"To live is a culture, through the understanding of the accumulative essence of our ancestors. In other words, realising the wonderful bits and pieces in life is culture."
Professor Cheung Shun Kwong - Principal of City University and Chairman of Hong Kong SAR Cultural Committee, is enthusiastic in promoting the cultural development in Hong Kong. Major in Civil Engineering, Professor Cheung is also heavily involved in the researches on History, Culture, Language, Literature, Art, Physiology and Architecture. His valuable insights and enlightenment are, unbelievably, stemed from the frightening lung disease which is now affecting the livelihoods of all Hong Kong people .....
Unexpected gain from Tuberculosis
Born in the warring period, Professor Cheung had a gypsies-childhood. At the age of 8, he and his parents emigrated to Taiwan. He recalled "When I was 10 years old studying in Primary 4, there was a nationwide medical check for Tuberculosis. As my mom had been infected by the disease before, my chest X-ray result was not satisfactory. I was identified as a positive carrier and had to stop schooling. Being doctors, both my parents responded cautiously and agreed that I should break away for one year.
In memory of his childhood, he told us smilingly "The one year's break provided me a free world of explorations. Because of no class, I wandered around the nearby parks and played like a wild kid throughout the day. I had time reading rented frictions and interesting books like autobiographies of famous scientists and artists which were brought back by my parents. My interests on the Western and Chinese Cultures were then cultivated. It was an enlightening period for me. The timing was just perfect since I had known enough vocabularies to read independently. I ran through different categories of books, and for the first time learned about different diseases. Since then, I started my research about the lung and respiratory system for over 20 years."
Co-incidence in Life
At Primary 5 and 6, his father traveled to the States to further his studies. Professor Cheung then earned the chance to learn about American culture and the country. "While attending a Civics class during the time of the Korean War, our teacher requested us to play the role of the UN Security Council in the discussions and authorizations for US troops to battle in North Korea. I was appointed as the French representative to opt for the war and successfully obtained the support from United Kingdom, United States of America and France (Taiwan was one of the representatives at that time). It was through the acting that I knew about the war and developed my reading habits and information seeking skills. I was attracted to the things about France afterwards. In my secondary education, I spent time on the French arts and authors. Eventually I took French as one of the subjects in the university." He admitted that he was really lucky, to be able to reach out for different cultures in his early childhood, which had left a remarkable impact in his personal development.
Plant a flower and end up with a willow
Professor Cheung emphasized that he was not a fatalist but somehow man has a destiny. "Life is so unpredictable, it is these uncertainties that make our lives so different, colorful and affluent. The Chinese proverb "Plant a flower but get a willow instead " can be regarded as my viewpoint about life. If everyone leads a stereotyped life, there would not be any culture left and life would be very boring. Professor Cheung added "Although we cannot predict the future, yet we must take the first step to create a suitable environment so to allow free growth and development."
Culture of Life
"Sometimes there are no choices in life, just like the natural life cycle which cannot be changed. The most important lesson in life is however to fully utilize the precious time to equip ourselves, and to appreciate the beautiful things in life. To live is a culture, through the understanding of the accumulative essence of our ancestors. In other words, realising the wonderful bits and pieces in life is culture. The ingredients for culture are daily life, arts, frictions, literature, philosophy and religion, etc." Professor Cheung believes that subjective and objective factors are the two sides of a coin, and the combination of the two compose life's chapter. "If we simply have aims in life, but never consider the objective rules or consolidate the differences between the two factors, disappointment and pain will be resulted and life will be unfulfilling. On the contrary, if we just confront with reality without initiative, neither will it be successful. It will work best if we can initiate our subjective ideas to work in the objective environment smoothly, then life will be affluent." Professor Cheung commented.
Professor Cheung thought that human civilization 's highest demarcation is ideology and ways of thinking. Human behaviour whether consciously or unwittingly, is guided by his own philosophy of life, and sometimes by following their hearts instead of thorough thinking. "Not every human can make decisions objectively all the time, sometimes subjective decisions can bring forth passion and creativity which will lead to self fulfillment in life."
Professor Cheung has deep appreciation for life. Although majored in Civil Engineering, he is filled with the fragrance of culture and romantic passion. Whether you agree with it or not, he strongly believed in the doctrine "Minor decisions are made by your brain whereas the major ones are judged by your heart".
Places: Uzbekistan (Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva)
The 12,000 kilometers long Silk Road had been a bridge for the cultural exchange and trade between East and West for thousands of years. Geographically speaking, China adjoins Central Asia and is separated by a borderline only. Central Asia was the gateway and a very important transit for China connecting with Europe at that time. Both China and Central Asia prospered along the Silk Road with blockages from time to time. From the Han dynasty, China opened up a commercial artery with Central Asia known as the Silk Road which has became the main route for political, economical, cultural and military development.
Along the Silk Road, one of the most important countries in Central Asia is Uzbekistan, which is also one of the origins of the Persian culture with over thousand years in history. In the 13th century, the Muslim Dynasty was razed under the revenge by Temujin (Genghis Khan) on the barbaric Korezmshah Caliph. Genghis Khan's second son, Chagatai then chose Samarkand as the capital for his empire. In the 14th century, Tamerlane, the decedent of Genghis Khan's elite troop, conquered Khorezm, Khorasan, Persia, Syria, Asia Minor and Russia to create the Tamerlane Empire.
Being the last nomadic emperor and a faithful Muslim, Tamerlane turned his imperial capital - Samarkand into the architectural pearl of Central Asia in the late 1300s. Under his ruling, Uzbekistan prospered and reached its glory. The most skillful artisans and best craftsmen were brought to Samarkand (the capital) and Bukhara for building palaces, mausoleums and massdrassahs, creating an imposing capital or city. The areas were left with refined architectures and masterpieces mixing Persia, Islam and Christian work of arts. After the fracturing of Mongolian's control, the area of Central Asia had been ruled under Turkey, Soviet Union and European countries. Until the independence of Uzbekistan, the Republic re-built the main cities like Bukhara and Samarkand to resume their glories. The amazing brick craftsmanship was illustrated by the Samanid Mausoleum built with only simple baked bricks. Khiva was also a famous historical city with rich culture and relics that you should never miss. Let's come across the beauties of these three cities one by one.
Samarkand, once the battlefield for the Mongols and capital of the Tamerlane Empire. His grandson and an astronomer-king Ulug Beg left with an outstanding observatory. The city was gradually divided into two sections; with the new section filled with Russian architectures like the Registan Ensemble and Gur Emir Mausoleum whereas the old one re-furbished with huge and colourful monuments like tall, arched portals, bulbous blue domes, minarets resembling smokestacks or lighthouses, covering in beautiful tiles. The architectural masterpieces in this city are listed under the World Heritage protection list by the UNESCO.
The most fascinating inhabited museum city, Bukhara (the holy) is impressive with remarkable architecture of mosques, massdrasssahs and dome-covered bazaars (called toks) found everywhere. It is still the Islamic intellectual centre and cultural treasure as it was long time ago during the busy trading along the Silk Road.
Khiva, a famous slave-trading town, is the most intact and remote of Central Asia's Silk Road Cities. Many historical sites in Khiva are listed under cultural and world heritage protection by UNESCO.
Feature: Ivan the Kozak - Mr. Ivan Wang
When entering into this bijou restaurant, you will find from the exterior or interior decorations, adornments, cutlery, to food or even music are entirely filled with the cozy atmosphere of a peasant's home in the Eastern European countryside. The owner of the restaurant is Ivan and his Ukrainian wife Olena whose name is a typical in Eastern Europe. Twenty years ago when the owner took the name of 'Ivan', it was at the time a common name among the Eastern European countries like the previous Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The word 'Kozak'is Ukrainian which means 'chivalrous knight'. Hence we can say that Ivan is the knight who has chosen his own restaurant as home base.
In the early nineties, Ivan entered into the north western part of China (Lanzhou) to invest in the karaoke and hotel business. During the same time, Olena was in the trading business and stayed at his hotel. They met each other and gradually made a happy couple. Since the business development was not as satisfactory in China, Ivan decided to bring his wife back to Hong Kong in 1995 for a change and returned to his familiar jewellery industry.
By chance, his wife was being hired to work in a newly opened Russian Restaurant. After working for some time, she found such business very meaningful not only because that the Russian specialty food and culture could be introduced to Hong Kong, but also the Ukrainians could be employed and worked together to ease the homesick feelings. The idea of setting up a restaurant for Ukrainian and Russian food came into mind. Besides satisfying their own needs, such restaurant would help to promote the Eastern European food culture as well. All these pulled Ivan out from the jewellery industry and Olena who originally studied medicine in opening the restaurant.
After some research, Ivan selected a venue around Soho, the food centre well-known for other cuisines as well. Hong Kong is a modern city, so the decorations or designs tend to be cosmopolitan, cyber and can be real imaginative. However, Ivan believed in simple rural style theme and a 'farm feel' restaurant would provide a good break-away for the busy Hong Kong people. Their cozy 'peasant's hut' was then set up. Food wise, it has to be very native. Ivan insisted to use the chefs from Ukraine and Russia and selectively imported more than 20 Vodka produced locally in Ukraine and Russia. "Have a free sip to see if you may like any of them !!" he invited the guests generously. With over 90% of the decorations specially brought back from Ukraine and Russia, you'll feel like being in Eastern Europe surrounded by the colourful hand-painted walls.
No doubt, Ivan is a hardworking, thoughtful and attentative boss. Most of the times he will stay in the restaurant to communicate with the patrons for any possible improvements and offer caring service.
'Eating always comes first' as per the famous Chinese proverb. Food can open up the hearts of different nationalities and cultures. Ivan the Kozak will prepare good food to greet his patrons, and you can say "Food is a kind of silent cultural exchange."
Special Topic: Caravanserai Vacation Interval Program
What is Caravanserai Vacation Interval Program?
Caravanserai Vacation Interval Program (VIP) is a vacation program newly developed by Caravanserai Limited and North West Development Limited and recently launched in Hong Kong and selected areas in China. In principle, VIP is a timeshare program, which allows her members to enjoy the usage of seven (7) room nights per annum for twenty (20) years at a designated hotel, The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel. Member is free to redeem his/her right of usage (i.e. seven room nights per annum) anytime during the year with advance request or carry forward the unused portion* to the following year. In addition, VIP offers her members to exchange* their entitlements with other selected hotels around the world (around 3,700) at a minimum charge. Members are also welcome to transfer* or sell their memberships to any third party anytime at their wishes and VIP sets no limitation on the re-sell market price or conditions*. In short, members of VIP enjoy the following rights:
* Right to Use
* Right to Exchange
* Right to Transfer
What is Timeshare?
Timeshare program is also commonly known as Vacation Interval and there are over 45 million subscribers around the world. This is becoming a mainstream market for vacationists upon the participations of major international hotel chains including Marriott, Disney, Hilton and Ritz Carlton. The concept builds on an ancient practice in Europe during 60's - exchange use of expensive vacation houses in exotic locations by a group of friends and nowadays, the Timeshare becomes common and evolves into an international exchange market for vacationists. Members of Timeshare program exchange their entitlements (room nights) for comparable entitlements at a vacation house or hotel during a selected time period at their desires. Timeshare programs usually last for 20 or 30 years while others last for 50 plus years depending on individual's preferences and properties policies.
What are the advantages of Caravanserai Vacation Interval Program?
It is estimated that the hotel room rates have increased over 10% during the past five years (depending on the location) and the said trend will continue in most places around the globe while the incremental percentage will vary according to the economic development of the concerning place.
Caravanserai Vacation Interval Program allows her members to enjoy a "20 years inflation-free" vacation by offering a bulk discount on TODAY's hotel room rate. In other words, members enjoy DOUBLE benefits - 1. Bulk Discount, 2. Locking in TODAY's hotel rate.
On the other hand, VIP is a perfect corporate incentive for staff of all levels due to its characteristics. Different staff can be awarded every year and different level of entitlements can be used to indicate his/her performance accordingly. Thanks to the flexibility of this program, corporations can easily award their staff at an efficient and effective manner.
Last but not least, VIP is not another "Timeshare Program" but a life long vacation partner. Caravanserai Limited's sister company, North West Development Limited, owns and manages the flagship hotel in this program (Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel) plus four other culture hotels over the past ten years. We are experienced and resourceful in vacation planning, in particular, culture vacation. As an owner and manager ourselves, we are reliable, adaptable and customer oriented. We strive for the best and committed to provide our customer a true experience of the Global Village.
Is Caravanserai Vacation Interval Program affordable and available?
Yes to both questions. VIP consists of four membership categories to fit in your special needs and budget. The membership fees for 20 years range from USD 6,000 to 20,000 and finance package is available for those who are interested in. For further details, please contact us at (852) 2838 7202 or email us at email@example.com. Or feel free to visit our website http://www.c-vip.com.
* Abide by certain terms & conditions