Study Buddy: From Singapore’s gondola ride to Bangkok’s downtown forest park, 6 new Southeast Asian tourist attractions

  • Countries and businesses in Southeast Asia have new attractions for returning visitors post-Covid, from a sculpture park in Da Nang, Vietnam to a theme park in Malaysia
  • Use the provided pre-reading activity, comprehension questions, vocabulary practice and writing prompt to test your understanding of the article
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The Benjakitti Forest Park, Bangkok’s biggest park, features sprawling wetlands, which have already attracted a significant population of birds. Photo: Ronan O’Connell

1. Pre-reading questions

1. Have you ever travelled outside Hong Kong? If so, where? If not, where would you like to go if you have the chance after the pandemic?

2. Would you ever consider a career in the tourism industry?

3. Why do you think tourists are interested in Hong Kong?

2. Comprehension

Read the following text and answer questions 1-18.

Source: Adapted from “From a vertical gondola ride in Singapore to Bangkok’s downtown forest park, six new Southeast Asian tourist attractions” by Ronan O’Connell, South China Morning Post, 28 May 2022.

Kuala Lumpur’s Saloma Link Bridge is perfect for Instagram photos. Photo: Kuala Lumpur City Hall

Questions (39 marks)

1. Complete the following notes based on paragraph 2 by writing ONE word in each blank below. Your answers must be grammatically correct. (4 marks)

Four reasons why the writer finds it difficult to believe he is in downtown Bangkok when he visits Benjakitti Forest Park:

(i) There is no crazy _______________.
(ii) There is much _______________ noise.
(iii) The skyscrapers are in the _______________.
(iv) He is standing _______________ a wetland as wild birds land in it.

2. What does “this problem” (line 8) refer to?

3. Decide whether the following statements in paragraph 3 are Fact or Opinion. Blacken ONE circle only for each statement. (5 marks)

4. “Birds-eye view” (line 13) means …
A. a close-up view of wetland birds.
B. a close-up view of birds.
C. a view from a high angle.
D. a view of a large number of birds.

5. What does “the area” (line 13) refer to?

6. What do the phrases “photogenic attractions” (line 16) and “Instagram fodder” (line 19) imply about Kuala Lumpur?

7. According to paragraph 6, …
A. Kampung Baru is one of the most modern areas in KL.
B. the Saloma Link Bridge has both a footbridge and an expressway.
C. the Saloma Link Bridge was built along a stream.
D. Kampung Baru has a large Muslim population.

8. What does “this gap” (line 29) refer to?

9. What does “its” (line 33) refer to?

10. What fact in paragraph 8 is the author not sure of?

11. Decide whether the following statements are True, False, or the information is Not Given in paragraphs 8 and 9. (5 marks)
(i) Da Nang’s main attractions in the past were its beaches.
(ii) The APEC Sculpture Park was extended in 2017.
(iii) Sentosa Island has beaches, theme parks and lush countryside.
(iv) The SkyHelix Sentosa rotates as it descends.
(v) Singapore does not have any natural beauty.

12. What are guests seated in when riding the SkyHelix Sentosa according to paragraph 9?

13. According to paragraph 11, who died in the Thai Cave Rescue?

14. Find a word in paragraphs 12 and 13 that has a similar meaning to each word given below. (4 marks)
(i) ends __________________
(ii) accompanied __________________
(iii) man-made __________________
(iv) famous __________________

15. According to paragraph 13, …
A. Manila used to be renowned for its beaches.
B. tourists prefer to stay in Manila.
C. Manila has interesting historical sites.
D. artificial sand was added to the dirty sand already on the foreshore of the bay.

16. Based on the information in paragraph 14, complete the summary by writing ONE word in each blank below. Your answers must be grammatically correct. (5 marks)

Despite being (i) __________________ for some periods during the pandemic, the beach is very popular, sometimes (ii) __________________ over 100,000 visitors in a day. Visitors now have to register for a time slot, so the (iii) __________________ are smaller now. Visitors can go on the (iv) __________________, but not in the (v) __________________.

17. According to paragraph 14, why are people not allowed to swim at the artificial beach in Manila?

18. Match the city on the left with the statement on the right that describes one of the city’s features mentioned in the text. Write the letter (A–F) on the line next to the city’s name. TWO of the statements are not used. Each letter can be used only ONCE. (4 marks)

Baywalk Dolomite Beach has become a key tourist attraction in Manila. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Vocabulary

  • archipelago (n) (line 57) – group of islands
  • ascend (vb) (line 41) – rise, go up
  • curb (vb) (line 64) – control or limit something
  • din (n) (line 4) – a loud continuous noise
  • fodder (n) (line 19) – things that are useful for a certain purpose
  • muted (adj) (line 4) – quiet, softer than usual
  • panoramic (adj) (line 39) – with a view of a wide area of land
  • photogenic (adj) (line 16) – a face that looks attractive in photographs
  • reprieve (n) (line 37) – temporary relief from discomfort
  • span (vb) (line 21) – cover the complete distance between two things
  • sprawling (adj) (line 12) – spreading over a large area
  • stilted (adj) (line 23) – on a set of posts to keep it above ground or water
  • surreal (adj) (line 6) – very strange; like a dream
  • trove (n) (line 16) – a valuable collection of something

Vocabulary Quiz 1: Place one word from the box in each blank, using the correct form of the word.

1. Unlike the waves back home which sound like __________________ thunder when they crash on the shore, the waves here are gentle, making this quiet beach a popular tourist spot.
2. From somewhere ahead, there came a __________________ of shouting voices. It seemed that the couple next door had started fighting again
3. From the southern tip of Kyushu to the northern tip of Hokkaido, the five main islands of the Japanese __________________ span about 1,500 miles.
4. The road on the mountain above the town gives visitors a __________________ view as far as the eye can see.
5. We must __________________ our anger and avoid acting out in violence.
6. My clients provide me with early access to new products and breaking news, and this becomes great __________________ for my blog posts.
7. He’d heard about people who __________________ the mountain too quickly and developed headaches because they didn’t allow their bodies enough time to adjust to the reduced oxygen and changes in air pressure.

Vocabulary Quiz 2: Place one word from the box in each blank, using the correct form of the word.

1. It feels strange and __________________ to be here receiving this award for a novel I wrote from my bedroom. It feels like I’m dreaming.
2. With countless homes on the mountains’ many hills and valleys, the __________________ village was much larger than the visitor had imagined it would be.
3. Trainers tell me that more gyms are looking for unconventional assets in the employees they hire: the managers often want private trainers to be __________________ and to have a big social media following.
4. Inside the six-storey mansion is a treasure __________________ of rare oil paintings and premium, hand-stitched rugs.
5. I thought it would be such a great experience for us to stay in a traditional bahay kubo, a __________________ home which is known for keeping inhabitants dry in floods during the wet season
6. I can name three countries that __________________ two continents: Russia (Europe and Asia), Turkey (Europe and Asia) and Egypt (Africa and Asia).
7. I entered the warm library, grateful for some __________________ from the unrelenting winter cold.

4. Writing

Write about 300 words on the following topic:

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is promoting “staycations” during the pandemic to encourage Hong Kong residents to take vacations at home and explore parts of Hong Kong they might not have seen before.

Write a letter to Dr Y.K. Pang, Chairman of the HKTB, suggesting what HKTB can do to encourage Hong Kong people to go on staycations more often. Give reasons to support your suggestions. Sign your letter as Chris Wong.

The SkyHelix Sentosa provides beautiful panoramic views of the city. Photo: SkyHelix Sentosa


1. Pre-reading questions – sample answers

1. Have you ever travelled outside Hong Kong? If so, where? If not, where would you like to go if you have the chance after the pandemic?

No, I have never been outside Hong Kong. If I have the chance to travel in the next couple of years I think I would like to visit Japan or South Korea in the winter and perhaps try a new sport, like skiing.

Yes, I have visited several places in the mainland. My family has an ancestral home in Guangdong province, and we have quite a few relatives in the area. It’s always fun to visit them. I miss that.

2. Would you ever consider a career in the tourism industry?

I know the tourism industry has a very bad reputation now since tourism has been closed down here for two and a half years, but I still think it has a lot of potential because people love to travel. I like meeting new people, and I know a lot about Hong Kong, so I would definitely consider a career in the tourism industry if this horrible pandemic ever ends.

No, I would not. I think the wages are below average, and the industry is affected too much by external factors beyond our control. I would rather choose a more stable industry.

3. Why do you think tourists are interested in Hong Kong?

Most tourists stay in the urban area, so it must be the food and shopping that interests them. Hong Kong is a shopper’s paradise with huge variety and very competitive prices since we have no sales tax. And the food here must be the best in the world, again with huge variety from cha chaan teng to Michelin-starred restaurants with food from all over the world. We also have incredible natural beauty, with our beaches, country parks, islands and the Hong Kong Geopark.

2. Reading comprehension answers (39 marks)

1. (i) traffic (ii) less (iii) distance (iv) above
2. the lack of parkland
3. (i) Opinion (ii) Fact (iii) Opinion (iv) Opinion (v) Fact
4. C
5. Benjakitti Forest Park // the park and wetland
6. Kuala Lumpur has a lot of picturesque places for taking photos // Kuala Lumpur has a lot of picturesque places for taking photos to upload on social media
7. D
8. the lack of attractions
9. the APEC Sculpture Park’s
10. whether Da Nang’s Ferris wheel is the world’s fourth-largest one
11. (i) T (ii) F (iii) T (iv) NG (v) F
12. a gondola
13. two rescuers
14. (i) terminates (ii) complemented (iii) artificial (iv) renowned
15. C
16. (i) closed (ii) attracting (iii) crowds (iv) sand (v) water/ocean
17. It is too dirty. / It needs to be purified. / It is unsafe.
18. (i) B (ii) A (iii) E (iv) C

3. Vocabulary answers

Quiz 1: 1. muted 2.din 3.archipelago 4.panoramic 5.curb 6.fodder 7.ascended

Quiz 2: 1. surreal 2.sprawling 3.photogenic 4.trove 5.stilted 6.span 7.reprieve

4. Writing – sample answer (319 words)

Dear Dr Y.K. Pang

I am writing to suggest a few ideas for staycations to encourage Hong Kong people to relax and explore Hong Kong instead of travelling to other places.

First, promote Hong Kong hotels. As you well know, Hong Kong has a huge range of hotels, from ones with budget-friendly prices to five-star accommodations, so almost everyone can afford at least a weekend vacation in Hong Kong, especially if the hotels and the HKTB work together to give discounts or other incentives.

Second, promote Hong Kong’s islands and beaches. Hong Kong has about 250 islands and myriad beaches, many of them as beautiful as any beaches anywhere else in Asia. How many of these places have most Hong Kong people visited? Probably less than one per cent. Some are easy to get to, while others require a long hike or even a boat. I know you provide a lot of information on the HKTB website about the most interesting places, but perhaps you could also promote some of the less popular but still beautiful spots to encourage people to visit them and give some welcome business to the small family restaurants, rental boat companies and hotels in those areas.

Third, promote the Hong Kong Geopark. Although the geopark’s website provides detailed information about every geosite in the park, a lot of people still don’t know about it and don’t realise that Hong Kong has a world-class geopark right at their doorstep. It has tremendous variety, from the islands and giant volcanic columns in Sai Kung to the Guilin-type beauty and serenity of Double Haven in the northeast waters of the New Territories. The HKTB could recruit social media influencers to bring more attention to these lesser-known spots.

These are just a few suggestions. Of course, Hong Kong has even more to offer. Thank you for your excellent idea to promote staycations in Hong Kong.

Chris Wong

Sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club

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