Hot springs in Big Bay area, anyone?

April 24, 2017 11:15
Locals enjoy a dip in a hot spring in China. 
Paul Chan (inset) is pitching the Enping hot springs in Guangdong province to Hongkongers. Photo:, HKEJ

Government officials, like telephone salesmen, often tell you something you do not like to hear and mostly at the wrong time.

Just like our Financial Secretary Paul Chan, who will tell you that the hot springs in Enping, Jiangmen in Guangdong province are comparable to Japan's.

Chan and his boss, Leung Chun-ying, spent three days last week visiting Big Bay area (not the famous one next to Silicon Valley in San Francisco) in the Pearl River Delta that Premier Li Keqiang saw potential for development.

When Chan talked about hot springs with the hot summer approaching, he showed why it is a dead idea in the first place.

To be fair, Chan’s plan is nothing more than encouraging people to travel from the small island of 1,100 square kilometres to the nearby Pearl River Delta area where people can enjoy space, not to mention familiar language and eating habits.

But not when he told the audience in a radio program that Hongkongers could spend a night in Enping to enjoy its hot springs instead of going to Japan.

Going to Enping can be time consuming. Guangdong has four hot springs but it takes four hours by bus to get there because it is about 280 kilometres from Hong Kong.

By comparison, it takes two and a half hours to Okinawa and an hour more to other Japanese cities, which are Hongkongers’ favourite holiday destinations.

Enping is more affordable. Two-day, one-night tours cost as little as HK$199 (US$25.60).

However, you get what you pay for and perhaps you also need to stay alert for hygiene issues, especially around the hot springs.

For a little more money, people enjoy peace of mind in clean and hygienic Japan, although we speak a different language. One may be surprised how many locals go the extra mile to learn the language.

No wonder travel writer James Hong ridicules Chan’s pitch as a joke, saying it's a horrible thing to compare the shortcomings of China with the strength of Japan when it comes to hot springs.

He says Japan excels in service, atmosphere, water and hygiene and it will take time for Enping to catch up in terms of software and hardware.

Perhaps Chan could take his family to an Enping vacation if he hopes others to get serious about his holiday suggestion.

His idea did not earn him any bonus points in his credibility rating.

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EJ Insight writer