MINSK FAREWELL

 

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Looking onto the eastern part of SHenzhen from KK100

Hong Kong is the gateway into China, its strength its independence from the mainland, guaranteed for 50 years after the handover in 1997 (31 more to go) and guaranteed rule of law written and manifested in Hong Kong’s basic law.
Nonsense of course.
The basic law is open to interpretation, not only by China but now even by the Hong Kong government. The guaranteed (under the basic law) fair and free elections (universal suffrage) of Hong Kong’s chief executive (now dragged into 2017) are condensed to electing someone irrelevant screened and approved prior by Beijing.
It is fair to call the promises under ‘one country two systems’ a lie. Taiwan take note.
As a city Hong Kong also fails. Its main objective is to make money for the tycoon elite. Its government occupies itself with pleasing China, leaving the city to the bureaucrats with clipboards but no vision. After some irrelevant scuffle with bureaucrat clip boarders and street food vendors recently in Mong Kok, Beijing blamed the miniscule democratic party as separatist, a term up to now reserved for Uighur in the autonomous region in Xinjiang and Tibetans in the autonomous region of Tibet. The tycoons transform anything that is unique to Hong Kong into sterile faceless highrise property.
Perhaps China’s new gateway into China is Shenzhen, a special economic region (as opposed to Hong Kong’s status as special administrative region just to the other side of the border. Shenzhen grew form a fishing village into a 11 million city free from any images romantically associated with China: temples, lanterns, grey bric villages. Shenzhen associates with ecstasy parties, mistresses and massage parlors.
I am too fat for ecstasy parties, mistresses (particularly the Chinese type, being the foundation of all luxury brand stuff) I can not afford and massage parlors have closed down following China’s tough actions on prostitution.

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Shenzhen river dividing Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Ping An tower to the right will be China’s second tallest tower with 600m (after Shanghai Tower, 632m)
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Boy with toy rifle in a back street
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Man smoking
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Bicycle driver holding his daughter
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The ever present mobile phone
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Man talking with himself on two mobile devices
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Relaxing in a hammock

 

But until recently, Shenzhen had a particular attraction: hidden away just around the corner from Sha Tau Kok and unknown to most people (due to ignorance (Hong Kong) and no interest (Shenzhen) berthed the Minsk, a 300m soviet aircraft carrier, main (and only) part of the derelict ‘Minsk World’ theme park (interestingly a second soviet aircraft carrier theme park is located in Tianjin).

I tried getting to the carrier twice: once from Shenzhen. But taxi driver do not know about the ship’s existence. And going to Yantian, the parks closest area, requires bizarre taxi changes because taxi licenses do not overlap. Once in Yantian I could not find the 300m ship. Easier then getting there from Hong Kong, the ship is a stone throw away from Sha Tau Kok and, knowing where to look, visible from Hong Kong. But Sha Tau Kok used to lie within a restricted border area that required a special restricted border area permit issued by bureaucrats with clipboards. Only recently, that restriction has fallen, but the crossing became not less idiotic, since one could not simply walk across. In fact none of the crossing are walkable, all crossing require transportation, making the 50m walk into China a 50 Hong Kong Dollar one minute bus ride. It’s all pathetic, really.

The ship itself is quite impressive as is the fact that it has not sunk yet. The theme park does neither receive much founding nor money. The ship was commissioned in 1978 and decommissioned in 1993, is 273m long and was powered by four steam turbines, fired by ten oil burners (at a time when all US carrier vessels and the Ford Nucleon were nuclear powered). The entire deck with some MiG 23 fighters and some Mil Mi 24 helicopters is accessible. As is a loop through the command tower and the impressive hangar below deck. The only item still working as museum presentation is a turntable to launch torpedo. Crew quarters are accessible as well as missile silos, doubling as an exhibit of the ship itself but also the effort to make it presentable with stuffed figures and an impressive array of wooden ammunition. Little models are sunken into their ocean representing blue table cloths. The pictures on the wall exhibit crude dark room workman ship. And so the whole thing is a museum within a museum. Well, used to be, it’s been towed away very much unfortunately.

Interestingly, Hong Kong does receive regular visits from aircraft carriers, huge US ships. And in true Hong Kong spirit, none of these ships can be visited by the public.

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Still floating, Minsk Aircraft Carrier
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Missile, rusted onto its launcher
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Bridge with cutting edge technology of the 1970
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Port and starboard
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Engine order telegraph
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The sorry remains of a MiG 23
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Corroded rotor blades to look like banana leaves on a Mil Mi 24
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Missile silo and elevator
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Amunition depot
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Rocket in its launch pad

 

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The sorry exhibits floating on blue table cloth ocean pockets
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The now departed Minsk

 

 

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