Living on the outlying Islands some five years now, every day when getting off the boat Hong Kong greets me with a sturdy, green painted corrugated steel hoarding.
It’s a solid and tall hoarding, carefully concealing whatever is created inside. It has weathered typhoons and has blended effortlessly into the uninspired nothingness that is the sad environment of the outlying ferry piers. The fact that it seales off whatever is created within invites to dream (however humble though knowing that this is not the city of visions) of benches with backs to sit on, and, now dreaming somewhat daringly, of landscape offering shade and canopies providing shelter.
The hoarding is gone.
And reveals the utter blandness that is Hong Kong: shrubs. Five years for shrubs. No benches. No nothing. Welcome to Hong Kong.
But Hong Kong manages to lack vision on a bigger scale.
I recently had the chance to visit Hong Kong’s sludge treatment facility, aka STF in the world of abbreviation. WTF, a facility to turn shit into energy, LOL.
The thing is off to the side in Tuen Mun, that in itself reminiscent to sludge, And architecturally quite beautiful: sloping roofscape echoing the seaview the facility enjoys, elaborated curtain wall and extensive landscaping (making my daily shrubs blush). Not a whiff of sludge. The entire complex is self-sufficient and sustainable, generating its own electricity and water (and presumably some of its own sludge).
Disappointingly somewhat one in not invited to the real action but guided through an uninspired educational exhibition. Of interest is a yellow bucket to shovel sludge. The control centre, one floor down, cannot be visited, hence the outline of the desks and such are, well, outlined on the floor. Most inspiring. A glimpse into the real thing is provided by two window, looking onto pipes and ducts. On to the turbines, one floor down, accessed by disabled lifts with stairs to either side. The generators are shielded from view with green painted corrugated steel, but pipes and ducts can be seen, barrier free connected. An exhibition and coffee shop concludes this and the feeling that all this architectural beauty and the money spend should have led to a library in Tuen Mun or at least contribute to my daily shrubs.
There are some bigger niggles, however. It’s not connected. To nothing. Neither she shit going in, nor the electricity going out.
Shit is brought in by diesel-powered trucks and electricity is burned away by lighting up the arguably beautiful facade overlooking Shenzehn bay and to be seen (smog permitting) by people on the mainland, marveling on the spectacle of shit lit up.
Money dow the toilet…
I wish for the green hoarding to be put up again for reality in Hong Kong is too bleak.
Still, Hong Kong can be idiotic and wasteful on un-hoardable levels: the bridge to Macau. Well, Zhuhai first. To drive into mainland China one need to have the approval from the Guangdong Public security bureau. One need to have a Chinese license and a China and Hong Kong registered and approved vehicle (no motorbike). And money (According to the current regulation, a qualified applicant has to invest US$400,000 in a business entity in rural Guangdong and pay an annual tax of 1500,000 yuan (HK$184,863). Or the applicant needs to invest US$1 million in a business entity in urban Guangdong, and pay an annual tax of 300,000 yuan, said the report. See here SCMP). Hong Kong has 25.000 cars with dual number plates. Guangdong has another 25.000 cars with dual number plates. That is 50.000 cars that can drive on the new bridge. The MTR train service carries 75.000 people on one of its 9 main lines within an hour. It should have been the train on the bridge, not Hong Kong’s tycoons.
Hong Kong is a small place. In my vision, a green hoarding should be erected around the entire territory until it is handed completely to China…