Place making

I never get tired of HongKong. There is always something new to see. And even the places that you have seen and been before never fail to excite me again.Let me try to explain why, and you have to kow that I am writing from a Singaporean point of view, comparing just HongKong and Singapore.

They have a street for almost anything, ie they have whole streets selling the same stuff. There is a 'Flower Street'(selling flowers), a 'Ladies Street'(selling knick knacks and cutsey stuff), a 'Hollywood Street'(selling antiques), a 'Bird Street'(selling birds ands cages), a 'Shanghai Street' selling kitchen ware, etc. There is such a feeling of authencity as you weave through the stalls, and as you look up, you see the really old and dirty facades that is so trademark of HK. I felt like a Chinese again. I cannot imagine walking through Singapore's Chinatown and having the same feelings. The stalls are too new, they sell tourists stuff and when I look up, I see the shophouses covered in rainbow coloured paint. So silly! Ironically I feel like a tourist and strangely I dont feel like a belong to this place. And when I look further at the so called 'old' old HDB flats, they somehow feel characterless, neither here nor there.

What is interesting about HK is that such streets can be found in the city, and allowed to spillover outside the boundaries of their shops. In terms of shopfront appearance most of them are old and have never been renovated for the longest time. Now if this was Singapore, this will never be allowed in the city for fear of cleanliness issues, hygiene, image, blah blah blah.

However it is the very fact that such places are little 'dirty' that makes it so authentic. What I mean is that such places should be allowed to grow by themselves in an organic manner(with minimum intervention), and not overly controlled. We dont have to make the place, let the place make itself. Why do you 'destroy' something that took years to achieve by covering up in fresh paint? Let the moss grow.

I later found out that such streets evolved historically as the business owners came together on their own to create synergies off each other and provide a convenient one stop shopping concept for the consumer. Now besides Singapore's 'lighting street' (Balestier Road) , I cant really think of anywhere else like that in Singapore. Where do I go if I want to buy kitchen ware, and where do I go if I want to buy flowers? Arab street dont count because the textile shops are being taken over by an oversealous drive to turn it into a tourist cultural thingy. (once again, over control) Let the people come on their own! That is the true attractiveness of a place.

And the neon my my...They are obviously a by product of commercialism, but they have become the instant identity of Hong Kong. The streets are filled with neon signs hanging over the roads. Once again this has demonstarted the organic growth of a metropolis. It is almost a spectacle by itself and a sight to behold especially when the city comes alive at night. Now doesnt that feel like a shopping paradise?

Singapore is devoid of such spectacle because the historical reason (from what I know) is that it would be too distracting to drivers. Duh. Sometimes when you consider too many things, you miss out. God knows how many more tourists we could have attracted if we could have let this law go. It is too late anyway, Hong Kong and Tokyo are way ahead now.


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