnan food at Tara Gallery, including flavorful dishes such as cucumber and three veggie salad, eggplant mousse, and Tibetan dumplings. The personally crafted cuisine at Tara Gallery contains both local Yunnan and Indian flavors and best of all, it’s healthy! So no feeling guilty after indulging in these savory delicacies. Another great option is Arro Khampa, renowned for their French twist on Tibetan cuisine. Not only are their dishes très fantastique, Arro Khampa has great hospitality and is simply a lovely place to while away the evening.

At the end of a long day of exploration, relaxation, and consumption of some of the best Chinese food around, I am exhausted and ready for bed.

———-

Photo credit: Cartier Woman’s Initiative and Chinatravel.net

Are you a diehard java lover interested in trying out Shangri-la Farm’s Caravan Breakfast coffee? Check out a variety of organic, fair trade quality products on their website.

Interested in trying yak steak? Contact WildChina for more information on traveling to Shangri-la.

 

 


Tags: Alia Malik Caravan Breakfast coffee Dhondupling Monastery earthly paradise food Jenny Lou's Karma Cafe lamasery Napahai Lake Shangri-la Shangri-La Farms Somewhere Else Cafe Tara Gallery wild China WildChina WildChina travel yak steak Yunnan .







June 5th, 2012

Update: Summer 2012 Travel in Tibet

By: WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, WildChina Travel Tips

Earlier today, WildChina received more finalized news that Tibet is temporary closed off to foreign travelers during the month of June.  At present, local authorities are not issuing permits for foreign travelers to visit, although this could change at any moment.

Blossoming flowers outside of Lhasa, Tibet

 

As many of you may know, in late May WildChina issued a statement explaining the updated regulations– that in order to travel to Tibet a traveler must be in a group of five and all must be same nationality.  However, with today’s latest update, WildChina has canceled all Tibet travel for June 2012. According to our local team in Lhasa, we could possibly learn more about the updated situation for July/August/September by the end of the week.  Stay tuned here to learn more.

Paint pots for Thangka painting

 

For many who had planned a once in a lifetime trip to Tibet this summer, not all is lost.  For those interested in Tibetan culture as well as stunning– and arguably more remote regions– we are recommending clients to consider  Across the Wild Frontier: Western Sichuan to Yunnan. Head of Leisure Veronique d’Antras says, “This overland expedition goes through some of the most beautiful and rugged Tibetan plateau landscapes: evergreen forests, crystal clear rivers, transparent lakes, glaciated peaks, grasslands with yaks, remote monasteries, horse festivals and Khampa Tibetan traditional culture are found along the road. Take your time to explore.” Explore China’s most dynamic wild west frontier. The Sichuan-Yunnan corridor is one of western China’s most difficult and seldom-traveled passages, but also offers its most inspiring natural scenery. Trek through high mountain passes, hike in alpine forests and along glacial lakes, and watch the sun rise above holy Tibetan Buddhist mountains.
On this  journey, we travel from Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu, to the Tibetan town of Shangri-La (Zhongdian) in the northwestern corner of Yunnan province. We push deep into the remote mountains of Sichuan’s western region to view some of its most inspiring natural scenery, from the sun rising above holy mountains to the alpine majesties of Yading nature reserve. Along the way, we meet with a living Buddha, trek with local Tibetans and visit many of the largest and most renowned Buddhist monasteries outside of Tibet.
———-
Interested in learning more about travel updates for summer 2012? Stay tuned at WildChina’s blog for the latest news. If you are keen to hear more about Across the Wild Frontier, please contact us at info@wildchina.com.


Tags: Tibet travel 2012 updated Tibet travel restrictions Western Sichuan travel wild China WildChina WildChina travel Zhongdian .







May 25th, 2012

Update from the Field: Travel to Tibet

By: WildChina | Categories: WildChina Travel Tips

For the past four years, Tibet experiences a hiatus in tourism during the spring.  As we are moving to the end of May, Tibet is slowly opening up again to travelers.  Currently, permits to the autonomous region out west can be granted to groups of 5 or more people of the same nationality.  Thus, it is the perfect time to gather friends and family for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to this spiritual land…

Our journeys are briefly outlined here in Action Asia magazine, but no matter if it is a trip for your entire family or a group of friends camping out in the Tibetan countryside against the world’s most magnificent mountains, there is certainly something for everyone.

For travelers looking to travel in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan province, Ganze and Dege districts seem to be closed still while Litang and Yading reserves are open to foreigners.  Overland journeys from northwest Yunnan to  southeastern Sichuan are also fine.  For a peek into the lives of monks in these remote monasteries, check out WildChina’s 12-Day journey in the Western Frontier.

 

————

For more information, contact us at info@wildchina.com

 


Tags: travel permits to Tibet travel restrictions to Tibet 2012 travel to Tibet wild China WildChina .







April 9th, 2012

Mission Macau: Highest Bungee Jump in the World

By: WildChina | Categories: WildChina Corporate Travel, WildChina Travel Tips

Have you ever wanted to experience free fall from the highest bungee jump in the world?  If the answer is ‘YES’, then consider taking the plunge from the Macau Tower, which rises to a whopping height of 233 meters (764 feet).  This massive needle rises up from a coastline amid countless casinos and quaint, European architecture and is just an hour ferry ride away from Hong Kong.

 

What goes up...

The rush of gushing wind and literal leap of faith is incredibly thrilling, and in our opinion, completely worth the muster of courage.  We’d definitely recommend, though, going with a solid cheerleader or even using this activity as a team-building event with your colleagues or classmates. To calm your quickening heartbeats and those sweaty palms, the bungee is completely safe, and the company does have a perfect track record.

If bungee jumping isn’t your cup of tea, you can also opt for a meander along the outside of the tower for a quick gaze or climb up the mast to 338 meters (1,109 feet). Whatever the pursuit, you will have an unparalleled view of Macau that’s impossible to top:

 

...must come down.

Max Stein, one of WildChina’s Princeton-in-Asia fellows, bungee jumping from Macau Tower.

———-

Interested in visiting Macau? Feel free to get in touch with us at info@wildchina.com.

Photos by Virtual Tourist & Max Stein of WildChina, respectively.

 


Tags: adventure bungee jumping in Macau corporate highest bungee jump in the world Hong Kong Macau Macau Tower team-building wild China WildChina WildChina travel .







March 28th, 2012

Hong Kong in March: See you at the Sevens!

By: WildChina | Categories: Holidays and Festivals, In the News, On the Road, WildChina Travel Tips

Walking along Queen’s Road Central in downtown Hong Kong this past Monday morning, there were a lot of hoarse voices and rueful smiles.  Overheard more than once was the teasing comment, “I see you survived the Sevens.” For non-ruggers out there (or loyal rugby league fans), the Sevens refers to the HSBC Hong Kong Rugby Sevens: a 3-day frenzy of international 7-a-side rugby, hilarious costumes, socializing, networking, and of course, inevitable hoarse voices.

 

The jam-packed Hong Kong Stadium

The first thing to know about the Sevens is the reason behind the name.  Standard rugby, known as rugby union, has 15 players per team and 40 minutes halves; sevens rugby has—you guessed it—7 players per team and 7 minute halves.  Although the rules are essentially the same, sevens rugby is a lot more exciting: it’s faster-paced, with more scoring, and is ultimately unpredictable.  If this is the first you’ve heard of sevens rugby, keep your eyes peeled.  Just last year the sport was entered into the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, a HUGE victory for sevens fans and sponsors.  We’ll be hearing a lot more about this exciting sport in years to come.

 

Involving the local Hong Kong rugby clubs in the Sunday March-Past

Favorites to win the Hong Kong Sevens this year were Fiji and New Zealand (who beat England in the Cup finals last year) and sure enough, the nail-biting final had these two teams pitched against each other as the crowd rose to its feet, some climbing on top of the seats in nervous expectation.  Although there were plenty of New Zealanders among the fans (and many more hoping for a Kiwi win to see the infamous Haka), the teeny tiny island nation of Fiji rallied many more to its cause as the underdog and the promise of a new reigning champion.  With a roaring crowd behind them, the Fijians went on to beat New Zealand by a single try, with a final score of 35-28.

Check out the videos below for the 7 best plays of the tournament (including a Fiji try against the All Blacks [NZ]) and the New Zealand Haka from last year’s victory.

 

 

Held at the end of March every year, fans of all ages and from all over the world descend upon Hong Kong just for the Sevens (two WildChina staff included) and the 40,000 seat Hong Kong Stadium sells out within hours–tickets go on sale in January. There are more teams competing than at other International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens Series events (24 instead of 16), and this year, victory for some teams at the Hong Kong Sevens will enter them into the core 15 countries competing on the international circuit. All this, in addition to it’s party-like carnival reputation, means the Hong Kong Sevens is by far the most popular rugby event in Asia with tickets notoriously hard to get.

 

Dragon dances - Saturday mid-day show

 

Drummers - Saturday mid-day show

 

Hong Kong Police Band - Sunday March-Past

Over the weekend, WildChina took a break from the rugby to speak with anthropologist Joseph Bosco at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who has been doing research into rugby culture and the Hong Kong Sevens, to better understand how a sports event held in Hong Kong became so immensely popular (because, let’s face it, rugby is not usually what springs to mind when you think of the Chinese urban metropolis).

Bosco says the sport itself, the nature of sevens rugby is “ideal for socializing, since it has spans of intense action and excitement along with half-time breaks (two minutes), and pauses between games (about five minutes). The Sevens game fits the Hong Kong pace of life and attention span. In Hong Kong [time] is scarce; while everyone else in the rugby world enjoys an 80-minute game, the city has shortened it to just 14 minutes.”

 

England wins line-out against Kenya

“Sevens is also easier to understand…it’s a more open game. Spectators can see the ball almost all the time, and they can see players form lines of defense, and though they may not understand how the gap was created, they can easily see the player spurt through a hole in the line to break away into open field, do a side-step on the hapless halfback, and score. Even someone who has never before seen rugby can understand the basics of sevens rugby.”

Finally, he says, “the Hong Kong Sevens means different things to different people, but the different meanings complement each other and have synergy. Spectators who come for the party also learn to enjoy the rugby. Rugby fans who come for the athletic contest also enjoy the festive atmosphere. And the businesspeople who come for branding and networking can do their work more effectively and pleasantly thanks to the party and the rugby.”

 

Waldos enjoying a corporate box

As you can see above, at the Hong Kong Sevens this “festive atmosphere” and “party” translates into one thing: costumes. The more hilarious and outrageous, the better and we definitely have our favorites from this weekend:

 

Bananas in Pyjamas

 

Sushi

 

Mail Order Brides

 

Panam

 

Smurfs

 

Miss Piggy & Kermit

 

Tooth Fairies

 

Swan Lake

With 24 countries competing, the chance that you have a personal stake in every game is next to zero, which means that fans usually pick a team for that game to support, lending a friendly air to the event.  The one exception is when Hong Kong plays—the stadium as a whole pitches itself behind Hong Kong.  This year Hong Kong fielded one of the best teams in years, emerging from their pool undefeated (beating Uruguay, Tonga, and China).  Hong Kong was competing to enter the core 15 international sevens teams which would have made them the first professional sevens team Hong Kong has seen.  The majority of the boys on the Hong Kong team came out of the Hong Kong youth rugby programs, making their eventual loss to Japan even more devastating for them and local Hong Kong fans.

WildChina got in touch with former Hong Kong sevens and fifteens (union) player, and poster boy for Hong Kong rugby, Andy Yuen, to hear his thoughts on the Hong Kong Sevens.  Yuen is currently the assistant coach to the Hong Kong Women 7s team, and much like the current Hong Kong team, he came up through the local rugby program.  “Playing for the Hong Kong team in the Hong Kong Sevens was my dream, and I made the dream come true.  I started watching the Sevens when I was a little boy playing mini rugby and to step on the pitch in front of the home crowd was a really special moment. I also think Hong Kong Sevens is the best Sevens tournament in the world. Players put on their best performance here…[and] for the crowd, it’s not only a rugby match to watch, it is also a 3 day party.”

 

Andy Yuen, former Hong Kong rugby player

This next weekend Hong Kong is heading to the first ever Tokyo Sevens and Yuen thinks, “Hong Kong has a good chance to do well and build on what they achieved in the Hong Kong Sevens.  They had a good tournament here and it was unfortunate to go out they way they did and I am sure that will be extra motivation for them to try and beat some of the ‘big teams’ in the tournament to stake their claim.”

 

Young rugby fans getting autographs from Hong Kong team

Finally, whether you are already an avid fan or not, these last statistics from the Hong Kong Tourism Board will really pique your interest in the Sevens phenomenon: A Hong Kong Tourism Board survey of the 2011 Hong Kong Sevens found that 73 percent of spectators were previous attendees, 97 percent of them said they would recommend the event to relatives and friends, and 90 percent of them planned to return this year for the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens.  Says Bosco, “The event is such a social event that “See you at the Sevens” is widely heard in March.”

With that many loyal and returning fans, we can only hope that the Hong Kong Sevens will continue to grow.  If you’re planning a trip to Hong Kong, March is most definitely the time to do it.  With or without Sevens tickets, the weather is perfect—winter is over and the humid monsoon season is about a month away—and the city is alive with an almost overwhelming energy of excitement, camaraderie, and expectation.

Maybe you’ll be saying it to us next year: “See you at the Sevens!”

————

Interested in traveling to Hong Kong for the Sevens in 2013? Do not hesitate to get in touch at info@wildchina.com.

 


Tags: Andy Yuen Hong Kong Andy Yuen rugby Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong Sevens Hong Kong sevens tickets Hong Kong travel Joseph Bosco wild China WildChina WildChina travel .








 

Private Journeys - Ask Us a Question

Please use the form below, or email us at info@wildchina.com, to tell us more about your travel plans, so that we can craft the itinerary of your dreams.

Trip Info:

Personal mPinFormation

Address

+1-123-456-7890

Other Info:

Please tell us about your dream trip, including your reasons for taking this journey to China (e.g. first time to China, to celebrate an occasion, better understand a specific place or cultural aspect of China, etc.). If you have questions, please browse our Frequetly Asked Questions page or post your question below.