Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wing Lee Street (永利街)

Wing Lee Street has become the most famous street in Hong Kong, thanks to the movie Echoes of the Rainbow (歲月神偷). I have not seen the movie. Not that I don’t want to, I just haven’t got the time yet. But I have been to Wing Lee Street with my wife.

The street brings back a lot of memories. There are other buildings elsewhere in Hong Kong of similar age and style. What is remarkable here is that the whole street has not been rebuilt - yet.

Even though it is surrounded by high rises from all sides.

There is even an old market that is now used for recreation.

Hong Kong is probably unique in that it can afford to do much much more to conserve and preserve its buildings, streets, and the associated culture - but does not.

Most great cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Kyoto, etc. are doing great jobs in conservation. Some buildings have been there hundreds or even thousands of year. They look old, and yet they are still functional. Even Chinese cities such as Beijing, Xian, Nanjing, etc. are trying hard to catch up. Poorer cities cannot afford it. Hong Kong certainly can, but does not.

The logic of our government is impeccable. (1) Most buildings are too young to worth preserving. So nothing is done for them. (2) By the time the buildings are old enough, they have deteriorated to such a dilapidated state that they simply cannot be preserved. Either way, nothing can be done. So nothing is done. Isn’t it beautiful logic? Listen to our officials. If they are not using argument (1), then it is (2). Without fail.


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