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By: Erin Chan、Maggie LiuEdited by: Holly Chik

Health & Environment

Smart Barcelona

Stroll down La Rambler in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona any day and see tourists and vendors fighting for space on the walkway alongside stalls offering souvenirs. Nearly 30 million visitors each year pack down the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter in the old part of the city, according to Euromonitor. A tour guide, Aranxia Gonzales explained that the demand for accommodation is pushing locals out of the property market. " When you buy a property in Spain, you own it for life," she said, " and that means older folks who have lived here for a long time now have to put up with tourists as neighbours." By 2017, there were 16,000 holiday rentals, as reported by Barcelona City Council. According to a 2018 study by University of Paris Sud, when Airbnb started in Barcelona, rent rocketed by 28% between 2013 and 2016. In addition, there were more than 7000 illegal hostels. The number of private flats rented out to tourists reportedly went up nine times in a year. The city government has since hired a team of inspectors to look for illegal hostels. Owners may be fined up to €60,000. Paola Santoro, an Italian expat who has been living in Barcelona for eight years, explained that the influx of tourists has bumped up the rent in even further. "The demand for accommodation by tourists meant many apartments are being converted into apartments for tourists only," Paola said. "The average salary of a person in Barcelona is approximately € 1000-1500. The average monthly rent for a flat in Barcelona is also € 1000. A person with an average salary cannot afford to rent a flat, so many people are forced to share a flat with other people to reduce expenses." Barcelona, Paola thought, has become a city for …


Last day before Tiananmen closes for maintenance

The red flag with yellow stars slowly descends as the sun goes down at the Tiananmen square, marking not only the end of a day in Beijing but also the last day before the 700-year-old castle wall closes for maintenance. The Tiananmen District Management Committee announced on Tuesday that the heritage would be closed from 15 June to April next year. It is the first time Tiananmen close for repairment after its major renovation in the 1970s. The maintenance would mainly improve on waterproofing the Tiananmen tower, repairing and replacing tubings and equipments which have reached its life time, and conserving the heritage. The flag raising and lowering ceremony take place everyday at sunrise and sunset. Tourists, mostly Chinese, starts to gather on the plaza shortly after six, 90 minutes before the flag lowering ceremony. Mandy Yip, a tourist from Hong Kong said she chose to come today because the tower is closing the day after. "We didn't plan to come today, but we heard from the news that it is closing, so we came to visit before it is draped," she said. Li Feng, a Tianjin tourist who came to Beijing with his girlfriend also said they came knowing today is the last day of the building. "I do not have any special feelings about the building, but I still came knowing I could not visit it in a year." On the square, there are many cameramen who win breads by taking photos of tourists in front of the Tiananmen. "The maintenance is a catastrophe to me. It would no longer be attractive for photo-taking. I may go jobless," Wang Chao, one of the photographers said. Yet not all businesses think alike, Chen Yi-lin, who runs a vending truck said she is not worried at all. "I have never …

Photo Essay

Gaudí's Barcelona

Sagrada Família is kind of hard to miss in Barcelona, not only because of its height and size, but it is unusual to see a seemingly old building constantly surrounded by construction cranes. On the day of visit, tourists craned their necks to gawk at the spire, some with the ice-cream they just bought from one of the mant vendors dripping down their front as they gawked at the spires.  Other posed as the crucified Christ outside the main doors. Unlike most crucifixes, the Jesus figure on this one stares down at an angle, almost as if he is flying. Such unconventional and sometimes over decorated designs are iconic of the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). His work defines Catalan Modernism. Between 1984 to 2005, seven of his masterpieces were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, including Casa Batlló, Park Güell and the unfinished basilica, Sagrada Família. More than six million tourists visited Spain in April, according to the country’s government data, and Sagrada Família alone drew more than three million people. A survey by Statista indicates that other masterpieces by Gaudí, including Park Guell, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló also rank among the top destinations. In 1877, Gaudí designed his first building, Casa Vicens, under the commission of a merchant Manuel Vicens, on Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona. Further down the boulevard stands Casa Batlló with its colourful mosaic and dragon-like balconies. The line for tickets to these building may be long, but many more people pose for selfies outside. Visiting everyone of these Gaudí site in the city will set you back more than 100 euros ($923). Gaudí conceived those richly sophisticated columns, vaults and other geometric structures abstracted from "the Great Book of Nature." He once said, "The line belongs to human beings, and the curve belongs …


Catalonia's brewing independence

Spain has a new prime minister this week. Pedro Sanchez defeated his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy in a vote of no confidence. Rajoy is embroiled in a corruption scandal. Although Basque and Catalan nationalist parties voted in favour of Sanchez, it is unclear whether they will support his government. Sanchez, like Rajoy, will likely have to contend with Catalonia’s continuing fight to split from Spain. Walk past any major street in Barcelona and you will notice row upon row of flags fluttering from balconies. In Catalonia, the Senyera estelada, is a symbol of independence. Some of these yellow and red striped ensigns with a lone white star have been there for so long that the stripes have been bleached almost pink and white by the sun. But the newer polemic symbol of Catalonia’s quest to split from Spain are the yellow ribbons. These too are all over Barcelona: spray painted on pavements, tied to railings and lampposts, some of them, giant displays outside residential building stretching several storeys high. Yellow ribbons have become more common since last October when pro-independence parties claimed that most people in Catalonia chose independence from Spain in a referendum. Liz Castro is an American writer and publisher living in Barcelona. In May 2015, she was elected national secretary of the Catalan National Assembly, a grassroot movement for Catalan independence and Ms. Castro is currently chairwoman of the Assembly’s international committee. She has been writing about Catalonia’s fight for independence for years and is also an activist in the Catalan independence movement. Following last year’s referendum, Ms. Castro wrote The Street Will Always Be Ours. Ms. Castro said that Spain is actively suppressing the Catalan economy by not funding the infrastructure that the region needs. "Catalonia represents 16% of the population but Spain only allocates ten or …

Real Madrid soccer training school – A dream for young talents

  • 2018-06-04

Real Madrid defeated Liverpool in last Saturday's UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine. The Spanish division A team has won the crown 13 times in 63 years, and Liverpool only five times. This was the second time the two teams met in the European Cup Final in 37 years. Might Real Madrid's change in its strategy on team building explain its success in recent years? Before 2007, Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid, used Galácticos to boost the league's performance. That is, they built the teams with superstar players hired from all over the world. Critics said the commercial approach drew attention but failed to prepare players, leading to unsatisfactory league results. The departure of David Beckham marked the end of the Galácticos era. Since 2007, Real Madrid has put its focus on nurturing young talents. That's reflected in its multi-million investment in Ciudad de Real Madrid, the world's largest soccer training school. Located in Valdebebas Park in Madrid, the school covers an area of 1,200,000 square metres, including dressing rooms, gymnasiums, classrooms, conference rooms, a hydrotherapy pool and medical centres. There are 10 grass football pitches with a capacity for more than 11,000 spectators. According to a spokesman for the school, more than 3,000 boys from across the European Union vie for a position at Ciudad de Real Madrid every year. The youngest is only six years old. Most of them are from across Spain since parents from outside the country are unlikely to be able to accompany their children in the Spanish capital during their training. It is many boy's dreams to get into Real Madrid but not everyone has the chance to make their dreams come true. "Of the 3,000 boys who apply to the school, only 44 are selected every year," he said. The …


Witness testifies that he heard one defendant said he murdered someone over the phone

The trial of three men who are charged with murder and preventing lawful burial of Cheung Man-li, a 28-year-old man whose body was buried in cement, continued. The witness heard the defendant said he had murdered someone. Witness Tong King-shing, a friend of Mr. Tsang Cheung-yan "Ah T", one of the defendants, said there were conversations that they had murdered a person in Hong Kong over the phone. Mr. Tong, when questioned whether he had asked why Mr. Tsang was in Taiwan, said Mr. Tsang mentioned that he was travelling. In March 2016, he began to continuously ask Mr. Tong to lend him a couple thousand Hong Kong dollars. When Mr. Tsang called Mr. Tong in Taiwan again to ask for money, he heard clearly that there were people in the background. "I heard three male voices, including Ah Ho, the second defendant Lau Shek-ho and KK, the third defendant Cheung Sin-hang. Furthermore, he said that someone in the background of the conversation said "the dead body was buried in cement. Even the hydraulic, air fresheners and perfumes cannot cover the smell." After being questioned by the defendant's representative whether he was absolutely sure that it was Ah Ho talking, Mr. Tong replied that he was sure that Ah Ho called Ah T ‘dumb fuck’, while he was unsure who mentioned about the smell and the burial. Mr. Tong mentioned that Ah T told him that they "powed" a person in Hong Kong. "From my understanding, "powed" means murder but because they said it in a light-hearted matter, I did not think they were serious," explained Mr. Tong. Mr. Tong said that Mr. Tsang kept pestering him about lending money. In one instance, he asked him to borrow $6,000 from someone named "Papa" in Mong Kok, then wire the money …


Filipino President makes move to improve relations with China

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Katherine Li、Rachel YeoEdited by: Raphael Blet、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-04-13

More than 2,000 members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong gathered in Kai Tak Cruise Terminal to meet the Filipino President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the evening of April 12th, where he expressed his intentions on strengthening Filipino-Chinese relations and continuing to combat criminal activities. "Just like my grandfather, we are of Chinese descent. In Hong Kong especially there is a lot of Chinese descent Filipinos, so this is part of destiny." said Duterte. According to the Census and Statistics Department, there are around 222,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, with more than 355 Filipino community organizations registered with the Philippine Consulate General, the ties run deep between the Philippines and Hong Kong. "China has being very good to us. As a matter of fact, among other things amounting to billions, I got a grant of 500 million yuan (around $625 billion) which would be about 4 billion pesos." said Duterte. He revealed that the grant from China will be used on hospitals and improving the situation in Marawi, an Islamic city in Mindanao province which was occupied by terrorists in 2017. After battling the terrorists and implementing martial law, the government besieged the city. He assured the Filipinos in Hong Kong not to worry about their country because it is doing well, while he pledges to create more work opportunities for them so that they no longer have to become domestic helpers in the future, but professionals with careers. He also made the first official apology over the Manila hostage incident in 2010 which caused eight people from Hong Kong to lose their lives, although the incident did not occur under his presidency. "There has been no official apologies regarding the August 2010 incident. May I address myself to the Chinese people. From the bottom of my heart, in behalf of …

The Young Reporter Vol. 50

  • 2018-03-19


Health & Environment

Beware of sugar-coated Lunar New Year food health snare

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Rachel YeoEdited by: Alexandra Lin、Sammi Chan、Maggie Liu
  • 2018-03-19

Can government do more to ease unhealthy consumption of Chinese New Year food? Eat one Lunar New Year rice cake and you’ve almost hit your daily sugar limit. With 21 grams of sugar, a rice cake comes close to the World Health Organisation’s recommended 25 grams a day. "Sugar is just as addictive as cocaine with similar effects on our brain, making it extremely irresistible," Denise Tam, a Holistic Nutritionist at the brand Food for Life, said. "That is why once we start, it's hard to stop." According to SingHealth, a healthcare institution based in Singapore, Chinese New Year delicacies contain excessive carbohydrates and sugar, which can cause weight gain in the short-term and much more serious long-term problems. Sugar plays a major role in the development of diabetes and heart disease, the institution warns. Both diseases are among Hong Kong’s top causes of mortality. Diabetes even enters the top ten and heart-related diseases account for 13.2% of all deaths in the city, according to government statistics. Eurasian CrossFit coach Anthony Haynes, 29, said he never eats traditional New Year’s treats, even during obligatory visits to his Chinese relatives’ homes. Instead, he consumes lean meats, steering clear of anything with excess MSG, salt or sugar. "I try to avoid them like a plague as much as I can, even for (the) festive season," he said. "It’s a bit sad, but I’m quite extreme." With a plethora of annual treats - such as deep-fried niangao (rice cake), peanut snacks and candied fruit - it is not easy to abstain while socialising.   Holly Liu Hoi-ning, 19, said she knows they are unhealthy but eats them anyway. "We only eat (Chinese New Year) food once a year, why not be carefree and eat all we want? If people calculate how much calories …

Health & Environment

Getting rid of insomnia with an app?

Jola Mok tosses and turns in her bed for hours every night. The death of a close relative when Ms. Mok was 19 has taken its toll on her mental health. "I am afraid of going to bed," Ms. Mok said. Every evening, she feels anxious to face another long night. Some 40% of people in Hong Kong suffer from insomnia , according to a survey conducted by the Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch of the Centre for Health Protection in 2015. Nearly half of the respondents said they had sleep disturbances, including difficulty in falling asleep, intermittent awakenings or difficulty in maintaining sleep during the night" and waking up early and unable to sleep again. "Stress is usually the main cause of insomnia. If people cannot handle stress well, insomnia may be one of the consequences," said Dr. Dennis Cheung Ching-ping, a specialist in psychiatry. Ms. Mok is among them. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and that led to insomnia. People who suffer from sleeping problems sometimes seek help from doctors or psychologists. Recently, patients with insomnia look for alternatives, for example, applications on their phones that might relieve  insomnia. Might these apps be a handy way to alleviate sleep disturbances? "Sleep Better with Runtastic", "Void" and "SleepTown" are some mobile apps that help people arrange a well-organised sleep schedule. Some track users’ sleep cycle, help them relax and provide motivation to eliminate the habit of using mobile phones before sleep. "Sleep Better with Runtastic"  was by Runtastic, an Austrian mobile fitness company. The app focuses on tracking users’ diet and exercise habits and links them with sleep quality. After users enter their stress level, caffeine consumption and dreams in the app, it then analyses the data. Users can then understand the fundamental causes of their sleep disorders …