Random Thoughts – Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Taiwan Edition

By the time this post publishes, I will be on the airplane heading back to Vancouver. As I write this, I’m on the 12th day of my 16-day business trip. Having been on the road for so many days, I am looking forward to going home!

Since my last update, I have been to Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Here are some random thoughts from my travels so far:

  • I took two domestic flights (Shenzhen Airlines and Hainan Airlines) while in China. Interestingly, meals were served on both flights (they were less than 2.5 hours long) and the service was very decent. You certainly wouldn’t have gotten free meals on domestic flights within Canada and US.
  • Originally I was scheduled to fly out from Hong Kong to Taiwan around 9 PM. I arrived at Hong Kong airport early in case any delays caused by anti-government protests. To my surprise, I was able to change my flight to an earlier flight without paying anything extra. If this was Air Canada I probably would have needed to pay $150 or more for changing my flight. Another win for Asian airlines.
  • While in Shenzhen I noticed that all the scooters were electric, just like what I observed in Shanghai. I also saw a lot of electric bicycles. Furthermore, all the taxis and buses in Shenzhen were electric. All of these electric cars and buses were made by BYD. In case you’re curious, BYD Co Ltd is a Chinese manufacturer of automobiles, battery-powered bicycles, buses, forklifts, rechargeable batteries, trucks, etc with its corporate headquarters in Shenzhen. It has two major subsidiaries, BYD Automobile and BYD Electronic. It was founded on February 1995. After a quick research, I learned that BYD has been exporting its battery vehicles and batteries to other countries. BYD used to be the leaders in the EV evolution in China but a lot of EV competitions have entered the market due to Chinese government subsidies. It was neat to see that the EV is advancing very quickly in China. As an investor, it may be worthwhile to take a look at Chinese EV companies to invest in.
  • On the other hand, scooters in Taipei were still on fossil fuel. I did notice a few electric scooters in Taipei, but they were the abnormally. Therefore, It was quite noisy walking around in Taipei due to two-stroke engine scooters zipping by. Not to mention the smelly exhausts from these scooters’ two-stroke engines. For me, it was interesting to spot the vast difference between scooters in China and Taiwan. Hopefully Taiwan will advance quickly when it comes to EV.
  • When I went through the Shenzhen/HK border, I noticed significantly fewer people at the border. Perhaps less people were going in HK due to all the protests? I wasn’t sure. There were only four people in front of me in the foreigners’ line, a vast difference compared to a year ago. I went through the Chinese and HK customs in less than 15 minutes. Last year in May, it took me almost an hour.
  • I wasn’t too worried about the HK protests before the trip. My work’s office is in Science Park, which is quite far away from downtown HK. I figured that I’d stay away from the downtown area in case there were any protests. As it turned out, I didn’t come across any protests while I was there (I ended up in downtown HK one of the nights for dinner with a customer). The security in the airport was heightened as travellers had to get their boarding passes and ID’s checked by police & security before they were allowed to enter the terminal. To be fair, I left Hong Kong before the weekend hits. From what I heard, the anti-government protests usually happened on weekends.
Fancy dessert from Shangri-La hotel in HK
  • A reader from Hong Kong contacted me about meeting up for coffee after reading my last update. Unfortunately, our timing didn’t work out. For me, it was super neat to find out there’s at least a reader of this blog from Hong Kong. 🙂
  • Taiwan is extremely affordable when it comes to eating out. Breakfast at a local breakfast hole-in-a-wall type place cost less than $3 CAD. Eating lunch or dinner at a food court in the department store cost less than $10 CAD. While in Taipei, I came across Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, a chained ramen restaurant that I am very familiar with. In Vancouver, a bowl of ramen from Santouka cost around $16 CAD after taking account of taxes and tips. In Seattle, a bowl of ramen from Santouka cost around $16 USD (~$21 USD) after taking account of taxes and tips. In comparison, a bowl of ramen from Santouka in Taipei cost less than $8 CAD (~$6 USD). My co-workers have told me that Taipei is about 15% more expensive than other Taiwanese cities. So I could imagine that a bowl of Santouka ramen would cost even less in cities like Taichung. This is exactly why Taiwan is a great place for geo-arbitrage.
All this for less than $10 CAD
A hole-in-the-wall type breakfast place. I waited in line for 20 minutes.
  • While walking around in Ningxia Night Market, I noticed all street vendors were using re-usable utensils and dishes. As someone who is environmentally conscious, I was very happy to see this. Because this meant a lot less garbage.
Food at night market. You can grill all of these
People everywhere!
Duck heads, duck hearts, duck tongues anyone? No thank you!
This place was super popular, the line up was two blocks long!
Night market entertainment
xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung
chocolate xiaolongbao. Yum yum!
  • While walking around in a bookstore in Taipei, I came across Tanja’s book, Work Optional, in Mandarin. I thought this was super cool (at Cents Positive, Tanja told me that her book is being printed in Taiwan, so I was on the lookout for her book).

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6 thoughts on “Random Thoughts – Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Taiwan Edition”

  1. Like your post, I’m always enjoy reading it. I have to admit I learned a lot from your blogs, now I’m taking the same approach as you doing my investments. Hopefully I can attain your current level in 5 years, thanks again for your hard work. Speaking of BYD, I think Warren Buffett is share holder.

  2. Great pictures! The HK protest is very fascinating to me. It seems like young people who’ve tasted freedom don’t want to give it up. Older people don’t care as much and mainland Chinese never really had a lot of freedom. It’s a tough fight that young people are bound to lose. I guess you probably didn’t talk about the protest much with the locals. It seems like a sensitive subject.
    Taiwan looks like fun. We’ll have to visit again someday.

    • Thanks Joe. Yea it’s fascinating what’s going on in HK. It was good that I left on Friday afternoon because the fellow Monday there were 3 separate instances (police shot a couple people, a pro-government man got lit up by anti-government protesters, and police ran through a bunch ppl with a motorbike). It seemed that the situation over in HK is getting a lot worse since I left.

      I did talk about the protest with the locals (different ages) and it was interesting to get their point of views.


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