Friday, 30 September 2011

owt fresh?

Home, home again.
I like to be here when I can.

Pink Floyd, Breathe.
I arrived back in Hong Kong yesterday after one of the most tedious journeys from the UK that I’ve ever experienced. Because of typhoon activity in Hong Kong, I had to endure an enforced six-hour delay in Doha, resulting in my MP3 player running out of power several hours before the end of the journey. Of course, I could have charged it up again in Doha, except that all my power cables were in my checked-in luggage.

Anyway, I’m back, and as usual Paula tested my powers of observation by asking me what had changed while I’d been away. Things are always changing in Hong Kong, and something is certain to have been either added to or removed from the landscape during an absence of four months. The title of this post, Cumbrian dialect for ‘Anything new?’, is a query that was asked by my father, more in hope than expectation, every time I saw him. It seems appropriate here.

With reference to Hong Kong Country, the cultivated area in the third picture has been fenced off and abandoned, as have most of the plots where vegetables were being grown six months ago. Uncle Four (Turf Wars) and his lackeys have clearly been busy. Even more strangely, the house that was once the home of Lee Ming Sang (the fifth picture in Hong Kong Country) has completely vanished.

However, easily the most depressing change that has occurred during my absence has been the appearance of street lighting along the riverside. At first glance, this seems to tick all the appropriate environmental boxes—each light is powered by its own photovoltaic cell, and illumination is provided by LEDs—but what is not obvious from the photograph is that this lighting is unnecessary.


The curious aspect of this affair is that the track in the picture is, in theory, not open to members of the public. As the sign in the foreground points out:
Drainage Maintenance Access
No Entry
Despite this prohibition, the track is very popular with cyclists, joggers and even strollers, and is an excellent example of different government departments not knowing what other departments are doing. The track was built originally by the Drainage Services Department, but a couple of years ago the Home Affairs Department decided to build covered seating areas every mile or so, presumably without being aware that the hundreds of locals who used the track every day were trespassing.

And there is so much ambient light along this track at night that a hand torch is not required, although this doesn’t deter some people from using one. And these new lights are only ten metres apart, so ‘unsightly’ is an understatement. I would like to know which idiot came up with this idea, which must have been extremely expensive to implement and which provides no obvious benefits.

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