Paris Attack

#Paris

Everyone’s condemning the terrorists. Besides that, what can we do as ordinary people? Every time things like this happen, we’re always wondering why besides feeling sad. People who do the research may have answers from the perspectives of history, politics and religion, but those answers may not be comprehensive.

I used to think terrorism was all well organized and logical, until I went to Xinjiang and learnt sometimes terrorism attacks cannot be logically explained. Sometimes it’s just driven by bad days in life or propaganda movies. Maybe that’s what’s horrible about terrorism. No appeal. No organization. The city is endangered by random thoughts by a couple of people.

As a Christian, I ask God why. I met a friend from Lebanon in America. He finished elementary school and middle school walking through the fire of war, missing classmates from time to time. All of those were triggered by so-called religion conflicts. When he heard that I’m a Christian, he directly said to me, ‘ I hate religions. A lot of wars in this world started with people defending their religions.’ I didn’t know what to say, but I understood.Photo Nov 18, 9 39 39 PM

I’ve been reading 3000 years in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a city linked to the whole world. A city that almost never enjoys long term peace since its beginning. It was occupied by Egypt, Assyrian, Babylon, Persia and Rome in the history. To modern days, the conflict is still ongoing.

There were many prophecies in the Holy Bible, but a person is never clear about every mystery of the God. If there has to be an answer, I would blame on human’s arrogance. We think we could do anything we want because of arrogance, but we break rules of nature that should’ve been followed, in the name of the breakthrough of the traditions and the pursuit of democracy. We think we can be on top of the rules. We think there is no ruler of the world and thus make ourselves the ruler. We break the balance of the ecosystem. We put a group of people on top of another group of people and call that social class. In the end, the society lost its balance, which led to where we are now.

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In the future, every major city should learn from Israel, America and Xinjiang, China on security issues. Israel was once the most chaotic and unsafe spot on earth, but it became relatively safer for its perennial insecurity. In Israel, both men and women must take military service, hence making every adult citizen a soldier. Important areas are watched by the military force rather than the police. The everlasting state of counter-terrorism makes the speed of military force fast. You have to arrive at the airport 4 hours in advance in order to get on a flight in Israel. Questions and checks come along the moment you arrive and your luggage would go through both machines and manual checks. The number of your portable luggage must remain the same from the first security check to the terminal. Nothing more, nothing less. After the security check at the terminal, people are restricted in a certain area. Anyone who wants to leave would be escorted by a security guard, even if that person’s leaving for bathroom. I needed to use the lavatory after the security check when the boarding started and there weren’t enough security guards. I was told to ‘hang in there’.

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Since 911, the security in major cities was upgraded, which extends to academies. Parsons is located in Manhattan. When I was a scholar there, a friend who was visiting asked me why the security was so tight. In addition to security scanner gates, there were security guards. Members of the academy had to use ID to get in, and visitors had to be led by members and register their passport or ID to get in. Unlike public sites that allow free access for visitors, the queue outside the academy starts around 12 hours before major events and the security check takes a lot of time. Broadcasts remind people to call 911 or inform the staff when seeing suspicious people in metros, buses and malls. In a word, it is everyone’s duty to be part of the counter-terrorism.

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Xinjiang stepped up in its guards in many ways after several terrorist attacks. The security check in airports and train stations could be called the best in the whole country. Surveillance cameras are installed outside supervision targets’ residence. Government officers are required to go between ordinary people, know about their life and help them solve life problems. Any sudden change would be reported, even a person’s sudden drop of cigarettes. Maybe the most hardworking and responsible civil servants are in Xinjiang. They don’t have vacation around the year, take 24 hour shifts, go live and work in the country to solve ordinary problems for ordinary people, taking the risk of being attacked. Thanks to their work, even theft hardly happens in Xinjiang. These places that seem the most unsafe are the safest places.

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a corner of a farm in Xinjiang

Although we can’t answer why terrorism happened and keeps happening, we have to admit we can no longer be the boiling frog and keep ignoring what’s happening outside. The world, as it gets more and more chaotic, must be more united.

“The Ride” – The Only Moving Theater in the World

We went to the only moving theater in the world – “The Ride”. Whoever comes up with this idea must be a genius. All the audience sitting in a moving bus, which is very different with the normal ones. There are glass windows on one side and no windows on the other side. Everyone faces the glass windows instead of the driver. The audience sees clearly the views outside when the bus moves.

The guides introduce the history and story of the landmarks when the bus is moving and passing each relevant landmark. It sounds similar to bus tours, right? But what’s different is that all the screens in the bus play the documentary film of the landmark while the guides are introducing the spot in exaggerated gestures and body languages.

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The most interesting thing is that there are “shows” to watch in several certain places. The street is the stage and passengers are co-stars. The actors/actresses sometimes get some passengers to “play” the “shows” with them.

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These two couriers from FedEx did a hip-hop performance. The audio equipment in the bus is quite nice but the aged may find it a bit noisy.

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This singer improvises according to the features of passers-by.

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When we reach the Columbus Circus, two dancers did a short ballet. Some passers-by just made fun with the two by “dancing” together with them.

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Look at the concert of the singer and the saxophone.

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When the bus moves on, if there is no landmark or performance to watch, the screens play the history and cultures of NYC. For example, the system tells you that NYC has 8.3 million residents and there are over 48 million tourists visiting the city every year. Meanwhile, the number of cabs is 13 thousand, and number of taxi can be offered when you need one urgently is 0.

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We can see various passers-by during the trip and the guide would ask who is New Yorker and who is tourist. Well, we just make a guess. Then the system releases the answer, which is “none of your business”.

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The Exhibition of “The Best Teen Art and Writing from Across the Country” in 2014

The Exhibition of “The Best Teen Art and Writing from Across the Country” in 2014.

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Gold Metal Award – Market Street. All the award winners are teenagers.

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This painting is very interesting. Please check how many people are there in the painting?

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This painting, “Watch Your Step”, is an optical art.

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Look at these amazing body paintings.

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Human body

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Installation

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This is my favorite painting. However, it is hung too high to be shot from a nice angle.

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Grandma

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Look at the old lady’s arms in this painting. The title is “She Wears Her Heart on Her Sleeve”. It is fantastic, isn’t it?

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This chain-dress is done by a fifteen-year-old student.

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This dress is made of ropes and dried flowers.

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The community life in USA

Preface

Travel, is not only to look at the scenery, but also to understand the world and experience life. We are also looking for cooperation with all kinds of publishers, traditional media and new media for this series. If you have interest, please feel free to contact me.

In addition to several big cities in US such as New York, in fact, most of the places are small towns in rural areas. For those Chinese who enjoy crowds, the life in town is somewhat boring. However, the American’s community life in fact is much more interesting than we thought. The life in MOUNTAIN-LAKE town in New Jersey is a good example. It will invite some international students to spend the weekends with community residents through some public interest organizations annually.

The local mayor was making a short speech! The mayor came here alone. People would at most shake hands with him upon seeing him. They treat him just like an ordinary person. No fancy crowd is at his service all the time. In China, even a head of village is escorted by a flock of people wherever he goes.

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The master-disciple duos are performing, part of the reception program.

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Look at the farmers’ market here—-it was during Halloween I first time noticed that pumpkin can have different appearances just like people’s face. Incidentally looked at the price, frankly speaking, food price in America is not high. I seldom hear that someone is starved in America.

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In 80-90s, Chinese people used to treat their relatives at home. Nowadays, we prefer to invite all guests to restaurants even for festival gathering. Conversely, American would like to invite friends and relatives to their home. This time, we had dinner at another friend’s home. Every family brought one dish so that everyone can at least enjoy dish of their own choice and that the host family does not have to be too stressful to prepare a big feast for everyone.

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Now, let’s have a look at their house. Host’s living room. Basically speaking, the living room and dining room are downstairs. Upstairs is bedroom. In America, people don’t count their house size by area but by the number of bedrooms.

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A house like this in New Jersey, one hour’s ride to Manhattan downtown in New York and with a big courtyard, is no more than 500 thousand US dollars.

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The place where we had lunch. In European and American family, no matter the house size, what impressed me most was the big sofa and cushions that can be found everywhere. You can sit or lie everywhere making you feel warm and sweet. Even on the public walkway in campus, you can act whatever you feel comfortable, which enables people to relax easily. Although as a guest, I feel at home when seeing this kind of interior decoration.

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Courtyard and balcony.

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The semi-open living room.

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To possess eyes which can discover the beautiful thing is more valuable than to possess the beautiful thing itself.

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The program today is to make pumpkin lanterns. Halloween is coming. First, cut out the top of the pumpkin. You have to place the knife at a 45-degree angle, do you know why?

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Then, find a pattern you like from the graphic book. Use a roller to transfer the pattern onto the pumpkin. The roller reminds me of the roller used for clothing pattern cutting – they share the exact same theory.

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You can tell from this procedure who often cooks, and who does not. I did not even touch the pumpkin and was just taking photos.

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Easier said than done. The pumpkin skin was so thick…

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The pattern cut out by the professor and the young girl. None of us knows what this pattern actually represents.

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Blue sky, warm sun, green trees and the golden autumn leaves, plus a group of energetic friends from all over the world – can you feel my happiness?

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This is what the finished pumpkin lanterns look like.

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One of the most interesting things in American is that you can meet people from anywhere. The picture was taken with a girl from Viet Nam. She specially wore Viet Nam‘s ao dai. The slit is higher than Qipao. It should be ware with pants. Although we get along well with each other, it seems that Chinese are not welcomed in Viet Nam. The war we called “counterattack in self-defense” is not justice according to their textbook.

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Talking with a guy from Kurd Iraq. I always think that Iraq is a dangerous place, but due to the high degree of autonomy in Kurd and the use of same language, Kurd hasn’t been involved in the violence. Its safety level is just behind Turkey. Female education level and employment rate are relatively high. It is still conservative in terms of marriage. Premarital sex is prohibited nowadays. People will receive severe legal and religious punishment and must marry each other if they violate the rule. Although polygamy is allowed by religion, according to relevant legislation, one must have his first wife‘s written approval if he wants to have another wife!

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(To be continued)

Weekend trip to Mountain Lake in New Jersey – Day 2

My Sunday morning starts with playing with Benny. He is already 14 years old. Look at his eyes – full of gentleness and love

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Today’s breakfast!

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Went out to walk Benny and Milo with the hostess. Now I know that walking dogs is not that easy. They both are very strong. More often than not, they just drag me to run along.

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I noticed this beautiful scene while I was walking the dogs. Out of nowhere, my hometown Korla in Xinjiang (the Uygur region) came across my mind. The views are actually different in the 2 places – Xinjiang is a desert area and has no big green land, but they both look very spacious and you can barely spot the end of the horizon.

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Brunch time. The same rule: one family brings one dish.

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To possess eyes which can discover the beautiful thing is more valuable than to possess the beautiful thing itself.

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The program today is to make pumpkin lanterns. Halloween is coming. First, cut out the top of the pumpkin. You have to place the knife at a 45 degree angle , do you know why? (Don’t laugh at me my American friends – I know this is very junior level question to you-☺

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Then, find a pattern you like from the graphic book. Use a roller to transfer the pattern onto the pumpkin. The roller reminds me of the roller used for clothing pattern cutting – they share the exact same theory.

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You can tell from this procedure who often cooks, and who does not. I did not even touch the pumpkin and was just taking photos. My mom always wonders how I have managed to feed myself in all these years when I am travelling.

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This is a professor in Department of International Relations at Shanghai Tongji University. He ‘suffered’ a while to cut out the pattern. Easier said than done. The pumpkin skin is so thick…

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The pattern cut out by the professor and the young girl. None of us knows what this pattern actually represents?

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Blue sky, warm sun, green trees and the golden autumn leaves, plus a group of energetic friends from all over the world – can you feel my happiness? I almost fell asleep in the warm sunshine!

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This is what the finished pumpkin lanterns look like.

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The little girl – Biyan’s mother is only 5 years older than me. Well! C’est la vie!

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With another 2 Fulbrighters!

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Weekend trip to Mountain Lake in New Jersey – Day 1

Weekend trip to Mountain Lake in New Jersey.

The local mayor was making a short speech! The mayor came here alone. People would at most shake hands with him upon seeing him. They treat him just like an ordinary person. No fancy crowd is at his service all the time. In China, even a head of village is escorted by a flock of people wherever he goes. My brother once invited a head of a governmental department in a small town for a dinner – this guy brought all his subordinators plus his son and relatives to the dinner – without even a prior check with my brother whether he could bring more people. These guys just take it for granted!

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The master-disciple duos are performing, part of the reception program.

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The farmer’ market in Mountain Lake. I never saw such pumpkins!

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The house of my host family is just adjacent to the lake. What a beautiful scene!

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Opposite the entrance of my host family’s house.

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We had dinner at another friend’s home. Every family brought one dish so that everyone can at least enjoy dish of their own choice and that the host family does not have to be too stressful to prepare a big feast for everyone. I wish we could do the similar reception in China too. But if I asked everyone bring in one food it would be very awkward in China – we just don’t have this tradition. It is also too much work to prepare a big feast just by one family. The older generation like my parents used to do this every year during our New Year. Now they are too old to do the big work, the younger generation like myself are either not good at cooking or too lazy, so now we end up with inviting all guests to restaurants for festival gathering.

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Trip to Brazil VI: Glimpses of Brazilian cities and countryside

Sometimes you don’t need to go to hot sight seeing spots to understand a city. The street scenes already tell you much about the local culture and life.

In Brazil, street art is everywhere. You can see the strong Brazilian features in these photos of street art in Sao Paulo – free, passionate and vibrant.

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Street art in Caxias. Every single piece is simply stunning!

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Here below is a photo where the street art blends perfectly well with the Brazilian youth.

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The topography in Caxias is very similar to that in Hong Kong Island. There are many slopes and some are pretty steep. I wouldn’t be able to drive on this type of road.

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A square and a bus stop in Caxias. The bus stop is nicer than it is in China 🙂

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On Sept 2, after lecture, I went to another small town with Carol Garcia, Franklin and Ludmila Paz. Most of the early immigrants to Brazil were from Europe, so the town looks very European style. Again, color is everywhere in Brazil! Brazilians’ passion for nature can be fully seen from their use of colors. All the colors are very vibrant, pure and saturated.

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Countryside in Brazil. Seems to me that one of the major differences between China and other developed countries lies in the development of sub-urban area and the countryside. Hardware and facilities in macro cities like Beijing and Shanghai maybe even better / newer than those in NY, London and Tokyo. However, when it comes to the villages and countryside, the scene becomes totally different.

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Although Brazil might not do better than China in economic development, its small towns look much more developed.

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Southern towns in Brazil specialize in winemaking. There are many vineyards and wineries of different scales. Seems like people in the towns live quite a quality life. That is why the future economic growth of China will mostly rely on the development of sub-urban areas and countryside.

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Trip to Brazil V – Visit to UAM

I visited Carol’s school – Anhembi Morumbi University today. Yes the name is too long to remember – just call it UAM. There are over 170 universities in Brazil that offer the fashion major, this number is closed to the 200 in China (but we have 1.3 billion population! The number of fashion schools in Brazil is far beyond my expectation). I did a brief presentation of Chinese fashion to the students (btw Carol your students are wonderful! They asked some really good questions!). I always ask the audience about what they think of China before I start my presentation. Guess what are the answers from the students? Although we are in an internet age – I found very often we still know very little about each other (not only between China and Brazil, but all of other countries too). Are we really in a global village now? My Chinese friends are all so excited at my trip to Brazil – because by now none of them has been to this amazing country and they are all so curious about this place.

One common feature about teaching at fashion classes – no matter which country you are in – China, USA, Europe, now Latin American – you always see much more girls than boys, yes much more! Each class often only has one-two male students, but most top designers are men – guess why?

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Brazilian Trip IV – Local Handcraft

To me hot sightseeing spots are no longer the most interesting parts for travel. What I am more interested in are the local independent designers’ boutiques (btw, I do not own any luxury brand in my wardrobe. Independent designers’ labels are my favorite). Local museums and galleries are must-visit. Last but not the least the local handcrafts. This photo is taken in a local handcraft store. Can you guess what is it?

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A lamp shade made of fish skin.

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Wooden sculptures. Wooden sculptures are almost available in many countries but their styles differ dramatically.

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Look at this lovely doll! Do you feel a strong Brazilian flavor? Especially the colors.

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The funeral.

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The wedding.

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Guess what’s this? It has practical function.

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Local handcraft market. Look at these interesting dolls.

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These are two pairs of good friends.

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Trip to Brazil III – Local Fashion Brands

A local Brazilian brand – Havaiana, who started business from flip-flops. Color is everywhere in Brazil – all vibrant, bold and energetic. From the colors you can tell how much Brazilian people love the nature. Chinese designers also love nature but their work show a very different taste of ‘nature’. We tend to show the nature in a more ‘peaceful’ form (as opposed to the Brazilian’s ‘active’ form) – our colors are more neutral (other than vibrant) – black, white, grey, dark blue… It is interesting to see how different nation translates the same object (phenomenon) in different cultural context. As I said yesterday food and houses in Sao Paulo are expensive, but clothes/shoes here are relatively cheaper than they are in China. Very good values for money!

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This is a local prestige designer’s store, just like McQueen’s position in Europe.

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A Beachwear store.

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Stay quite a while in this sunglasses store. Very cool sunglasses and watches. Some of the designs are exclusive to this store only. I was so tempted into them.

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