Thursday, February 08, 2007

Terrapin Station
As I've noted previously on probably too many occasions that in Hong Kong I essentially live in a shopping mall.

Called Telford Gardens (the "Gardens" description is sheer fiction, as there is more greenery in the produce section of its Park n Shop grocery store than in the complex itself) it's a soul-killing combo of 25-year old high rise apartments and shopping center. It's also comfortably numb as one could conceivably spend the rest of their life within its borders and never want for essentials.

A doctors' clinic (western and Chinese medicine), Chinese and western drug stores, a satellite college, primary and high school, dentist, post office, travel agencies, three banks, laundry, tacky gaudy jewelry stores, birds nest stores, opticians, book store, shoe repair, CD/DVD outlet, a neck ties-only store, the usual mall clothing/bling-bling chains, an Ikea, two 7-Elevens, one Circle K, Ruby Tuesday, McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, dim sum restaurants, etc ad nauseum world without end, amen, it's all here.

Also inside the mall -- like the rest of Hong Kong's ceaseless efforts to needlessly subsidize its bloated construction industry -- the tear down, build up clatter of jackhammers and drills virtually never ceases as businesses come and go and the mall owner (the Metro Transit Railway; it's also a subway stop) finds new ways to vacu-suck HK$ from shoppers and tenants.

These efforts frequently involve seasonal themes. In November-January it was a Disney Christmas, minus any Christs or Santas or even Mickey. Just large grotesque pastel displays of Assorted Disney Babes amid tinsel and plastic Christmas trees in a co-promotion with HK Disneyland and its attendant charm school, something called "The Academy of Princesses." Young, wealthy HK females ages 3-16 could sign up to learn western-style table manners and make-up skills for the equivalent of one year's college tuition. JonBenet Ramsey would've loved it, I thought.

This month it's become increasingly bizarre. Chinese New Year is looming (Year of the Pig) and the mall has been transformed into an approximation of a traditional Chinese village if it was constructed from gold colored foam and plastic by a schizophrenic. It comes complete with an "outdoor market" set-up with vendors selling overpriced New Year crapola from prefab stalls.

The irony is that an authentic outdoor market selling basically the same goods for about half the cost is only a 10 minute walk from the fake one. But it's not air conditioned, smells funny and there's no FCUK or U2 outlet two steps away.

Which is why I have come increasingly appreciate the Chinese sport of Turtle Gazing. The one natural attribute Telford Gardens sports outside the mall is a large artificial pond, complete with tasteful bridge, stocked with dozens of box turtles.

The terrapins and water are real, though the "rocks" they clamber on to stretch their wrinkled inscrutable heads towards the sun were probably originally the result of an industrial accident or a NASA byproduct.

Save rainy days, the pond is ringed with onlookers, old men and women in traditional padded cotton jackets with their hands clasped behind their backs, children in British-style school uniforms, Filipina "domestic helpers" as the underpaid, exploited nanny/maid wage slaves are termed here, with their young charges, couples -- mostly middle aged -- all watching the turtles do absolutely nothing except sun themselves.

Occasionally one or two will flop off of the rocks for a swim or try to slowly clamber up over its brethren already stacked like upside down plates in a gently sloping staircase arrangement.

It took me awhile to get it, but more often as I'm hustling to the ATM or the laundry I find myself stopping to do nothing but sit and watch the turtles do the same.
At least Telford has a Ruby Tuesdays! It takes us $45 just to get there by taxi.
Actually, I think the Telford Gardens sound kind of cool.
The clam is dark below the boulders hiding all

The sunlights good for us

From Terrapin

Seems to me that most everything in HK/SZ is kind of out af a Syd Barrett song.....
This comment has been removed by the author.
Many a foreign visiter has been enthralled by the Turtle Piles of Telford Gardens. My friends musta taken 2 dozen pictures of them when we stayed over.

Not to diss Justin's pad, but the worst part of the Gardens has always been, for me, the painfully small square-meterage of the actual living quarters, coupled with the Kong's ludicrously high rent rates.
I can imagine the blog in"Glad the sun is out again. Haven't been able to watch the tall ones lately because of the rain. They don't do much but stand around in small groups, some for long periods of time. I find it's relaxing to watch them sunning themselves on the bridge. But then I have to get back to the work of foraging in the pond...ah, well, the life of a turtle. Must be nice to be a tall one and just hang out in the sun."
Justin - you keep disappearing!

Were you eaten by one of the turtles?
The internet has been far less entertaining lately. Slow month in ol' Shenzhen?
Justin....nice to talk with you the other day. Miss your missives. You're probably lost in contemplation of the turtles. Don't crawl into your shell. Even though you're working for The Man now...the Feds, the Gov, Radio French America... keep us in touch with your Boulder Self.
you're a dope!
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