Gabriel Barbee, Nancy Bee, Ziv Glikman, Nick Jacobs, Sooryakala Jeyasooria, Tracy Lu, Edward O’Neill, Hina Patel, Robin Pier & Stephen O. Roberts review the superlatives that make our adopted home unique.
MOST CRITICIZED ARTICLE
Only a few articles in HERE! Dongguan over the years have been controversial. After all this is a guide for living in the city, not a community gossip board. One “problematic” article that comes to mind is actually the type of criticism we’re happy to take, though it did make us feel a little bad. It was a case of a successful April Fool’s joke. As usual, we were doing our April Fool’s item in the magazine and we came up with doing a restaurant review for the “new” Taco Bell. We thought it would be great. People will be excited, asking “What? Where?” They’d quickly realized we had gotten them. Our mistake was that we had hinted at a location. The result was a few disappointed/angry emails and phone calls from readers who went out looking. We fooled them, a little too well.
MOST RATS EATEN
Seeing items that seem strange to foreigners on the menus in Guangdong is just normal, a direct effect of the famine causality. In contrast, modern China is full of news and complaints of food quality and scamming street vendors substituting rodent for goat and lamb. But as much as perspectives can differ between countries, the same is true of towns in Dongguan. Machong Town menus serve delicacies entitled “mouse stem pork” and “rat top three chickens,” with early winter, when they can be seen sun drying in dozens, being the best season for catching the little rats. Because it is possible to pay up to RMB 60 per kilogram for dried rat bacon Machong definitely has the Most Rats Eaten.
MOST DANGEROUS WOMEN
Believe it or not, Dongguan has its very own bunch of superwomen – the Dongguan SWAT team. They hands-down receive the tip of the hat for being the Most Dangerous Women. The Cheetah Commandos (self-named) can do everything their male counterparts can, and just as well, including free-form sparring, rappelling and marksmanship. Currently 10 women make up the team, most of whom did stints in the Marine Corps or Special Forces. According to team leader Huang Shaohong, members must be at least 1.65 meters tall, have military experience and years of rigorous training. It goes without saying that these women are tough, but why an all-female SWAT team? According to Huang, criminals aren’t wary of female police officers, so it’s easy for these wonder women to be covert and often, more effective.
MOST LISTENED TO RADIO STATION
Starting with Hit Music Flow and peaking with four hours of Ryan Seacrest’s American Top 40 from 10 to midnight, there is a very low likelihood that any English speaker in the area has not taken notice of the 88.5 MHz frequency of Dongguan’s airwaves. As a subsidiary of China Radio International, Hit FM comes from Guangzhou and is heard in any taxi controlled by younger, hipper drivers. And if you’re like me you wait for the DJ to introduce the next block of songs with his well practiced, “Oh Yeah! Rock the house.”
MOST HISTORIC STREET
History is a funny thing here. A place that is understood to be one of the longest lasting civilizations, due to periods of instability, often cannot produce concrete examples of that timeline. Luckily Guandong’s Department of Culture has come up with its list of Famous Historical and Cultural Villages and Streets to clear up the situation, and Shilong’s Zhongshan Road was named last year to the list as Dongguan’s first historic and cultural street. The requirements to make the list say that the areas should at least be built before the Republic of China (1912) and be well preserved. Zhongshan Road’s Ming and Qing Dynasty Lignan style Qi Lou buildings, evidently make the grade as our Most Historic Street.
Urbandictionary.com defines underground as “art, opinion or organization that exists outside of mainstream society or culture.” If we are to follow this definition to categorize Dongguan’s Most Underground Bar, than we must choose the newly opened Brown Sugar Jar Livehouse. Since August it has been booking independent acts from around the region country and world to play at its Wanjiang location.
The search for megastructures in Dongguan always leads to the impressive bridge that spans over the estuary of the Pearl River. The Humen Bridge is currently the 34th longest suspension bridge in the world with its main span of 888 meters and full length of almost five kilometers. It connects Dongguan’s Humen Town and the Nansha District of Shenzhen, and has a substantial transportation role throughout the PRD. It was completed in 1997 and for many years was ranked much higher on the world’s longest list, though it had never been the longest, like some people like to say. Upon completion, the new overpass cut the way from Hong Kong and Shenzhen to Zhuhai by a whopping 120 kilometers
Many of us know Jason Cakebread (Most Appetizing Last Name?) as the manager of One for the Road English Pub. His place has been a staple in Dongguan for the last seven years. What most of you don’t know is that Jason is also an official Dongguan representative for the British Consulate-General Guangzhou. It began after hosting British seminars. The Consulate noticed the size of the community and Jason’s network. The position requires him to lend assistance to U.K. nationals seeking aid and report back to the consulate when they can’t do so themselves. If you know Mr. Cakebread a little, you’d agree that the official title, Consular Warden, fits him just right.
Have you ever noticed that on Hongfu Road, in the Dongguan Government Central Square, there are two exhibition centers? While one of them is actually the Exhibition and Convention Center of the city, where trade shows take place, the other, smaller building is the Dongguan City Museum Unfortunately the marquee says Dongguan Exhibition Center. Actually, the name Dongguan Exhibition Center is correct in the sense that there’s a permanent exhibition about Dongguan inside this center. However, in this trade driven, industrial PRD, trade shows take the tone when one thinks about an exhibition center.
Until a few years ago Dongguan was full of motorbikes used as taxis, family vehicles and, all too often, in crime. They were the centerpiece of the bag-snatching, drive-away easy-to-execute daylight robberies. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the worst way to get robbed in a heartbeat. The Most Devious way we know, with firsthand experience, is the dust-blowing technique. A lady expat was strolling with her baby in Dongcheng when she suddenly became disoriented and dizzy as if in a fit of momentary amnesia. She remembers seeing a hand in the tiny bag crossed over her body. Upon regaining her composure, she realized that her mobile phone was missing and ran after a guy she saw running away. The dust that was blown in her face as a distraction could have been narcotic, but police say it was likely herbal.
MOST RANDOM STATUE
Our city displays plenty of statues in various squares and public areas, yet this one stands alone in its meaninglessness. The thumb statue on Nancheng Walking Street is hard to forget among the lingering bitter smells of coffee coming from the nearby Nestle factory. Unlike the regular statue choice of the city, the old-Chinese-people-sitting-on-a-bench-doing-something-Chinese-ish, this glorified extremity just stands there, unexplained. And while it would be logical to think it symbolizes the universal sign thumbs-up, we can’t help but think that maybe someone’s giving us the finger.
Dongguan suffers no shortage of news of the weird, but this category must be awarded to one of the city’s most famous love/hate stories. On what must have been one of the summer’s hotter days, tempers flared for a young couple in Nancheng on July 20. Though public displays of affection are rarely acceptable, this eruption of anger led an arguing couple to enter the busy street of Qifeng Road. As the boyfriend made his plumage-strutting point by taking off his shirt, his girlfriend topped him in dramatic fashion by losing her top and bottom as traffic honked and swerved around the squawking lovebirds. Picked up by The Huffington Post and with at least 90 hits on the Internet, this strip show stops traffic as our Most Viral.
With all these superlatives about Dongguan, it’d be great if there was some international literature so the outside world could learn about it too. We’re in luck because Dongguan is the subject of Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang. She decided to depict the perspective of female workers, particularly in response to negative press surrounding working conditions in China’s factories. She came to none other than Dongguan to document the lives of two migrant workers who were born to poor farming families, following them for over three years. It was named one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2008 and received the 2009 PEN USA Literary Award for Research Nonfiction, and the Asian American Literary Award for nonfiction.
This may be the least contended category in the The HERE! 100 Most. This summer a passenger had only moments before exiting a taxi on Dongcheng’s bar street when a speeding drunk drove his sports car into the back fender of the taxi. The impact was reported to have been so violent that it sent the entire back half of the taxi spinning about 30 meters away. The 20-year-old driver is facing charges of driving under the influence and the passenger is facing the images of their life as it flashes in front of their eyes. This passenger is certainly Dongguan’s Most Lucky.
In Dongguan, one building stands above them all. Proud, shiny-new and foreign owned. Wait, what? No, no, no. That won’t do. Motivated by national pride alone, rumor has it, in response to the Taiwanese Businessmen’s Association Tower in Nancheng. In the beginning of 2012, as the main structure of the TBA Tower was just completed, the land across Hongfu Road was parceled for over RMB 1.5 billion by the Minying Group, an establishment consisting of over 40 domestic non-government enterprises and real estate developers such as Winnerway, Everbright and New Century. The site will become a 398 meter high headquarters for the group, 100 meters taller than its puny foreign neighbors. Ha, ha-ha-hah.
For years now, Germany, followed by Mexico, has topped this nation’s list of beer importers. In 1961, the average Chinese person drank half a bottle of beer a year, 27 in 1991 and by 2007 almost 103 beers per adult were consumed. Today, China’s beer industry is the largest in the world, but the cold import war has been won by German beer. Locals seem to prefer the fruity, sweet flavors of the wheat beers and it’s becoming more and more evident as the trending movement hangs its signs advertising “Germany Beer,” or simply names the bar German Beer. This symbol of Western friendliness has officially superseded the Santa face poster as Most Trendy.
When it comes to marketing and free press, charity is the name of the game. But when it comes to charity for the sake of charity, though, there have been a few in Dongguan over the years, the most standard and long lasting answer must be Treasure of Hope and the work that their group of volunteers, led by TOH Manager Aaron Burns, succeed in performing. Donations and proceeds from the charity store go directly to three organizations, Haven of Hope Children’s Home, Captivating International and HANDA. But it is their hands-on work with children, youth and adults that lands them comfortably in the lead as Most Charitable.
Back in the days from early MTV, lasting at least until the Seattle Grunge rock scene died, the most popular place for the rebellious youth of the generations to hang and catch up on all that was cool was the surf/skateboard shop. Today in China a similar trend is found. Instead of the sanded wood and wax of the skate shop, it’s the single gear bikes shops opened by young, passionate wheeled sport enthusiasts. Many of them in Dongguan can be found harboring young layabouts, but one in particular lends itself to a good old fashioned hangout. The ever changing décor, continually upgrading furniture and addition of a tobacco/coffee shop of Vision Bikes in Guangcheng makes it the Most Hip Bike Shop.
MOST OBVIOUS NIGHTLIFE
The business meetings that would in the past take place at a loud KTVs are now moving toward more chilled establishments for adult beverages, and many have been opening all over town. New places are trying to capitalize on the business that a nightlife district can fertilize, but there is only one go-to district in Dongguan. It is so obvious that we could easily skip it, but as long as staple Western bars keep it up, new spots keep coming with fresh trends, and the massive nightclubs keep renovating to stay in with modern fads, Jiǔbā jiē, or Dongcheng Bar Street, will remain the Most Obvious Nightlife.
It is pretty common that China, when in need of a promotional title or a descriptive superlative, makes it up as it goes along. With adjectives like biggest, with a list of subcategories that become so laughably long it seems any local idol could make the list of the Seven Wonders of the World. When you hear that Dongguan Avenue, the highway that runs center through Dongcheng and Nancheng, has made the country’s list of most beautiful roads, coming in at a strong second place, you may be libel to snicker because of the city’s subway project is hiding its beauty. But that doesn’t subtract from what lies at the highway’s heart – a meandering subtropical jungle park snaking through the median and Dongguaner’s lives.
MOST DREADFUL DRIVERS
It’s the age-old question that never seems to go away. Who is more skilled, man or woman? When it comes to driving, throw stereotypes aside, because Dongguan’s men are dangerous. By the end of 2011, 30 percent of registered drivers were female and according to Dongguan’s traffic authority, data shows that women are more careful on the road. Most drive for personal or family reasons, rather than professionally, and account for just seven percent of accidents. Out of 3,559 traffic accidents that year, only 253 involved female drivers. Even more telling is the fact that most accidents caused by female drivers resulted in minor injuries and were not serious collisions. Perhaps the notion that courtesy, patience and caution are feminine traits is a valid stereotype. For whatever reason, in Dongguan women seem to be keeping the roads safer.
In today’s world and throughout history, if a town wants to be considered a city, and a city wants to be considered important, building high has always been the standard. Our version of the all important Central Wealth District can be found in the new Nancheng center of the city. And at this point it is crowned by the 289-meter high, 72-story Taiwan Business Association Tower, proving that our grouping of 28 towns and four districts is a metropolis after all.
Back in July, the magazine wrote about the fresh paint faces of the street art scene. It turned out that the artists were surprisingly brazen. We expected camera shy, mask wearing, shadow-lingerers. But what we found were some talented young designers getting some raw experience by painting up the walls of the old city center of Guancheng. With its plentitudes of canvas space, like the long white walls on Zhenhua Road and the back alleys of Xiangyang Road, there is no other place that can be named as the Most Graffiti.
MOST DOGS EATEN
There are two spots in Dongguan that are infamous for serving up man’s best friend, and they are a lot closer to you than you may think. In fact, dining on late night snacks on Dongcheng South Street’s BBQ row, may put you dangerously close. The most famous dog meat dish, Leizhou dog stew, can be found there, but the title of Most Dogs Eaten goes to Nancheng’s Yingfeng Road because, while the BBQ street serves it, the true Dongguan connoisseurs eat at Yingfeng Lu.
Cultural differences supply a plethora of curiosities to the unassimilated traveling businessman or fresh school recruit, and many of those inquiring minds question the domains of health and services. It is not so uncommon to notice the bus stop posters advertising the Dongguan Port Male Hospital, and more likely that you have been to have your health check here (no matter what your gender may be). So you may be asking yourself, “Self, what actually happens in there?” Well, we’re not going to clue you in; that would curtail your curiosity. We will suggest their website (dg16.com) because its unusually erotic images will only increase your inquisitiveness.
Most statues built in Dongguan have spiritual significance, and this is also true of the biggest statue in Dongguan. The Guanyin Statue on Guanyin Mountain is named after the Buddhist goddess called Guanyin. Many local people believe the statue that sits atop a temple, where pilgrims try fortune telling and make donations to Buddhism, brings luck to their prayers and sons to their wombs. Located in Zhangmutou Town, the National forest park is famous for its widespread vegetation, beautiful scenery and its Guanyin Statue. At a height of 33 meters, weighing 3,300 tons and made from 999 stone blocks, it is the world’s largest granite Guanyin statue, and Dongguan’s Most Gigantic statue.
MOST POWERFUL PERSON
Who’s the boss? Many believe that in a city, the mayor is the man. But that’s just not so. If you want to get something done in Dongguan, you need to be speaking to the CPC Party Secretary Xu Jianhua. The mayor, in Dongguan it’s Yuan Baocheng, presides over the overall work being asked of the municipal government. True. But think of him more as a task manager, while the secretary is “the core of leadership” in charge of the region’s political, economic, cultural and social development, according to the CPC regulations on local committees.
Every day, trucks heavily loaded with cattle come and go to Hengli’s Cattle Market, the longest existing agricultural market in Dongguan. Seeing tens of thousands of mooing cows for sale is convincing enough to list Hengli Cattle Transactions as our Most Heavy. But what is more profound is that this market started at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a time when agriculture dominated. Without sophisticated measurement devices large enough to weigh the animals, experts emerged to decide weight by sight. After nearly five centuries the transaction agents and the market still lives, maintaining not only a robust trade, but also a historic and cultural importance. The market was selected as a provincial intangible cultural heritage site, insuring this beefy choice makes the list.
MOST COMMON HEADACHE
For most of the time finding a taxi in Dongguan is easy. However, as the dreaded change of shift at 5:30 p.m. approaches, they vanish. Confused pedestrians look around for any sign of a taxi. When they do spot one, the driver usually already has a fare or refuses to stop. While pedestrians argue with the drivers and with each other, a feeling of hopelessness overcomes them. Will they ever see another taxi? Will they be stuck here forever? Will they ever make it back home to see their families again? By 7:30 the taxis have reappeared and everything has returned to normal, but the next day it will start all over again.
Dongguan’s ambition to leap forward from a manufacturing hub to a high-tech cluster is displayed in its construction of the Songshan Lake Industrial Park, which is, insofar, the most presentable high-tech incubator. After approval as a National High-tech Industrial Development Zone, it is considered a driving force to lead a “transform and upgrade” of the city. Stepping in, people will catch a whole different picture of Dongguan: no low-end factories or crowded roads, but instead green vegetation, a clear reservoir and many unaffordable villas. One of its scenic spots even tops a list of tourist attractions across the city, showcasing that development should not come at the cost of the environment. With plenty of attention and emphasis, the Songshan Lake is our Most High Tech.
MOST HONG KONGESE
The population frequently cycling between Hong Kong and Dongguan entwine the two places, and Changping, a town in eastern Dongguan, has the most conveniently accessible traffic for Hong Kong-Mainland travelers. Changping’s ranking in township transportation is unparalleled. It’s the first station for the direct trains linking Kowloon and Guangzhou. Pleasure seekers from Hong Kong can easily rush over to taste the colorful night life and enjoy revelrous fun. Hong Kong-style hotels, bars, restaurants and houses have spread throughout. As its attributes are altered, more and more Hong Kongers choose to stay, so Changping takes the status of Most Hong Kongese.
Social worker is a profession requiring the expertise of friendliness and helpfulness. Although considered a relatively new career, thousands of youthful social workers devote their energy and passion to the needy. Zhou Rixi, a community social worker in Shilong’s old neighborhood, where tons of seniors are left behind, is charged with taking care of the poor and lonely elderly. To sway the suspicious old folk, Zhou and her colleagues must show determination and patience, visiting them and explaining their job again and again. They organize activities and studies, while bringing the community together. With her hard work and good heart, Zhou deserves to be the magazine’s Most Friendly.
Weibo is fresh and amusing, and the most popular account in Dongguan should go to Pop Dongguan. The popularization of the twitter-like social networking platform, gives Dongguaners more channels to see what’s happening. Pop Dongguan, an account affiliated to the online forum Popdg.com, surely shares the aspirations of netizens. Abundant local content, concerning cuisine and snacks, special people, entertainment, what-is-fun and more, captures viewers’ attention. It has nearly 300,000 followers, not high compared to some other Weibo accounts with official backgrounds, but considering its local interaction and influence we can’t ignore it.
MOST UNDERGROUND CLUB
This place is so underground, we could only find four Weibo posts about it. We’re not sure if this place matches the cutting edge connotation that comes with the title of this category, but the centerpiece of this night spot is not a grouping of tightly packed tables. It has :suspense builds: a dance floor. A dance floor that bounces. Filled with young sweaty teenagers and college aged kids, Shan Shan (闪闪) is so happening and cool that we had to promise not to tell where it is. Just kidding, it’s at No. 6 Hongyuan Road near the Winnerway Hotel.
The basketball monument at Dongguan City Stadium reads, “City of Basketball.” Dongguan people surely take great pride in the title. The first professional Chinese basketball club, Guangdong Hongyuan, was born in Dongguan in 1991. Altogether eight Dongguan players have joined China’s National Men’s Basketball Team. Basketball stars such as Yi Jianlian, the fourth Chinese player to play for the NBA, captured nationwide attention. The Southern Tigers have won eight CBA Championships. There are more than 20,000 basketball courts in the city. All those glorious facts show that Dongguan lives up to its nickname. Dongguaners’ passion for basketball ignites a feeling that the game is a lifestyle, not a mere sport. Dongguan promotes its positive image across China via basketball, therefore basketball scores in the category of Most Proud.
MOST VISITED SITE
Dongguan netizens define their lifestyle by searching for local information online, and the Most Visited Site for them should go to Sun0769.com. Typing “Dongguan” in the search engine Baidu, the first related key word appearing is sun0769.com. Set up in 2005 in affiliation with Dongguan Television and Broadcasting Station, it is the first and only news Web site in Dongguan to be approved by the State Internet Office. Sun0769.om provides diverse news, video and entertainment content, but what makes it most well-received are its real-time links to its BBS that continually roll across its front page. Netizens post their discoveries and complaints, hoping for exposure from the TV station. According to Alexa Internet, Inc., the ranking and hits of Sun0769.com top our virtual world.
Those that are new in town and wanting to get to know the people, where to buy groceries or find playmates for the kids have a one stop shop. All these newcomer puzzles are easily solved by an organization mainly aimed at expat women in Dongguan: Ni Hao Neighbors. With coffee mornings to get to know people and network, updates on classes from fitness to cooking, activity groups for 9-month-olds to middle-aged adults, fun outings are only some of the ever so useful services that Ni Hao Neighbors renders. To make you feel at home in a new home, Ni Hao Neigbors do their best.
Dongguan has been in the news for its rapid growth, development and one-of-a-kind architecture for the past half decade. One such unique low lying architectural beauty among the high rises of Nancheng is the Yulan Theatre close to the Dongguan Library. In the company of the bird’s nest in Beijing, Yulan theatre not only stands out in its design, but also is a purpose built structure. It has two theatres, with a capacity of 1,600 and 400 people each. Purposed and picturesque, the Yulan Theatre bags the title of Most Modern Building.
The Palm Valley Water Park, previously known as the Royal Lagoon Water World, in the vicinity of Royal Lagoon houses five pools and a wave pool and is a favorite family destination in the summers. Although it operates only for a few months during the season, it is still a fun go-to spot for families and a perfect spot for a kids’ day out. The park, with its obvious draw for children of the summer and the added parental incentive of an artificial beach for sunbathing adults, finds a place as the Most Family Oriented spot in Dongguan.
Dongguan finds its place among the top 10 Chinese cities with highest urbanization quality, but Dongguan’s finest example of a mis-fired project of ambitious development would have to be the South China Mall. Boasted to be the world’s biggest mall at 659,612 sq. meters, it was expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors. Now nicknamed the “Ghost Mall,” its shops are sparsely occupied and, true to name, remains abandoned. Going from a record breaking new construction project and pride of the city to a deserted giant, remembered in patronizing eulogies on Twitter feeds in quarterly cycles.
If you were at the New South China Mall on July 28th of this year, you might’ve stumbled upon a strange scene: dozens of men wearing high heels paraded through a playground to the amusement of onlookers. No, it wasn’t a Cross-Dressers United event, it was all a stunt, with participants being given a shot at a lucky draw and chances to test out a few recreational thrill rides for free, as long as they continued wearing heels. Thus, the title for the Most Gimmicky goes to those dozens of thick hairy legs that donned pink high heels for the “Men in High Heels Experience Day.”
Irony happens when Dongguan makes effort to improve its name, and the most ironic is recognized after reading the news from last May that London’s Olympic souvenirs were made in Dongguan. Dongguan is well known as the factory of the world, which means that it manufactures products without its own brands. Despite this fact, Dongguan still wanted to grasp the opportunity of star Olympiad, a longstanding event promoting a city’s image. Last year, Dongguan announced its licensed production of 2.5 million mascot souvenirs for the London Olympics. This is Dongguan-style participation in the games, saturating “Made in Dongguan” goods around the stadium and London.
Dongguan is a melting pot that not only attracts people from home and abroad, but also all kinds of food. However the most represented will go to the Hunan Province. As you roam on a random street, it is not hard to find a Hunan restaurant. Hunan food, also known as “Xiang Cai,” is characterized by its hot and sour flavors, fresh aromas, greasiness, deep colors and the prominence of big heaps of chilies. In recent years, Hunan food became a popular dining fashion in Dongguan. Even a lot of local residents that don’t normally opt for spicy food, now will have a taste. Dishes in these restaurants are served in large quantities at fairly low prices. Dozens of Hunan restaurants make the Hunan food our Most Represented Provincial Food.
China has had more than 100 entries to the Forbes World Billionaire List for several years now. On 2011’s list, four from Dongguan made it on the list. The highest contender on that list Zhang Zhidong, CFO of Tencent, the maker of QQ and Wechat, went from ranking at 595 to 554 on this year’s list with a net worth of US$2.6 Billion. Representing Dongguan’s global financial status, these world billionaires are sought out as the Most Wealthy.
On March 20, 2013, Dongguan was hit by the 3.20 super tornado Wando, causing the worst damage from a natural disaster in this magazine’s history. Wando and the consequential damaging hail killed nine people, ages 18-51, and injured another 281. In about one hour’s time, the super tornado had touched down in an area with a diameter of 10 kilometers, with level 14 gusts – comparable in strength to that of a U.S. standard F1 tornado. A twister of that intensity can uproot trees and destroy brick homes. Indeed, Wando caused extensive property damage throughout the districts of Dongguan, especially to some factories in Houjie, Dalingshan and Sha Tin.
MOST HATED COMPLIMENT
The Most Hated Compliment has to be, “you’re fat.” We’ve all experienced it. Say you’ve just returned from a trip and gained a few pounds. You might notice tightness in your belt, but most people won’t – or wouldn’t mention it. But observant local friends and coworkers always seem to notice and make a point to say so. “You must’ve had a great trip because you’re so much fatter now!” Some have caught onto the negative connotations behind the word “fat,” but that doesn’t stop them from substituting the word “strong.” Questioning the beholder, you’re usually assured that it’s a good thing – it means you live never wanting for food. At the same time, you’re always left wondering whether, in a nation of so many thin people, they could take this “compliment” with poise.
The odds of getting struck by lightning are somewhere around one in 500,000. Though they aren’t impossible odds, it takes pretty rotten luck to meet with a bolt of electricity searing through your body. A third of those struck by lightning are injured during recreational sport. In golf, hoisting a metal rod in the air can be a bit risky. So despite the odds, it seems somewhat reasonable that the title of Most Unlucky goes to a luckless, presumably hairless, golfer, who met his match mid-swing in Dongguan. Surnamed Deng, this 48-year-old was admitted to hospital in critical condition, where doctors diagnosed internal organ damage and oxygen deprivation to the brain that occurred when his heart stopped. In spite of such damage, he did retain some luck – he managed to survive.
MOST UNLIKELY TO BE TRIED
What is the most unlikely food to be tried in Dongguan? How about stinky tofu, the blue cheese of Chinese cuisine that can be smelled from half a block away? Nope. Maybe it is chicken feet? Of course not. Well then, it must be the hotpot restaurants where they use dog meat, right? Wrong. The dubious honor goes to a sausage from Hongmei called Yajiaobao. It consists of fat pork mixed with preserved duck feet, heart, liver and kidney, wrapped up in the intestines of, you guessed it, duck. So if you are ever in a restaurant in Hongmei and someone asks if you would like some duck then maybe think twice before saying yes. With so many animals in one sausage, this must be the Most Unlikely to Be Tried.
So many factors can contribute to loneliness – some can’t find love, others can’t stay in love, some are workaholics and others have too many personal problems. Unfortunately, there are plenty of loners in Dongguan, especially among the male population. In fact, according to an online survey of 33 major Chinese cities, Dongguan proved to have the nation’s loneliest single men. Coincidentally, its neighbor Guangzhou has the smallest percentage of lonely men. Survey participants were asked questions about their comfort level at matchmaking events and how often they are overcome with loneliness. However, before you go off consoling your single friends, note that 60 percent of single people resent being pitied for their status.
Known worldwide for its manufacturing prowess, China and her manufacturing industry got its reputation from certain innovative producers who figured out how to do business faster, more cheaply and more satisfactorily for international companies. The title for most groundbreaking goes to the Taiping Handbag Factory, a Hong Kong funded enterprise who was the first to implement a business model that now helps define the industry. Not only are they based in Humen, Dongguan, but they were the first business to operate this way in mainland China. In 1978, a few years after major economic reforms in the PRC, the factory led the way for thousands of foreign-funded enterprises looking to operate with Chinese labor.
MOST OFTEN-BROKEN TRAFFIC RULE
So many traffic rules are broken in Dongguan that it is hard to choose just one. However, a favorite is the ridiculous, impractical, and just plain illegal vehicles on the roads in Dongguan. Spend some time to see some amazing sights – buffalo cattle driven past McDonalds in Hengli, an elderly woman walking down Dongcheng Avenue pulling a wagon of scrap metal behind her, a forklift truck reversing down a motorway, a bus cloaked in a cloud of smoke from its own exhaust. It may not necessarily be the most broken rule, but while most others that are broken tend to frustrate and infuriate, this at least provides some entertainment.
The Most Misunderstood Chinese Holiday is likely Qixi, or Double Seventh Festival, known to many as Chinese Valentine’s Day. It is linked to lovers, but this misnomer comparing it to the Western world’s festival of lovers doesn’t speak to the truth behind the day. Falling on the seventh day after the seventh new moon, it is legendarily based on two lovers separated by higher powers, except for that one day of the year. It is actually a festival for single and newly married women, who either wish to find a good husband or to maintain a lifelong blissful marriage. But men, aversion to commercialized sentiment is no reason not to buy flowers and chocolates. New trends lead to new appetites, and we wouldn’t want to land you in the doghouse.
For most of the year, Dongkeng is just like any other of the industrial towns that surround the city. However, on the 23rd of February, the town is transformed as thousands of people take to the streets armed with water balloons and super soakers for the annual Water Splashing Festival. The day is also referred to as Labor Selling Festival and actually originates from the Ming Dynasty, when landlords and workers gathered to make a deal before the farming season began. The water fights were only added to the festival recently but it has quickly become a popular and much loved tradition in the town.
MOST WIDELY-KNOWN CHINESE CURSE
From playing football, sitting in taxis and watching street arguments some wonderfully colorful Chinese language can be learned. Some of the most memorable are: “you have a bad basic essence;” “you have a beautiful green hat” (meaning your wife is cheating on you); and a four letter swear word said against eight generations of your ancestors. But the most common has to be Shén jīng bìng, which, depending on how it is said, can mean someone is crazy, going a bit loopy or just mentally retarded. Places likely to hear it could be the bus driver who has just swerved around the pedestrian, the couple having an argument in the queue for train tickets or just about any road crossing.
While fast food chains pop up all over Dongcheng and skyscrapers fill the skyline of Nancheng, at the Shell Mound Site in Haogang Village, an ancient period of the region’s history is preserved. In 2003, archaeologists found ruins of pottery and bone tools as well as relics of houses and tombs. The artifacts dated back nearly 5,000 years, making the Haogang Shell Mound Site the earliest evidence of humans living in Dongguan. The local government recognized the importance of the site and in 2007 opened a museum where visitors can see some of the artifacts and learn about the history surrounding them.
There are few feelings more terrifying than realizing you’ve left it until the weekend to do your weekly shopping at Wal-Mart. As you search the fridge for the hundredth time for something to eat you remember the long queues of full shopping carts at the checkout. As you feel around the back of the sofa for takeaway menus you recall the screaming babies in shopping carts and toddlers throwing tantrums in the aisles. So you finally accept your fate and go to Wal-Mart. When you pick up a pack of toilet paper and you turn around to realize the Chinese shoppers are watching, you remind yourself to go shopping during the week next time.
In many countries, governments go to great lengths to discourage smoking and to make it more difficult to purchase cigarettes. They make it illegal to smoke in public places, prohibit cigarette companies from advertising on television and in some cases they ban any sort of branding on the packaging. Meanwhile in China, if a smoker is at home and out of cigarettes they are able to pick up the phone and call their local convenience store at any time and they will deliver a pack to your door. While this example may lead the charge for making bad habits easier, it is the habitual coach potato that wins in the small item-delivering Most Convenient category.
At a height of 898 meters, Silver Bottle Mountain in Xiegang is the highest mountain in Dongguan. It is named so because from a distance the mountain looks like it is shaped like a bottle and the top is like a mouth. The mountain is a popular destination for climbing enthusiasts and tourists alike. Since 2004, Xiegang has held an annual Mountain Climbing Festival on the third weekend of September and it also includes arts performances and exhibitions.
The story of Donghao Plaza in Guancheng is one of rumor and scandal. It is said the plaza was built on top of unmarked graves and the entrance resembles that of a tomb. There were stories that a woman could be heard crying at night. These rumors led to people leaving the plaza and it has been vacant since 2000. It was later discovered that the rumors were lies spread by the developers because of an argument with the owners. Further disagreements led to power cuts and unpaid bills amounting to over RMB 250,000. The plaza has been put up for auction twice but is still yet to be sold, suggesting it will take a lot longer before it can rid itself of the scandal surrounding it.
In the sea of factories and cheap new buildings of Dongguan, there are some old sites that are not only still standing, but have been restored and opened to the public for the chance to see old Southern China’s Lingnan culture. The Keyuan Garden in the old center of Dongguan is one of them. It was built by a Dongguan native who had become a high-level official in the Qing Dynasty. After he retired in 1850, he spent 10 years building the house and garden complex, as a kind of retirement project, and he invited artists and others to join him near the river. Keyuan Garden is easily accessible by taxi or bus and it’s well-known, often the first tourist site mentioned by Chinese promoters of Dongguan, definitely worth a visit and the Most Touristy.
MOST STRIKING TOWN
A study in the United States revealed that the chance of being struck by lightning is one in over 700,000, but in Dongguan it might be more likely. The Meteorological Department warns that thunderstorms are more common in Dongguan than many other places and reports that in towns such as Dongcheng, Changping and Houjie there are a high number of lightning strikes. The lightning strikes tend to occur between June and August but whenever it is wet and stormy it would be wise not to splash around in a puddle with an umbrella, fly a kite in a field or play eighteen holes at the golf course.
The story about dog lover Li Youman founding an animal shelter for mistreated dogs and cats in Shijie Town sounded fake to some readers, but contrary to the cynical feedback, there are dozens of sick, injured dogs being sheltered, treated and perhaps adopted at the Tianshan Stray Animal Rescue Center. The 34-year-old military K9 trainer has been saving stray animals since 2007, receiving support from more and more like-minded followers, and was finally able to build a home for the animals and become licensed as a non-governmental animal protection association. Though his story travelled among local media, which attracted many to volunteer or adopt, he is still facing inevitable financial and spatial problems. For his diligence and kindness, Li is definitely the Most Animal Friendly person for actually saving these vulnerable animals.
When places are abandoned it is usually rumors of ghosts that replace the noise of people in China. Such is the case with Yuyuan Garden in Dongcheng. Built in the early 1990s, Yuyuan Garden was among the earliest developments in Dongguan. Many villas were sold but the area was undeveloped and security was poor. Gradually, the residents left as they were hit by a series of break-ins and robberies. The Garden has now been empty for over ten years. In that time there has been talk of ghosts and even rumors that it was built on top of a burial site. So if you are in search of a haunted hospital or creepy hotel in Dongguan, your best bet is to go to Yuyuan Garden.
When motion is involved, and professors of physics will tell you that everything is moving, things are likely to get a little chaotic. The Wanjiang Bridge, linking two parts of the district west of Guancheng, is a prime example of what happens when you are moving slower than everything else. This relatively small overpass spanning above the Wanjiang River has been hit at least twice in the past seven years, causing damages in the millions. In 2006, a thousand-ton tanker hit the bridge. After investing RMB 2.5 million in repairs, the Urban Management Bureau sued and won the case in a Guangzhou court. Then again, in 2010, a fully packed sand transport ship got stuck in the bridge opening, causing injuries and chaos in the area’s traffic. We will let you decide: bad luck or bad arch?
In Dongguan, sometimes architecture fails absolutely when it comes to practicality. Dongcheng Walking Street with its faux-Euro splendor has housed a revolving door menagerie of clothing shops, restaurants, coffee huts and bars. Beneath stucco columns and painted concrete tiles, this street has served as cartoonish homage to Western culture for years. The fifteen or so stairs to ascend to this consumer’s haven was apparently considered too taxing for some foot-travelers so the street was fitted with escalators for those unable to clamber. Laughably, ten meters east is an avenue that enters the same area that is level with the adjacent streets. This considered, and the fact that these escalators are only powered on several days a year definitely earns this street the prize for the Most Useless Escalators.
MOST PLAYED CLUB SONG
While “This Time for Africa” by Shakira was a success in many countries, in the U.K. and U.S. single charts the song failed to break the top twenty. We wonder if you, like us, have found yourself humming the tune while at work and dreaming of Shakira singing, “Waka! Waka! Eh! Eh!” It’s always confused us how often we hear a song that was released four years ago by a Colombian Pop Star, for a World Cup in South Africa, being played by Brazilian and Nigerian DJs, in a nightclub in China.
If you know anyone who has lost a bike in Dongguan the chances are they lost it near the computer market in Dongcheng known as Global Plaza. The number of bikes known to have gone missing is so high that locking up your bike there is like giving it to charity. Except this charity is a guy at the second hand bike shop, who makes a business out of selling your bike. If you’re going to the cinema, the advice is simple: don’t go by bike.
In sporting achievements, Dongguan is often overshadowed by Guangdong’s mega-cities, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. But when it comes to basketball, the eight CBA titles won by the Dongguan Southern Tigers tied only with Ningbo’s Bayi Rockets, who also have eight. The Tigers are the only team to have qualified for the CBA playoffs in all the seasons since the league launched in 1995. For most of the winning, American Jason Dixon was there to grab rebounds, block out the opponents and dunk his way to five league titles. Joining in 1998, he became the longest serving member of the team. When he retired in 2009 his number 15 jersey was retired in honor of his contributions. The only other CBA player to have a shirt retired is Yao Ming.
There is a Cantonese proverb meaning a dog’s personality reflects its owner’s. Evidently, the theory applies to sausages as well. In Gaobu Town, the famed shorty sausage, or ǎi zǎi chang, was allegedly made by a long time ago by a little dude. Every morning, he lugged his homemade sausage to the market tied to a shoulder pole. But, short as he was, the long sausage would glide and wag along the ground like a puppy’s tale. To solve the problem, he made them shorter and fatter to fit his physique. As the story continued the little guy found success and now local sausage sold in Gaobu is short and fat, which qualifies as the Most Personalized of Dongguan.
MOST MONEYED VILLAGE
When it comes to hoarding the cash, one Dongguan village has it down to a science. In 2011, Yantian Village on the border of Shenzhen in Fenggang town managed to shake out the couch cushions and scrape together a startling RMB 2 billion in assets, thus making it the richest village in the city. From the previous year, the village managed to surpass all competitors, moving from third place to top. For the sheer money grubbing of it all, and the savvy business minds of the villagers, we hand the prize of Most Rich Village to a place probably none of you have ever heard of.
During the hours of 8-10 a.m. and 5:30-7 p.m., the streets are choked with every sort of transport contraption, from cars and electric bikes to buses. As Dongguan develops further, and working class Chinese turn away from the inconvenient public transportation options, rush hour has become status quo in most cities throughout the country. Sometimes, hailing a taxi in 2013 has become nearly as harrowing as waiting for an obscure bus line, especially considering when tardiness to work can garner fines. The final and most hated transport option for most becomes the bus which can be notoriously crowded due to the erratic route times. Cramming two or three times the people legally sanctioned for these vehicles gets the local buses our vote for Most Packed.
MOST AGED TREE
The Chinese Bishopwood tree in Qishi town, has overrun Dongguan’s history, erecting by the river prior to Dongguan’s establishment for 1,011 years. To honor it, the township government conducts a series of promotions and publicities in recent decade, building a park surrounding the tree and named the park after it; holding a Chinese Bishopwood Cultural Festival every year in August, celebrating the tree’s well-being with loads of festive activities and performances; producing a short film depicting the story of a young tree keeper.
MOST VENERABLE BRIDGE
Although Dongguan flaunts a history dating back to 1384, most buildings in Dongguan are no more than 30 years old, opening the perspective that the Guancheng Bridge, built in 1958, is quite historic. It was built the same year as the miracle Yunhe (canal) project – dug by hundreds of thousands of human hands with small tools in less than six months. Located right behind the West Gate as the first bridge crossing the Yunhe, it connected the prosperous commercial center of Zhenhua Road – where stood the Yunhe Department Store, a profitable, but now dilapidated, shopper’s paradise – and the old town area where most lived. It has been renovated and expanded three times to 45 meters long and 40 meters wide. Since the city center moved southeast, the Most Venerable Bridge no longer bears its old glory, but matches the quiet and feeble old buildings of Guancheng.
Living in Dongguan, one could easily forget what a blue sky is. For most of the year, dull grey smog lingers over the city, a product of the large industrial sector. But since June, Dongguan has had a surprising number of blue sky days. According to the Dongguan Meteorological bureau, in 2012 Dongguan had 295 days of blue sky. Could it be because of the drive to replace the city’s older heavy polluting buses with newer, more environmentally friendly models? Could it be a result of the 23 new cameras set up to take pictures of vehicles which are not allowed in the city center? Or is it that the bureau categorizes a sunny day as one with two hours of sunshine. Regardless of the reason, the blue skies have been a welcome surprise.
MOST TRUE TO REPUTATION
When you entered the massage and the man at the entrance smilingly ushers you into a full body massage when you just wanted a foot rub, you started to get a little nervous. When the room smelled like week-old cigarettes and cheap oil you got really worried, and when half way through the massage the girl spent more time than possibly needed massaging your upper thigh, things started toward panicky. People warned you that massages in Dongguan often end with a naughty extra, but you didn’t listen, and now the girl is raising a suggestive eyebrow and you stammer and stutter your way out the room, past the smiling man and out into the street where people look at you with a knowing grin. It seems the reputation was right.
When it comes to street food, Dongguan isn’t on the map as one of the famous cities for road side vittles. International fame notwithstanding, street snacks with Cantonese characteristics strum the heartstrings of Dongguan locals in the oddest of locales. The case in point is Mrs. Li who has been churning out her Gei Dan Zai egg waffle balls, or egglets, since 1982, catering to several different generations who affectionately brave the broken Yanchong Road in Guancheng to seek nostalgia and sweet tooth satisfaction. Using the same recipe since opening, Mrs. Li has been interviewed in several newspapers, and photos of her cart have been publicized online. Taking local consumption into consideration and the possibility of finding the snack in other countries, egglets win our choice as Most Snacky.
There is no lack of dives to grab a few brews around our fair city. Nearly every street now features at least one version of the Qīng Bā which copies the far-flung, famous drinking holes of Lijiang in Yunnan province. The restoration of the dilapidated Batou Village, also referred to as Xiaba, in 2010 sparked a renewed local interest in the quieter, more discreet watering holes, in contrast to the boisterous dance clubs of bar street. The genesis was actually from a red star topped, Soviet-style government building turned coffee house that served beer and its adjoining tea garden. The henceforth “quiet” bar explosion merits Batou as our entry for the Most Chill place in town.
Traditional is the word ridiculously emblazoned upon every brow of the citizenry of Dongguan even when the city’s reputation suggests otherwise. Certain special stores cater to the open-minded that don’t fear the stiff chastisement of the traditionalists, but these adult shops nearly always seem empty. Popping up in the oddest of places in years past, like across the street from Dongcheng Middle School, one adult-aid store has endured through the “sweeping away the yellow” campaign that attempted to purify Dongguan’s soiled image. For at least 10 years, the Joyful Adults Health Care Shop that is directly street side on Yingfeng Road has stood erect against the tide and for this reason is getting tapped for Most Adult.
The latest hours harken stories of ghouls, ghosts and monsters for children around the globe. Dongguan has a different sort of monster – the bridegroom. This villainous creature steals through the darkness with a gang of conspirators to rob another family of a treasure raised for at least twenty-two years – the bride. With bribery, chanting, shoe-seeking and sometimes violence, this man doesn’t leave without taking his prize with him. It’s all in good fun, and lengthy, ritual-dining ceremonies follow as reward. Respecting the obscure and frightening traditions of forced marriages, we shudder and offer admiration by giving the gift of Most Traditional to this hallowed game played by local families.
MOST COMMON DRUG
When a town like Dongguan has the reputation that it does it is unsurprising that the easiest drug to find is Viagra. The Chinese name is Wan Ai Ke, but is referred to as Wei Ge. Wei means big and Ge means brother. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why it has gained such a nickname. It seems that the stigma that is sometimes attached to the drug does not exist here. Pharmacies advertise it openly and sales are thought to be very good. In Dongguan, buying Viagra is just like buying medicine for a cold.
MOST COMMON JOKE
I’ve heard a number of jokes in China, but the most common is the most simple. It is also the most awful. I ask someone Chinese, “where are you from?” They pause for a moment, as if they need a moment to remember, before a mischievous smile creeps across their face and they burst out “China!” It was funny the first time, mildly amusing the second, but by the seventeenth had lost all its limited-bilingual charm and is now my cue to end the conversation.
Long dominated by more austere forms of art, like the Cantonese Opera, comedy was long estranged from Dongguan’s theaters and TVs. But the situation has changed over recent years. Expanding on stand-up comedy’s popularity of the 1990s in Hong Kong, our first local comedian, Liang Xiaozhi, has stood out and joked around for young audiences seeking some Donguan-style kind of fun. In Liang’s performances, he cracks wise about local history and culture, makes fun of typical local lifestyles and clowns his close ties to his audience. Capable of making a theater full of people laugh hard and long, he is no doubt Dongguan’s Most Funny.
MOST POPULAR SURNAME
You would think the Most Popular Surname in Dongguan would be some sort of bizarre name with a weird Dongguan dialect pronunciation. We’re sorry to disappoint you, but according to old, unofficial, online statistics, the Most Popular Name in Dongguan is Chen. Yeah, boring. It was used by more than 159,000 people, followed by Huang with 109,000 and Li with 104,000. There were 812 names in Dongguan, 35 of them are used by over 10,000 people, and 205 of them are used by only one single person, probably some complicated character that even Chinese can’t read.
Like clockwork, when the Chinese lunar calendar hits 5/5 the locals in Wanjiang churn the water with oars. Celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival with a flurry of paddling, 20 different boats, each representing the different villages of Wanjiang, compete in a maddening race of fortitude and speed down the spectator lined Dongjiang River. The winner is lauded as the champions of Wanjiang and garners respect from the other villages. To prepare for the event, a heavy training regimen of practice sessions ensues months before the competitions begin and the boats are constructed using traditional methods. For the sheer determination of these participants and the attempts to keep it local, we award the Wanjiang dragon boat racers with the Most Competitive distinction.
The Guangdong Ministry of Public Security released the year’s 30 Most Wanted criminals on October 14 with a bounty of RMB 5,000 for each head. Three of them are fugitives for murder in Dongguan, Chen Huihuang, 29, wanted in Nancheng, Li Jinguang, 44, wanted in Changping and Yin Chengde, 22, wanted in Dalingshan. Just about every year, the provincial police departments release dozens of names from each PSB, but the contact information is rarely published. So if you get any information or clues, the easiest way is to memorize which local police station initiated the case and call them directly, or you will spend quite a lot of time navigating among different branches and departments until getting the right people, as it is with most government procedures in China.
Taking up one third of Dongguan’s foreign investment with over 6,000 establishments, Taiwanese enterprises exert great influence on the city’s economy and contribute a lot to its prosperity. Since the 1970s Taiwanese were some of the first foreign investors, going hand in hand with Hong Kongers. Founded in 1993, the Taiwanese Businessman Association was set up to tackle Taiwanese related business affairs, it also helped building the Taiwanese businessmen’s school, the Taixin Hospital and the TBA Tower, the last two are planned to open at the end of this year. In addition, a giant storage wholesale market T-Mark delivers Taiwanese products directly from Taiwan, and the annual Taiwan Fair brings the latest technology and applications to over hundreds of thousands of visitors in the Exhibition Center in Nancheng.
The Humen Fort is many things, an Opium War battlefield, a patriotic Chinese center of education and a coastal scenic site. For visitors from the United Kingdom or India, there may be a chance to recognize their ancestors among the historical. They are the same great-great-grandpas whose portraits hang high in the old castles and strongholds, but what they may not know about these family idols is their role as foreign invaders. Whether these Commonwealth decedents blame the Queen Victoria’s colonial conspiracy or praise their ancestors for kicking down China’s door to open free trade, the Humen Fort deserves a trip because it is Dongguan’s Most Historic.
MOST SNAKES EATEN
In China, our weird dishes are rationalized by reasoning of health. Water snake congee is proof of point. The Cantonese believe that water snakes can cure skin problems. Well-processed, tender water snake meat in hot congee, is what Wangjiang’s Yongfu Congee City Restaurant can offer. Water snake and congee is a perfect match. Unlike tea where the leaves are discarded afterward, there is no waste at the end of this popular local dish. Put down your cultural prejudices and close your eyes, because water snake congee is going to bring you to a journey of tastes, aromas and textures. Caution, contents hot.
MOST APPEALING ETHNIC CUISINE
For its striking similarity with North America’s Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkeys, Zhangmutou Hakka Stuffed Goose could be recommended to be served at a dinner for U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Major similarities include a consensus on family, tradition, giving thanks and eating the whole bird. The minor differences reside in the cooking method – convection oven for the turkey, a wok for the goose – and stuffing contents. With local ethnic delights appealing to global palates, this goose is cooked.
In China, shanzhai is the delicate choice for calling a product fake. Selling shanzhai goods ranging from cosmetics, perfume, underwear and hairpins to jeans and dresses, the Women’s Street, or Maihao Street, is no doubt the No.1 weekend destination for millions of Dongguan’s factory girls who are earning the minimum monthly wage. Their desire for fashion can be instantly satisfied with a RMB 100 top-to-toe package. That’s why the small alley is always packed with women and women’s products, sweets and snacks, buzz and bargains. From Victoria Secret styles to Chanel’s classic black and white, shanzhai is a lifestyle, an attitude. The Women’s Street is most recommended to increase your exposure to shanzhai culture.
MOST PRAISED ARTICLE
In a surprise to Staff Writer Tracy Lu, our Most Praised Article must be Puppy Liberation Army, a look into the changing awareness of animal cruelty. She said plainly when discussing it, “We heard about the story and we had read articles about it in local media, so we went there and wrote the article.” But the response from the public was noteworthy, and varied between disbelief – how could there ever be a rescue center in China? – to outpourings of emotion – the article about animals brought tears to my eyes. The differing response made Tracy, as a Dongguan native who has never been out of the country, realize that the difference in how Chinese and Westerners treat domestic animals is so “insanely” different that normal progress leads to such bewilderment.
Dongguan boasts a young population set to creating a dynamic economy. However, this category is should remind Dongguan of its historic monuments represented here by the West Gate built in 1384 A.D. During the centuries, the gate has played a twisted role, either welcoming tributes or raising alerts of danger to the city. This most-used entrance once served to display the heads of trouble makers during the time of Japanese occupation and publicly humiliate opponents of the Cultural Revolution. It was also an assembly point for rituals and celebrations. Beyond the hustle and bustle of the CBD, the West Gate has remained the best landmark of the city to witness Dongguan’s ups and downs.
The most prestigious cooks in Hengli Town would boast their skills of making distinguished boiled, stir-fried, deep-fried bull nuts. Customers are free to choose bull testicle dishes according to color, taste, aroma and desired texture, though many believe any cooking can’t change the vomit inducing odor, “the dinner table is no place for testicles!” But for lovers of Japan’s new and bizarre food trend, dark cuisine, this smell, described by some as having a resemblance to pig shit, is just right. And they would side with the TCM theory of Yǐ xíng bǔ xíng, that chicken feet are eaten for nourishing the legs and pig brain to benefit the brain. So, bull’s nuts can enhance men’s nuts. Cheers to you men.
After consecutive days of “polluted” air quality, Dongguan finally improved as of March. According to real-time data released by the Dongguan Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, the monitoring reported an AQI index as “good.” Recently the Dongguan Government invested RMB 350 million to close down polluting cement factories and brickyards and now enforces inspections of vehicle emissions and forbids the sale and use of leaded gasoline in residential areas. Dongguan air quality now ranks 5th in the Pearl River Delta and 13th in all of China. Ah, deep breath.
Choosing from our last 24 issues, two full years of Mega.pixel, was likely more fun than work. So many of you make it to more pages than you might like, and others likely pour over each issue in hope to make the cut. Separating the butterflies from the wallflowers, three members of our community were Most Seen in Megapixel. Though they are friends of the magazine, it is their social attitudes that put them in the running. Number one, weighing in at 21 sightings, is Darren Quon and his winning smile. Amy Chuah follows with 16 (sorry for using this photo again) and everyone’s favorite American mother, Michelle Vervaeke, pulls in at second runner-up with 15 inclusions. Though she fell behind in quantity, she may have taken the competition for most locations.
Bringing baseball to China, or at least to Dongguan. The Dongguan Dragons, a local baseball group which caters to all children in the training and playing of Baseball is headed by ex-pro Jim Mann, they offer a baseball program which is divided into three skill sets, from beginners to the high school level, the most skilled of which compete with other teams around China. The Major League Baseball program meets every week year round, and is for all kids – boys and girls. The group meets once a week on Saturdays.
Dongguan is one step closer to the metro age they say. I’m sure many of us have had firsthand experience of the disruptions linked to the building of the R2 Railway Line at one point or another. Dongguan’s first intercity railway line presently under construction is scheduled to open for trial operations in 2015. In the meantime, we need to put up with the many billboards that have popped up overnight, the traffic congestion, which doubles a ten minute journey, and the destruction of GPS routes all over the city. The Humen Railway Station, a major junction linking the R2 line with the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail and Guangzhou-Dongguan-Shenzhen Intercity Rail is still proceeding with the land requisition and demolition phases, so we can expect the annoyance to last a little while longer.
The weightlifter Chen Jingkai from Shilong is the first Chinese athlete to break a world record. Nearly 60 years ago, weighing less than 56 kilograms, Chen’s figure by no means fit the image of a Hercules or Perseus, but with a small man’s big courage, he made his own miracle, and so did Dongguan. If our neighbors in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are powerful competitors with their higher administrative level, bigger economy, capital and budget, Dongguan perceived itself a bantamweight city. It knows its weight class, it concentrates and it succeeds. Because power is a matter of the internal rather than the external, Chen should have the award for the Most Strong.
Dongguan’s Wikipedia page should probably not be read by anyone moving their family here. “The city’s prostitution sector employs around one in ten of the enormous migrant labor force,” it reads. Local karaoke bars are known to form a large part of this industry, so you would be forgiven if you raise a suspecting eyebrow at anyone who invites you to a night of Chinese KTV. But the truth is not all KTVs have lines of beautiful women available to accompany the men for drinking and more, it is actually a popular pastime for those looking for a good clean time. If you like to make a fool of yourself singing, or just enjoy watching others do so, don’t be put off by the stigma; it can actually be a lot of fun.
If you’ve ever ventured out to the park during a holiday, you would have been met with crowds of Chinese walking the new bike path that runs from Qifeng Park to Huying Park. Go any other time, especially early evenings, and you’ll find groups of bikers whizzing around its many curves. The long vacant Dongcheng Sports Park in the same vicinity is soon to open after a year and a half of construction. Taking up a huge area the park embraces an extreme sports section with ramps of different heights and shapes, a half pipe and a three-story high, rock climbing wall. The sports park is still recruiting all the necessary staff and are hoping to open soon.