Inward, Outward And Upward Looking

By P Chong

Tuesday, 6 July 1999

Of the nations in the world today, China stands out progressively tall and strong. It is as though the sleeping dragon is finally awakened. This appears to be the fear of the West, though an economically strong China is good commercially for all the trading nations in the West, politically China is deemed as great threat. It is feared that “once China stands up, it won’t topple or be toppled.”

In retrospect, China is undoubtedly the world’s greatest civilised nation over a continuous period of thousands of years – a civilisation undiminished & unbroken, unlike past civilisations like Egypt, Greece or the Romans. By any reckoning, China should have by now be far more advanced & superior than the rest of the world. Why not?

Of the many reasons why China did not progress beyond its initial lead in technology & discovery, the main cause of which can largely be attributed to its inward looking policy . . . viewing all territories beyond the Great Wall of China & its boundaries as barbarian nature. This nationalistic pride & closed door policy led to its seclusion, totally depriving itself from from the interchange of ideas and exposure to new scientific developments & industrial growth. While China lavished in its culture, philosophy & essentially non-materialistic form of development, it began to lag behind the West in terms of economic industrial growth. In preserving its civilisation from being tainted by corruption, disruption & deterioration, it never knew new growth, developments & discoveries elsewhere in the whole wide world. The “Middle Kingdom” realised too late the encroachment of other nations upon its shores & territories. Countries like Britain, Portugal & Japan were making inroads into China through modern superior arms of war instead of its age-old “kung-fu”.

To grow, to progress is to change. Sentiment must give way to progress. There is no room for inhibition to changes. Change needs to take place before growth ^& progress can be attained. It’s attitude more than aptitude that scales the altitude. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the great former prime minister of Singapore, is credited for the great strides achieved by the City State. His visionary ideas have no room for inhibition to change or any hindrance.

Now, what a change has come about as a result of Deng XiaoPing‘s visionary concept of “Xiang Qian Zou”. In Mandarin, it means “Forward Move”, but by replacing the middle word with similar pronunciation, it becomes “Moving Forward with Money”. This started a great frenzy for the Chinese striving for monetary progress in all spheres of work & life.

Capitalistic way of life does have its price. Greed always breed a profound loss of goodness in mankind. Simple honesty, truth, kindness & compassion are lost in the process. The dollar sign etched prominently on the foreheads of goal-getters. It is evident to an outside observer that the whole civilisation is transforming overnight. China, in its forward economic stride, has done away with its traditional large families, and its door is wide open to the corrupt western way of life. There is a price to be paid, for consequential results cannot be avoided.

We are not about to discuss the forward march of China & the loss of a whole generation of tradition, custom, simple courtesy & good manners, which come about as a result of its Cultural Revolution.

We want however, to draw a comparative study between China and the United States of America, which has only a history of some 200 odd years, and yet progressively more advanced. Why is this so? The irony of this is even more profound when we compare US with Great Britain – the tag of British “greatness” pales in significance. And to think America started as a colony of Britain! What then is the significant attributable factor?

This factor is spelt out very clearly when we look at the green bag note. It says very clearly: “In God We Trust”. It is this upward and outward attitudinal outlook that made all the difference between Britain & the US, and China & the US. The American look upward to God for all its needs & provisions since the first Pilgrim Fathers stepped on the shore of the new continent. Because of its explicit trusting the Lord, America has been greatly blessed and it prospered beyond the realms of the other nations with similar history or longer history.

Apart from this upward attitudinal outlook, it practises an outward outlook beyond its shore and adopt an open door policy in the many aspects of its economy. In so doing, it was to absorb and gain both from within and without the world the wealth of knowledge towards its rapid advancement.

On the personal front, the individual musty avoid being inward looking. The classic example is drawn from the Pharisees, the elite Jewish ruling council, highbrowed, stiff-necked & self-centred in character. They rejected Jesus as the Messiah (the Jews’ promised deliverer) and till today they are still awaiting His coming. Ever wonder re the p,light of the “wandering Jews”? Being persecuted and hated wherever they are? It is without doubt God’s punishment of the Jews for crucifying Christ on the cross! Not until the Jews find their roots in the Messiah Jesus, will their wandering stop!!

In Matthew 23:13, it reads: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

Verse 27:Woe to you, teachers of the law & Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs,which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones & everything unclean. In the same way,on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Verse 39 concludes with this: “For I tell you,you will not see me again until you say “Blessed is he who comers in the name of the Lord.”

How prophetically true what Jesus said. Until & unless the Jews find repose in Jesus, their perils will not be over!!

In John 14:6, the terminology is always on the personal basis: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus has given us the road map guiding us upward to heaven, and to stay in the centre of God’s will. You need not worry about tomorrow and trust Jesus to guide you one day at a time, and to follow him even though you don’t know the way. No other road map is required.

Abram followed one day at a time. He walked by faith and not by sight. As in genesis 12: 1 -5, we read:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country,

your people and your father’s household and go to

the land I will show you.”

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless

you. I will make your name great, and you will be

a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be a blessed through you.”

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan and they arrived there.”

Abram (whose name was changed by God to Abraham) is the classic example of the principle of “walking by faith, rather than by sight . . . one day at a time”. In walking with the LORD, ourselves must be erased, the LORD must be raised. There is a definite attitudinal shift from self-centrednerss to God-cent redness.

In John 15:5 it says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and in him, he will bear much ruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Thus the way to be is: inwardness to upwardness. Amen.

The above account is in essence the salient points of a religious message

first delivered in a Sunday church gathering in July 1999.


Tianmen Shan – Hunan, China

Tianmen Shan – Heaven’s Gate

James Cameron‘s recent epic movie “Avatar” (Floating Mountains) no doubt helps to promote the spectacular wonders of the Chinese mountain scenic attractions.

All too well, people have long been familiar with the ancient mountains located around the vast Chinese landscape so mysteriously depicted in Chinese paintings.

The five famous mountains – Huangshan, Taishan, Huashan, Hengshan & Songshan are now facing competitions with newer discoveries such as Tianmen Shan or Tianmen Mountain.(Chinese Mandarin word“Shan” means “Mountain”).

Tianmen Mountain in Hunan Province just south of Zhangjiajie City (previously known as Dayong City) is an absolutely ‘must see’ scenic area.

The main featured scenic spots are centralized in the north part of Zhangjiajie City – Wulingyuan Scenic Area which became China‘s first National Forest Park in 1983.

Cable Cars

The best way to get to the top is by cable car. A one-way trip costs CNY48. The roads are scary with many twists & turns & certainly not for the faint-hearted.








Big Gate Road

If you have more time to stay in Zhangjiajie , there are lots of places you may want to visit . . . to fill your thrills & frills . . . too many to mention here because of time & space constraint.

A scenic spot you might enjoy is the Feng Huang Cheng (Phoenix Town) located some 210 kilometers (about 130 miles) west of Zhangjiajie Village. Here you can experience that Chinese minorities lead a life of primitive simplicity unaffected by the ways of modern development. This raises the question that in the failing realm of capitalism, shouldn’t economists consider the aspect of GDH instead of GDP – H as in HAPPINESS rather than P in PRODUCTIVITY. Could you be content & happy living just a basic lifestyle?

Finally, the newly opened Yangjiajie Scenic Area located in the northwest section of Wulingyuan is worth a visit.

Like they say “A picture is worth a thousand words”, you’ll be amazed by the slide show as presented by pps creator Dan Calistrat or view on YouTube the airflights through the Heaven’s Gate.

Flying Through Heaven’s Gate


This is  China’s newest tourist spot with a glass-bottomed walkway around the cliff face of the Tianmenshan – a feature similar to the Skyway of the Grand Canyon in US. However, this is of greater  distance 200 ft long & stands at 4,700 ft. above sea-level.

To walk on it is to test your nerves, to see whether your heart can stand the dazzling height!

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Jumbo Floating Restaurant – Aberdeen, Hong Kong

A mural in the restaurant
Image via Wikipedia - Ancient Mural

Dine like an emperor with a “six-star” sumptuous dinner at the dragon court of this most famous Hong Kong landmark in Aberdeen.

Make it a memorable occasion & have your photo taken dressed in traditional imperial garments sitting on the emperor’s throne.

Source: Wikipedia - Full View at Night

Jumbo Kingdom (traditional Chinese: 珍寶王國) consists of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant (珍寶海鮮舫) and the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant (太白海鮮舫), renowned tourist attractions in Hong Kong‘s Aberdeen Harbour.

Popular for Weddings & Lavish Functions

Over 30 million visitors have visited Jumbo Kingdom, including Queen Elizabeth II, John Wayne, Tom Cruise, Chow Yun-fat and Gong Li. Jumbo Kingdom is part of Melco International Development Limited (新濠國際發展有限公司), a company listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The Jumbo Kingdom was established in October 1976 by Dr. Stanley Ho. It took four years and over HK$30 million to design and build it. It was originally decorated in the style of an ancient Chinese imperial palace.

Free motor launch transport

The Jumbo Kingdom recently underwent a major multi-million dollar renovation, which transformed it into “a theme park on the sea” including dining, shopping, sightseeing and cultural attractions.

Jumbo Entrance

A Chinese culinary school taught by the chefs

of Jumbo Kingdom has been established.

Visitors can experience the nostalgic Hong Kong dining experience from a bygone era, the Typhoon Shelter seafood meal on a sampan.

The Chinese Tea Garden, Pier Plaza & Bronzew are Exhibition are additional attractions.

Since its opening in 1976 as the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, it has excelled in the preparation of seafood for discerning diners. Designed like a classic Chinese palace, it can accommodate up to 2,300 people. Situated in Aberdeen Harbour, the Jumbo is one of the world’s largest floating restaurants and an iconic tourist landmark of Hong Kong.

Inside Jumbo Floating Restaurant (Hong Kong)
Image via Wikipedia - Interior

The combination of good food & place makes eating all the more pleasurable!

Colours & lights at night add on to the romantic delight!

HK Sunset Cruise By Chinese Junk

A romantic & worthwhile proposition is a Sunset Cruise plus dinner at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant!

A Wonderful Life . . .

Starring: Ronald Cheng, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Vincent Kok, Teresa Mo, Yuk-Wah So   – It’s A Wonderful Life. 2007

The reality of life is that we are born to die. The future is set & final. It’s only the question of when & how – over which we have absolutely no choice or control.

From the womb to the tomb, one room in the ground is certainly waiting for us. There’s no escaping!

Some people always look to the future – moving forward, moving on, living for tomorrow, hoping for a better day. Others are grounded in the present and still others spend a lot of time reliving their past affairs and accomplishments.

Imagine the possibility of these scenarios:

  • Living a life without limits (Refer T D Jakes’ Reposition Yourself)
  • To have the option of living all over again repeatedly. (Refer “Groundhog Day” 1993)
  • To live life backwards – instead of living in a forwardly linear progression. (As propounded by T. H. White in “Living Backwards or In Reverse”). One takes inspiration from the past, energy from the present and vision from the future

Most will agree that living in the present is the most favourable and realistic rather than the three mindsets mentioned above. The present is all we have & anything that we can be certain of.

Often, in word processing software, we use the Un-Do button. Ever experienced a “faux pas” and wish life itself came equipped with such a key? Regrets live in that rear view mirror and no longer affect you. Hitting un-do brings the past back to the present only to force you to relive it. So, whenever you feel you’ve chosen poorly, forgive yourself and move on. There is no “retry” no “re-do” and no “un-do” to our experiences. What’s done belongs to history and you choose to either live with it and make it right the next time under similar circumstances or you can live your life in a constant loop of regret and blame. Life teaches us we can’t “un-do” anything. Choose instead to learn and grow. Make the best out of the circumstances.

In his song, “I Love The Now,” singer songwriter Jimmy Buffett writes:

Tomorrow’s right around the corner

I’ll get there somehow

But I’m stuck in the meantime

And I love the now.”

The movie“Holiday” is about Johnny, a thirty-year-old man, played by Gary Grant who decides that he would like to use what little money he has to take a few years off for self-discovery. Afterward, he’ll be ready to settle down to a life of work and responsibility. Johnny feels, ‘Why wait until you’re old and sick to retire?’. That’s doing things backwards & it’s most mundane.

They say that “Youth is wasted on the young”. Alternatively, it’s often said “Don’t grow up so fast” or “Don’t grow old but grow up!” No matter how old you are, grab hold of that youthful spirit and natural ferocity and go for it. It may take some bending over backwards, but life happens now and the future becomes a memory in an instant.

Here’s Woody Allen’s Perspective on Living Backwards.

Woody Allen describes why he wants his next life to be in reverse, starting old and getting younger. Source:

I love words. It’s why I write & read. Also why I love lyrics and poems and movies. Words are powerful. They need to be guarded, for no retrieving is possible once they depart from our mouth. Most of us use words for the purpose of communication. Some of us wield words like artists wield brushes, painting something beautiful and or compelling out of what could have been merely mundane. Good writers have the ability to “paint with words”.

The Great Wall of China

By P Chong                                                                                                     Saturday, 26 December 2009

"Wan Li Chang Cheng" 1989

Wan Li Chang Cheng” – literally means “Ten Thousand Miles Wall.” It’s not one great wall but a monumental series of wall that constitute The Great Wall of China. They were erected over the centuries to thwart & deter the barbaric invaders from encroaching upon the Middle Kingdom. The Wall twists through Chinese dynastic history. Today the nation welcomes visitors near & far together with their wallets. What the visitors, more than a million a year, really see is the impressive gleaming stretch of wall at Juyongguan near Beijing. Such commercialisation is marring an archaeological treasure as claimed by preservationists.

Teaming crowd of visitors

It’s been more than a fifth of a century since I first stepped & climbed The Great Wall of China. To tell you the truth, the feeling & excitement were simply beyond me! I had led a party of ten to China, all of them virgins in this world of ancient civilisation. Coincidentally, May/June 1989, saw the Tiananmen political debacle undertaken by the students.

In all the years since the landing on the moon, Western writers declared, with absolutely no evidence that the Great Wall could be seen from there. But what Deng Xiaoping, the small & yet most dynamic of a man, proclaimed “Let us love our China, let us restore our Great Wall” has become a well-known slogan.

In the passage of time, I have seen great growth, progress & changes:

From Friendship Stores to Departmental Stores

From virtually no phone to modern convenient cell phones

From million bicycles to million vehicles.

This is truly representative of a complete transformation & material revolution unseen & unheard of in the history of mankind! All within one lifetime, one generation!!

However, there are walls which tourists seldom get to see or visit in the outer reaches where there are crumbling sections of the Wall awaiting attention & preservation.The crumbling walls were never far away, a companion piece to the halfway stage of China’s rush to progress.

Visibly, there are signal towers & walls that stretched out for miles in ruins & villages entirely contained by high-walled forts for security purposes in the ancient days. Some homes carved out from the Walls have 20-foot-thick walls – “Very warm in the winter, cool in the summer”.

"With courtesy of Richard Chiang who purchased it from the Wushipu Oil Painting Village of Xiamen in May 2008.”

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It is truly amazing! Now that the smoke signals are replaced by cell phones, what is there in store for the ruined parts of the Wall where even certain sections have disappeared. Will modernity bury archaeology? Will a history of more than 2,000 years be lost in a time vault or capsule?

Eating Out in Hong Kong

Eating Out In Hong Kong

30230632.CRW_6849_RJaJumbo – Famous Floating Seafood Restaurant

Chinese are known for their culinary skills, and the dominant presence of Chinese restaurants in foreign lands reflects that. It is generally acceptable that Chinese food is tasty and most palatable. In Perth, for example, on a per capita basis there are more Chinese restaurants than anywhere else I know. Eating out in a Chinese restaurant on a Friday evening is a norm among the Aussies.

Perhaps, when you look at the life style in Hong Kong, where living space is a premium, and where people generally work right round the clock, then you begin to understand why Hongkies choose to eat out. The roaring trade of the restaurants here does not in any way indicate that the economy is down. People are still entertaining out or eating out with their families. Most families generally don’t have the luxury of proper dining room or kitchen facility adequately made for entertainment. Seldom you get an invitation from your Hong Kong friends to dine at their homes. Most meeting and entertainment whether social or otherwise are done outside the home.

Shopping in Ikea the other day provided an interesting experience, particularly in the café section. We were utterly surprised to see a great number of students doing their schoolwork there. Considering that the place, public though it is, probably provide a more conducive environment than the home for their studies. The management gladly permit them to linger on. Rightly and profitably too this crowd does form a sizeable clientele. Another venue popular with students is the many outlets of McDonalds and KFC. The availability of community libraries may be a solution for the students.

People are naturally gregarious and habitually gather together or congregate at “mahjong” tables or in the morning favour Dim Sim Houses for “Yum Cha”. Having lived for some twenty-six years in Perth where “Yum Cha” has taken on even with the Aussies, the atmosphere of such Dim Sim places is utterly different. Forget about the limit of noise pollution. In there all rules are broken. Don’t be annoyed that you can’t even hear your own self. Back in 1972 on our first visit to Hong Kong, we noticed that people literally had to queue by your table, waiting to pounce upon your vacating it. Today this may not be so, but people still queue outside with allotted numbers.

SSJhongkong3nttables.JPGSeafood Restaurant Serving Fresh Seafood

Our son and daughter-in-law took us to a rooftop restaurant in City One, Shatin, where full-suit attired male waiters serve on their diners. We had expected a quieter atmosphere, but not so even with all its grandeur. I guess Hongkies are generally loud people. Hong Kong must be the noisiest city in the world. Perhaps, if the floor is carpeted and the walls soundproof . . . but then the authenticity will be altered. All would seem so alien. The busy pressure of serving, the noise generated by the diners, and the impatient diners all contribute towards the “fun and joy” of dining out in Hong Kong. I guess this is one experience quite unlike anywhere in the world. But generally the food is good and the price . . . well, it depends where you dine or what you compare with.

For all its shortfalls, Hong Kong cooks are about the best there is in all China and possibly in the world. Whatever the outcome, people will continue to eat out! I guess this is one of the simple pleasures in life. With the famed roast goose and such seafood paradise as Lei Yue Mun and Sok Kwu Wan, sometimes I wonder whether we eat to live or live to eat!


Paul Chong ©