The Wild Reclaimed

West Kowloon

Tourists usually head to the Avenue of Stars to get their fix of Hong Kong’s famous skyline. But there’s an infinitely more rewarding alternative just a couple of kilometres to the west. Well off the sightseer’s radar and overlooked even by most locals, the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade offers an incomparable 360-degree view of Victoria Harbour and the dizzying skyscrapers that flank it.

In a way, West Kowloon is the culmination of a hundred-year trend in Hong Kong history: land reclamation. Much of the modern-day city is built on soil dumped into the harbour, but none of the past landfill projects compare to the vast scale of West Kowloon, which replaced several square kilometres of water with highways, railroads, malls, offices and apartment towers. There’s so much new land, in fact, that people are still trying to figure out what to do with all of it. That’s why, for the time being at least, a large swath of it remains vacant and undeveloped.

Nature has already made its introduction and much of the vacant land is covered in small trees and craggy brush. With waves crashing on one side and the hissing of cicadas on the other, the West Kowloon waterfront feels like an obscure bit of country shoreline — except for that panoramic view of Hong Kong’s glossy skyline, of course.

Set against a backdrop of fishing boats and container barges, a promenade along the water’s edge features concrete space for bicycle and skateboard tricks. In the soft evening light, amourous couples look out over the water and joggers make their way down the wooden boardwalk. Just beyond the waterside railing, fishers gaze at passing ships as they wait for a catch.

The lawns next to the boardwalk are speckled with tiny seashells washed up by storm surges. In fact, this is one of the only places in central Hong Kong where you can actually have a picnic on real grass, and with a view of the skyline to boot. Several years from now, though, when West Kowloon is finally developed with a high-speed rail terminus, museums and performing arts centres, this idyllic bit of in-town countryside will disappear forever.

West Kowloon

West Kowloon

West Kowloon

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Tuesday October 13 2009at 06:10 pm , filed under Asia Pacific, Public Space and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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