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Hong Kong Ten Years On Part 6- Hong Kong and mainland is one big family

04-07-2011 17:13 BJT



It is the last day of 2006, and Mrs. Yuan is at the market in Sheung Shui shopping for "poon choi", a traditional local holiday dish made up of several layers of ingredients, that symbolizes auspiciousness. This evening she is throwing a big New Year's Eve party.

Sheung Shui is the nearest town from Mrs. Yuan's home in the "forbidden area", a small area of 28 square kilometers, extending a length of 35 kilometer along the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Mrs. Yuan's husband, Mr. Yuan Renji has been a long time resident in the "forbidden area." More than 100 years ago, the Sham Chun River (Shenzhen River) became a natural border that divided Lo Wu into two sections, the section in Hong Kong being called Lo Wu, while the section in Shenzhen became known as Luohu. As it happened, due to the location of the land they owned, Mr. Yuan's ancestors ended up becoming residents of Hong Kong. Nowadays, Mrs. Yuan's two cell phones can receive signals from both sides, highly convenient considering her husband's work involves travelling back and forth across the borders.

"He often calls me from Hong Kong or mainland. When he needs to get something done, he calls me and let me know what he needs. I often forward his messages to others, which is why I have two cell phones," said Yuan Renji's wife.

Yuan Ren Ji can see the busy traffic of Lo Wo from his home, and when the weather is good, he can even see Shenzhen, the hometown of his ancestors.

Sometimes he and his wife look through their old photo albums, and find themselves immersed in memories that are truly sweet.

"We had several wedding celebrations. We had a celebration with her family at Kowloon, another with my family in Sheung Shui, and my mother held yet another one for us in rural Shenzhen, which was the best as there was plenty of food, including chicken and pork. People from the whole village came to help and enjoy themselves. It was super! said Yan Renji, Hong Kong Resident.

The couple takes a walk every day along the border area, finding it enjoyable to look at the new skyscrapers springing up in Shenzhen and watch the hustle and bustle of Lo Wu.

At dusk, a herd of cattle can be seen returning to Shenzhen after feeding on the Hong Kong side for the day.

During the last thirty years, major changes have occurred in Shenzhen, the original hometown of Yuan Ren Ji's family. These days Luohu is the busiest place in Shenzhen, which today serves as China's busiest port of entry. 95% of Hong Kong residents who travel to the mainland carry the Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents, either in its old version or the new version issued in 1999. On this the last day of 2006, massive crowds of Hong Kong residents have been making their way through the port of entry at Lo Wu on their way home, and it will continue this way late into the night, until just before the arrival of the New Year.

"May everyone be happy and joyous, may every family be happy and joyous, may every child grow up quickly, and may everyone enjoy good health," said Yuan Renji's wife.

After Mr. Yuan and his family perform an ancestor-worship ritual, they busy themselves preparing for their big New Year's Eve party, to which more than 70 guests have been invited.

In Hong Kong, it isn't easy to find a residence as spacious as this one, but here there is plenty of room for the guests coming from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

The busy crowd continues to move through customs. Before the end of December the 31st, as many as 150,000 people will have made their way through the port of entry at Lo Wu in the course of the day.

In this room, ten years ago, Mr. Yuan and his family watched the ceremony in which the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred to China. To him, it was a great historical moment.

"For more than a century, people at Lo Wu were divided into two worlds. Now we've become one big family. I think it's great, "said Yuan Renji, Hong Kong Resident.

The bell rings to announce the imminent beginning of the New Year. 2007 will mark the tenth anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.

This Hong Kong tourist group, organized by Wing On Travel, is heading for Yingde in Guangdong Province. Since public holidays in Hong Kong last only two or three days, in recent years short distance tours have become very popular. During each of these holidays, several hundred tourist groups from Hong Kong make their way to Guangdong where, in these valuable few days away from the fast pace of their daily lives, they take the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature. For those who can afford more time, there are long distance vacation packages taking them to places as far away as Tibet or Heilongjiang Province. The vast expanse of China's mainland and the great variety of lifestyles to be enjoyed there have become easily accessible to increasing numbers of Hong Kong residents.

"Hong Kong is a small place with too many people. The parks are packed with people during holidays and weekends, "said tourist from Hong Kong.

As soon as the New Year holiday ends, Mr. Zeng Zhao Ping from Hong Kong resumes his work schedule in Guangdong. He is one of the many Hong Kong residents whose life involves working on both sides of the border. The Kowloon-Canton Railway East Rail runs between Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and Luohu in Shenzhen, and other towns and cities in Guangdong. The train has a 3,750 seating capacity and can transport 40,000 people each hour and, amazingly, it runs every 5 minutes.

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