Richard Bangs is a celebrated travel journalist and TV personality. He is host of the “Quest for Harmony” show which has been featured on PBS and American Broadcast TV. In the show he explores Hong Kong, Macau & Guangdong to discover the ancient and contemporary expressions of harmony. He has very kindly agreed to answer some questions so we can get a behind-the-scenes perspective on what it was like filming there. Here are his answers about his experience filming in The Pearl River Delta and what advice he has for fellow travellers:
1. What is your favorite word to describe The Pearl River Delta?
A Treasure Chest
2. What is your favorite indoor activity in the area?
Looking out the windows…could there be anything more beautiful?
3. What is your favorite sound or noise in the area?
The infectious laughter you hear from the locals!
4. What is your favorite smell or taste in The Pearl River Delta?
The intoxicating perfumes of spices and teas
5. What song or type of music best reflects the area?
Cantonese opera and Cantopop
6. What was most memorable/challenging part of production shooting?
The greatest challenge: Resisting the restaurants. Life in the Pearl River Delta is merely the interlude between meals, and rightly so. The culinary offerings are like Chinese opera – rich, colorful, and hypnotic, and the medley of enticing smells wafting from every corner made it hard to concentrate on filming.
7. We know you’ve been to China many times before, what were your new findings/discoveries on this trip?
So, so many. I have been visiting Hong Kong since the 70s, and was amazed at its world-leading art scene, restaurants, and wines. I remember Macau as a sleepy backwater, and was stunned to see that it has emerged as one of the most dynamic cities in the world. It is a city of dreams come true, and has somehow forged a searing sense of harmony with its traditional roots. And in Gwangdong I discovered a world of grand nature never imagined, dialing back to a time when landscapes governed the earth. Never have I experienced so many ecologically-integrous wonders so accessible, from Nature’s great sculpture garden, Danxia Mountain Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site); to the brilliantly colorful limestone cave systems that rival, no surpass, Carlsbad; to the Gwangdong Grand Canyon, a gaping call to adventure, and its diadem of glory, the Chengtou Waterfall, which fonts from a high ravine like an unleashed dragon.
8. At what type of accommodation did you and your crew stay while shooting?
Always rooms with a View, with a capital V. From the top of the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong, the tallest hotel in the world where the clouds sail below your bedroom window; to the Four Seasons, which boasts not one but two Michelin Three Star restaurants; to the Venetian Macau, big enough to hold ninety Boeing 747s, with 3,000 rooms, more than 30 restaurants, and a million square feet of shops. Running through the heart of the hotel is a recreation of Venice’s Grand Canal, where gondoliers serenade passengers past the Italianate facades, large-scale replicas of famed Venice landmarks, such as the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square.
9. What advice would you give a traveling enthusiast taking a trip to the Pearl River Delta?
Don’t hesitate. So much is undiscovered or little known, and that won’t last. It now seems “Your Own Private Delight”. And bring an extra empty bag, because the shopping is absurdly wonderful
10. What did you enjoy most in Hong Kong? Macau? Guangdong?
Three pearls in one exquisite setting. Each distinct, yet bound together by a cultural veneration of harmony. What I enjoyed most in all three was a sensation of balance, an integration of different elements into a pleasing unity. There is here a dignifying a kind of harmony, an ambition of opposites in concert, that is not only agreeable, but irresistible. Just as a wick needs a flame, I can’t live without a sustained feeling of peace and harmony, and so inevitably find myself returning to the Pearl River Delta. And I promise, if you go, you will feel it, too.