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Photographer's Note

I’m just back from a quick trip to Interlaken, so thought I would post a picture from there in case I am boring anyone with my Greenland postings.

No, I haven’t posted this under the wrong country – this is Interlaken, China - not Interlaken, Switzerland, but the similarities are entirely intentional.

This is a replica of the Swiss Interlaken that has been built by the Chinese property developer, OCT Group, at a place they have called OCT East – a nine sq km eco-tourism development in the mountains north-east of Shenzhen city in Yantian district.

The OCT Group have spent about US$430 million over the past three years building a five-star resort and spa, golf courses, the Interlaken village, an ancient tea town (you may ask why they need to build a ‘fake’ one when there are so many real ones in China!), a 1,400 seat theatre, a large man-made waterfall, a viaduct for a Disneyland type steam train that takes tourists through reforested valleys, and all sorts of other Disney-ish attractions.

These sorts of artificial environments are not normally to my taste, but I have to say they have done a good job here incorporating an existing tea plantation into the development and a massive amount of reforestation – even a cynic like me found it quite a relaxing place for a couple of days.

It has only been open for three weeks, so perhaps it won’t be so relaxing when hordes of people from Hong Kong and Shenzhen start descending on it. You can be in OCT East in less than two hours from the centre of Hong Kong (and that’s allowing for half an hour to get through immigration and customs at the Chinese border) so I would imagine this will become a popular respite from the muggy summer weather for Hong Kong residents once they get to know about this place.

I would guess that the mist in the background is about 95% low cloud and 5% air pollution as this place is close to the Pearl River delta, an industrial region that produces a lot of the air pollution from which Hong Kong suffers these days. However, up here in the mountains the air pollution is not so bad, so that’s probably another reason that this resort will attract a lot of local business.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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