China’s fourth richest man is returning to his roots to help rebuild its economy – through his flagship project, Baoneng Times Bay.

Shantou is a city full of surprises. At first glance, it appears like a city with nothing much to see or do compared to its more famous neighbours like Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the province of Guangdong. But peel away the façade, and you would find a number of surprising discoveries.

It is the original birthplace of Gongfu tea, also known delightfully as “kung fu tea”. It is named as such due to the immense skill needed to brew the tea from beginning to end. It involves elevating every stage of tea preparation to its highest form, from warming the pot to pouring it out. Watching the demonstration has a meditative effect and when you are finally served the tea, you behold it with deep appreciation and deliberately drink it slowly to take in the full flavour of the kung fu skills.

As with many Chinese port cities, Shantou brims with history due to its proximity to the sea. The 19th century was its heyday when it was a thriving cosmopolitan port city with a large foreign community. That legacy can still be seen today in its bustling Old Town where many of its grandest buildings fusing both European and Chinese architectural styles are located.

Among them are Shantou History Museum, a stately colonial building that features photographs and cultural artefacts of the city particularly from the 19th century. The other is the Shantou Museum of Overseas Remittance which displays the history of millions of Southern Chinese who emigrated overseas especially during the turbulent late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Farming was also hard due to the lack of arable land. Much like today’s Chinese immigrants to western countries, the early emigrants regularly remit money back to their hometown.

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