S.O.F.A. patron David Grant has just got back from a lecture trip to China
Just back from another trip to China (my sixth in six years) and getting over the jet lag in time for the virtual congress. For the last six years David Lloyd (ex Professor of veterinary dermatology at the RVC) and myself have traveled to various parts of China to teach a course in veterinary dermatology. We do just a week of the six-week course, which aims to get colleagues up to certificate level in the subject. Other lecturers on the course have included Richard Halliwell, Craig Griffin and Chiara Noli to name just a few.
China has been a revelation with massive skyscrapers, luxury cars everywhere, a seemingly booming economy (apparently not as I write this) and superb, almost always full restaurants. Our Chinese colleagues are busy building successful practices and the entrepreneurial ones already own three of more clinics. It seems small animal practice is big business.
This time the lectures were in Zhuhai a one-hour ferry trip from Hong Kong. In a previous year we had been to Shenzhen on the other side of the Pearl River Delta but also just an hour on the ferry. At the last minute we were invited to lecture in Macao, giving the opportunity to see something of the gambling capital of the world. We elected to fly via Helsinki to Hong Kong with Finnair. This turned out to be a good choice-very comfortable planes and excellent food. This year new Airbus 350 jets will service this route and the flights are less expensive than the competitors.
Arriving at Hong Kong and transferring to Macao could not be easier. A short walk to the well signposted Star Pier where you can buy tickets for the ferry. Staff scan the baggage labels, fetch the bags and put them on the ferry. When you board, and your ticket is scanned, a green tick indicates that the suitcases are on board.
Met by our hosts for two days we settled in the Holiday Inn and had time to look around. 90% of income for Macao is as a result of the massive casinos. We walked through just one of them to get to breakfast. It is very difficult to describe the casinos-they are absolutely massive and crammed with gamblers day and night. In the Venetian Macao complex is the biggest casino of the lot, along with hundreds of all the high-end retail stores. But possibly the most amazing sight was on the second floor of the complex-a mock up of Venice complete with gondoliers and canals. Apparently a similar set up exists in Las Vegas but our hosts were quick to point out that Macao was much bigger.
Macao is worth a visit for a day or two for shopping and maybe a trip to the casino. We also had the opportunity to visit a very well equipped small animal hospital. After giving a couple of lectures to the local veterinary association it was time to cross the border with Mainland China. Fortunately we were chaperoned across because about 100, 000 gamblers, it seemed, had the same idea. A week of intensive lectures followed with very little time to see much of Zhuhai. It is known as a holiday destination in China and has been voted as one of the most livable cities. The area has also been called the Chinese Riviera. The weather, just before Christmas, was a pleasant 23 degrees and sunny. The main attraction of the city is its hotels, bars, restaurants and a fine beach.
After finishing the course we were allocated a driver who showed us around some of the attractions nearby including an 18th century village, which had been trashed during the Cultural Revolution but was now being renovated, another beach and a mangrove swamp complete with wooden walkways.
I managed 7 hours sleep on the Hong Kong-Helsinki leg and arrived In London surprisingly refreshed. I enjoyed Macao and Zhuhai and they are two destinations that need a bit more time. Also the interaction during the course with our Asian colleagues from Malaysia, Thailand and China was great fun and many friendships have been made as a result. A social highlight of the week was a course dinner generously sponsored by Elanco, China –veterinary friendship at its best.
By David Grant