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Mandarin Dream

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 12th Oct 2013

There is a wave sweeping our basketball-shaped globe of more than 80million mainland denizens venturing outward.

Whether they are wheeling a sturdy Sarnsonite, or the uber-chic Rimowa in pastel colours, the flood gates are open.

Hoteliers, while not always the sharpest tools in the shed, have at least for a number of years led the cultural revolutionary charge by providing noodles in mini bars and putting dim sum and congee onto their breakfast buffets.

Sure, you think these are only token gestures but check out the line that extends from the 7-Eleven across the street when the tour bus arrives and the hunt for comfort food is unleashed.

My early memories of China, growing up in America, were full of stereotypes: academics carrying dog-eared copies of The Little Red Book or pre-hipster era fashionable Mao caps.

There was of course my hero Bruce Lee from The Green Hornet, and the ultimate wanderer Caine on the TV show Kung Fu.

Remember this was prior to China's open door policy, and the anti-hero Nixon recognising ping pong as an idiom for the fact that there was more to the world than the west.

Slowly the curtain was lifted, and the left and right met somewhere in the middle of what started out as a trickling stream and is now a raging river.

Shifting our thoughts to real estate, one of the lurking questions in most Asian countries is how to tap into the vast potential of Chinese property buyers.

Tourism has been an easy nut to crack, but bricks and mortar -except in the cases of Hong Kong and Singapore -have been more elusive than finding life on Mars.

My attempts at embracing Chinese culture pretty much end at the intersection of knowing how to hand out a business card the proper way, being able to pick up peanuts with chop sticks, and having two mainstay karaoke songs at the ready which I can stumble through no matter how much I've had to drink.

To say my attempts at cultural crossover are weak and pathetic is an understatement.

And yet I, like so many, recognise the changes in the wind, see the freight train coming down the tracks and know who will likely be a main market force for decades to come.

So where do you start? I'm not quite sure that at the moment there is anything to do but let the market evolve and shift into a higher cycle.

So much of the demand comes from Mainland Chinese who are connecting the dots of property, education and even immigration, and see the UK, North America and Australia as the immediate fields of play.

It's more than apparent that the tables have been bizarrely turned and the flow is going from the East back into the West.

This could last for quite some time and while there is merit in trying to convert the horde of excited travellers into property buyers, with numbers clearly too big to ignore, the trickle down effect is likely to be a long term process.

Bruce Lee said it best as "I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations and you're not in this world to live up to mine."

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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