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Alleys and Ailing

R0014919L (Camera: Ricoh GX200; a stall at the corner of an alley going through the old buildings in Kwun Tong)

Kwun Tong is strewn thick with old shops and dilapidated buildings which breathe into the place its genius loci -- the spirit of the place. The revitalisation project will squarely strip them off the surface. Replacing such oldies which the Government believes to have made an unsightly cityscape will be yet another omnipresent shopping mall or malls. What a brainless bowdlerising way of "revitalising" a place! Sadly, commercially viability has probably become the overriding consideration in urban revitalisation.

Compared to the mammoth well-lit, air-conditioned shopping malls, the unkempt alleys which adventurously radiate from one point to another and another through the old buildings offer an unparalleled experience for no matter shopping, observing the local ways of life or taking photographs. Whether the neighbourhood stalls lining those alleys are open for business or close for an afternoon respite, the dim narrow alleys are exactly where visitors can observe the minutiae of human behaviours and local culture. 

The idiocies of the officials in implementing urban revitalisation projects are and will continue to be very persistent unless the property market crumbles again. It happened after the Asian financial crisis when Hong Kong people became more aware of the heritage or anything that had lasted in the territory. Human are stubborn, sometimes too silly to be corrected. So, Hong Kong is going to have another cold, dead shopping mall in place of the uniquely atmospheric old Kwun Tong. What is to be revitalised really?

Commercial viability, you bet.


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