A Mirage in the Shopping District. A Shopping Dry Dock. The # City.
22.03.2012 24 °C
One day during a lazy weekend, I surfed idly on YouTube, and came across a video showing the top 10 strange sights as seen by Google satellite (serendipity is my favourite mate). While the other 9 are odd enough sights, but 1 in particularly made me sit up and pursued it further. This is because it’s unlikely I’ll ever have the chance to see the other 9 oddities in real life. This one, however, quite probably.
didn’t expect the top 10 weird sights would include anything remotely in HK. They're so small, they don’t make into top 10 of anything. There it was, staring me in the face. It was an aerial view of what looks like a cruise ship in the east of Kowloon mostly residential area Hung Hom, surrounded by residential high-rises with building plans in the shapes of '#' sign (it would reflect HK's property values to be the highest in Asia better if their plans are shaped like '$' sign) . The ship spans 4 apartment blocks, measured about 100m, and is located a few kilometres from the water’s edge. Some questions sprung to to mind, "What's that damn ship doing stranded in the middle of town? Is the ship for sale? Is this what they called a dry dock? Is that Li Ka-Shing's private yacht?" (Li Ka-Shing is the HK property tycoon, and the richest man in HK).
My mind raced for answers. One possibility is that this cruise ship was used to be on a dry dock on the water’s edge, but land reclamation had extended the land outwards from there. Not possible?
Land reclamation maybe unfamiliar to folks who live in large country with relatively small population. For examples, USA or Australia. Land reclamation isn’t a term that’s bantered around in dinner conversation. But in HK, that’s a fact of life. In the neighbouring Macao (could be reached from HK in less than an hour by ferry), its land mass had more than doubled through this process of land filling. Sheldon Edelson was part of that. In fact, when the idea of land filling (not landfill) was proposed to him to solve the problem of putting his mammoth casino The Venetians onto this tiny island, he thought they were joking. He had never heard of such a thing. And like Donald Trump, he’s essentially a property developer! In fact, reclamation was the only feasible solution for him. The Venetians now sits comfortably on artificial land. Indeed, reclamation is also part of Singapore property development landscape (pun intended) since the 1960s.
So you see that my idea about the original location of the cruise ship wasn’t really so outlandish (pun intended).
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to HK. I don't think there's many places of interests that I haven't laid my fingers on (ok, left my footprints on), at least, that I haven't heard of. And how could they hide something as big as a cruise ship in such a small place from the public? And I’m the public. And tourist. Would that be something they should tell a tourist? I’ve never seen anything in the tourist literature. And I accumulated a shoe box of it.
I dug a little deeper, the “cruise ship” turns out to be a shopping mall. This may explain that I had never seen it in travel literature because it's buried in the shopping section that I never look at, maybe . Well, the mystery was solved and gone. It may have killed my curiosity cat, but it didn’t kill my kid’s heart. If the span of decades of time didn’t slay it, a few facts and figures aren’t going to do the job. I’m lucky that way.
I promised myself that if – no, when - I visit HK again, I’m going to have a street view of this shopping mall that resembles a landlocked cruise ship from the air. I resisted myself to have a street view glimpse in Google map (since this isn't a middle of nowhere, but fairly close to downtown Kowloon, you can expect that the Google Car would be there taking street view photos). I’ll enjoy myself more when I see it face to face for the 1st time.
And voila, 3 months after viewing the YouTube, I was back in HK once again. Here I'm (if I don't keep my own promise, who will?).
I did some research on the net on how to get there, and the info I got was to catch a RBM bus 8A from Star Ferry Terminal. It takes about 20 mins, and the fares is HK $3.70.
I didn't follow that advice. Because we were happened to be very close by to the East Tsim-Sha-Tsui MTR station. We took the metro train and got off at Hung Hom Station to take the RBM bus 8A, and then got off at Whampoa Gardens stop. You won't have to worry that you'll get off at the wrong stop because it happens to be a terminus.
There're enough signage posted at every corner. When in doubt just ask people where the Whampoa is. I'm sure they all know it.
This signpost at one of the street corner shows that the Whampoa Gardens are made up of several districts or areas. This wikipedia map shows the enlarged view of the map at the bottom of this signpost (it also include the location of the bus terminus).
Walked around the different areas within the Whampoa Gardens, slowly a picture was emerged. The different areas are specialised in different merchandise, and has different themes.
You could say that these are shopping theme parks. Why
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