June 19, 2013, by Tony Hong

Life in China can be fun-filled

By Nancy Ng Chai Lian,

Second Year Student, MSci Contemporary Chinese Studies, The University of Nottingham UK.

Someone said if you want your children to experience the high flyers’ lifestyle then send them to New York. At the same time if you want them to experience the tough and rough then send them to New York, too. From the posh posh of Manhattan to the downtrodden of Harlem the extremes can be unbelievable.  Not surprisingly, China is enjoying such economic growth threatening US in a close second, the above mention scenario is almost the same.

A wealth report by the Huran Report and GroupM Knowledge was released recently analyzing China’s staggering number of millionaires and super-rich. There are now 1,020,000 millionaires in China and 63,500 super-rich Chinese – a national record.

China has one of the most million and billionaires in a country. With the incredible rate of expansion and continuous economic growth the market is trying to cater for this group of ‘face loving’ people who have to find ways and means of showing off their riches. Lately, the trend is to invest in the most luxurious and expensive yachts, which is a symbol of their abundant cash flow.  I can foresee that one day they may invest in antique cars, golf clubs and even casinos. With the environment diminishing daily one would hardly imagine there are still places to go for fresher air.

Recently, I went to a scenic spot in Ningbo and after having climbed countless steps to the Five Dragon Waterfall, I finally got a taste of spring water – fresh from the mountain. No wonder one has to pay 50RMB for the entrance fee because in China, anything natural is not free. One has to pay costly to see a bit of beauty or to sniff a bit of fresh pure air. What we take for granted in the England like natural beauty and fresh air is almost a luxury here.

However, we had a chance invitation to a Horse Jockey Club in Fenghua which is about 20 km from Xikou and is the birthplace of General Chang Kaishek. Not expecting anything then, it took me by surprise that this is a place surrounded by mountains and lots of greens. Such was the tranquility I was captivated and wish that I could spend more time there.

Our host and CEO of the club was Mr Shu and his team was very hospitable in splashing out a generous lunch meal.  Then we were shown around the stables to befriend some elegant imported horses from Denmark which I found were very friendly. With a good cup of coffee to relax ourselves before taking a ride on these horses which was a good way to spend a perfect day. By the way, a 45 minute ride cost about 580 RMB.  This means, we made a savings of 600 RMB for a great experience.

Nonetheless, this is not a common place. This is for those privileged few who can afford such splashing out of cash. There are summer programs for children of 12 – 16 offering 8,000 kuai per head for 11 days learning at the Riding School, which also includes English lessons by native speaking teachers.  These are more for the elites and the rich second generation who one day may find horse riding or competition more attractive than their educational achievements.

Surprisingly, having been to some horse riding lessons in Lincoln, UK, which is far out in the farming outskirt of the city,  one can truly smell the rawness of the farm and animals.  There are no covered areas for training and no mountain views or springs. Perhaps in the UK one can buy farm eggs, organic fruits and veggies and see miles and miles of meadow. Though our horse riding lessons were more intense and more like a riding school, I did not have the chance to ride on elegant horses as I did here in Ningbo. In the UK we ride for leisure but here it is elegantly posh to be in this riding club. This is a mark of refinement and with the snug pleasure of the “can afford” feeling.

Perhaps, China is going to overtake the West in affording the best of life but a simple calculation would show that it may only be 0.0001 of the 1.3 billion who have the spending power. The rest are still on the other end of the spectrum – struggling for their everyday needs.

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