Tuesday, January 20, 2015

River City

A year ago I was in Hong Kong and the city was awash in Lunar New Year preparations. Crowded with shoppers, many of whom made commando-raids from the Mainland, stuffing their wheeled suitcases full of chocolates and butter cookies, most of the streets on both sides of the harbor were almost unwalkable. So I often left after breakfast and went to a much smaller city with a much slower pace.

This is Shatin. No, it's not very sophisticated. I like that.

And it's built along a river, which may account for its pace.

It's the sort of city where you can always find a place to sit.

The public art is exuberant,

and there are egrets. On my first visit there, I came in late afternoon and the riverside trees were filled with them.

But this is what draws me back to Shatin, even more than the river or the wonderful historical museum that I always visit. I caught a glimpse of an old mansion, peering from the trees across the river, silhouetted against the hills.

When I drew closer to it, I saw this.

It is in the middle of a large yard, and is surrounded by a fence. Construction is underway nearby, with makeshift houses for the workers.

This is the lane that runs past it.

Every year, I'm afraid it will be gone, replaced by something like this, that exists in newer communities like Lohas Park,

But so far it still beckons to me each time I go to the river,

with this rising behind it.

It is always a fulfilled promise, each time I go to Shatin.