Friday, 17 February 2017

subterranean blues, (reds, greens and yellows)

Although I’ve lived in Fanling for almost nine years, and although most of my bike rides go to the west, I know almost nothing about the part of town that lies west of the main railway line. In part, this ignorance is occasioned by geography. I live on the eastern outskirts of Fanling, but by following the Drainage Services Department (DSD) access road that runs alongside the Ng Tung River, I can avoid the need to pass through either Fanling or the adjacent town of Sheung Shui—the two were once separate, but they now form a single urban area—on my way west.

I used to cross the railway at a tunnel described in The Hill—most recreational cyclists go this way—but for more than two years I’ve been following a sequence of narrow paths and alleyways through a large squatter area on the edge of Sheung Shui (described in Journey to the West: Part 5). It’s longer this way, but more fun; in any case, ‘short cut’ is not a term with any currency in my cycling vocabulary. In both cases, I reach the DSD access roads around the Sheung Yue River catchment and barely touch the urban area. And I come back the same way.

Recently, however, as part of my attempts to extend ‘the long and winding road’, I found a different way back that took me into parts of the town with which I wasn’t familiar. I’ll not go into too much detail, but it took a long time to find a way home, and I didn’t think I could find that way again without a few false turns. Consequently, a couple of days ago, I decided to have a closer look at the cycle track network on the west side of Fanling. My starting point was the cycle track that comes into Fanling from the south, although this was coincidental—I’d come off my my bike a few days before Christmas when trying an alternative to the cycle track, and I wanted to get a photo of the location of this mishap for use in a future blog post.

Just before this cycle track reaches Fanling, there is a possible turn onto a bridge over the expressway, and I’d often wondered where it led. Now was the time to find out. Once back at ground level, I found a cycle track that led north, which I decided to follow. And it wasn’t long before I came to an underpass:

This winter, I’ve done some cycling around other towns in the New Territories—Taipo, Shatin and Ma On Shan—and I’ve noted how often subways and underpasses have been brightened up by the use of coloured tiles. I had planned to do a feature on this at some time—I probably will—but in the meantime here is what I found on this occasion. This is the other side of this underpass:

Notice that the two sides are not identical. And neither are the two sides of the next underpass, which is less than 100 metres further on:

Naturally, I was delighted to find these two underpasses, because one reason for trying to find a south-to-north route through the west side of town was to see whether I could find again a subway that I’d come across in my recent ‘lost’ meanderings. I could:

In this case, the entrance to the subway on the other side is identical. Here, I’ve included the internal walls of the subway, from both ends, because I think that these rectangular blocks of colour capture movement so well. Notice that the designs on each side are identical, but the colours are different.

The next two photos are of a T-junction on the cycle track:

The ‘tree’ motif is repeated without variation on the walls of all three legs of the T.

All the previous locations can be found in sequence, but the final subway is located on a side turning that I only just noticed as I was riding past. This cycle track doesn’t actually go anywhere. It comes to an end at the top of the exit ramp! And the walls of the entry ramp are so uninteresting that I had to photograph this stairway to illustrate the colour scheme:

But just look at the walls of the subway itself:

One final comment: none of the subways on my side of the tracks are even remotely as interesting. I wonder why.

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