Saturday, April 2, 2011

Closed (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

"I don't want to go to China," a friend of mine declared to me. "But you're already in China!" I retorted -- since our conversation was taking place in Hong Kong. "Oh, you know what I mean," she said -- and in fact, I do. Because even while the Big Lychee was handed (back) over to China by its British colonial masters on 1st July, 1997, it still doesn't feel completely like or part of China by virtue of officially being a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

Among the indicators that Hong Kong and Mainland China continue to be distinct entities is the continued existence of a designated border between the two territories and, over on the Hong Kong side, an official Frontier Closed Area running along much of it. And while much of this Frontier Closed Area refers to sections of land, there's a part of it -- Sha Tau Kok Hoi (AKA Starling Inlet) -- that covers a body of water.

Consequently, one has the interesting experience when walking on the edge of Sha Tau Kok Hoi of being legally entitled to do that but not dip one's toes into the nearby water. Adding to the interesting experience is the fact that the Hong Kong side of this borderland is far quieter and less developed than that of the Mainland. Put another way, the closed nature of this frontier area has turned this part of Asia's World City into sleepy -- some might even say generally dead -- space as far as most of the territory's human residents are concerned.

For hikers, birdwatchers and shutterbugs though, this part of Hong Kong can be quite the idyllic delight to visit. Just remember if you head over to not step into the water since, if you're caught doing so by the authorities, the maximum punishment is HK$5,000 and two years in prison! And should you forget, there are signs (like the one at the top of this Photo Hunt entry) reminding you of precisely that!! ;O


gengen said...

Nice choice for the theme. Happy hunting. Mine is up.

jmb said...

What an amazing situation. But the wildlife is happy to be undisturbed as you say and we can see in your photo.

Happy weekend YTSL.

magiceye said...

:) that sure is very interesting!

ancient one said...

not even a toe in the water? this is very interesting. I learn something new every day. Perfect for the theme.

Liz said...

I agree with jmb. Nice photos.

Have a fabulous weekend!


Anneke (Mudhooks) said...

I always learn something new when you post!

Unknown said...

this is another great post, and great info, too. i didn't know there's a area separating HK from China.:p


YTSL said...

Hi gengen --

Thanks and happy hunting to you too.

Hi jmb --

Put another way: Economic loss, ecological gain. And happy weekend to you too. :)

Hi magiceye --

Glad you found the post of interest. :)

Hi ancient one --

Not unless you get a permit from the authorities!

Hi Liz --

Thanks and happy weekend to you as well. :)

Hi Anneke --

What a nice compliment that is! :)

Hi Luna Miranda -- be precise, Hong Kong from the rest of China! ;b

healingmagichands said...

Well chosen for the theme! It is so interesting how regulations work! Don't just not drink the water, don't touch it!!

Julie said...

Interesting place to visit. I wonder how those who want to do what they're not supposed to will behave there :D

sarah bailey knight said...

hi ytsl,

Cool photos and a great take on the theme.

Were the birds fined or are they from the Mainland ;-)

eastcoastlife said...

What!! $5000 fine for dipping my toes in the restricted water!! @_@

Anonymous said...

Great shots for this week's theme. It must seem like an odd existence - part of China but not. I imagien that soem are comforted by that closed border.

Have a good weekend.

Susan Demeter said...

Great pics! But what a hefty fine and 2 years in prison yikes!

LifeRamblings said...

wow, one step on the water will cost you big time?? the punishment seems too harsh.

Re the Holy door, i too wonder what is behind the door, and why is it kept closed for that long. All I can say is that the Holy door seems very Biblical! The concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. i'm not sure how true this is but traditional Catholics believe that passage through the door brings them closer to eternal life.

Carver said...

Great idea for the theme and such a bizarre situation. I guess the penalties would be enough to deter most people.

I remember when my brother and I were in Dover when we spent a summer in England, there was an area that was closed (I think having something to do with the military and possibly remnants of bombs from WWII). A big sign said not to go any further and it further said do not touch anything as it may kill you.

We were teenagers and it was really hard not to sneak in and touch something to see what happened. I fear when I was young that I would have had the same desire to dip my toes in the water where you area. I think I still have a photo of the sign in Dover that we took. Your post made me think I should have found it and used it for this theme but I didn't even think of it.

Trekcapri said...

Hi YTSL, wonderful photos (the contrast and perspective in your last photo is pretty cool)and such an interesting take on this week's theme. I would definitely be obeying the signs and keeping my toes out of the water here, no matter how tempted they get. :)

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

wow that is quite an education. i always wondered if hongkongese felt more chinese than being hongkongese. thanks.

YTSL said...

Hi healingmagichands --

Heheh -- yes, indeed, don't touch as well sa go in and/or drink! :b

Hi Julie --

Hmmm, I wonder if this post will actually be discovered by rebellious people who will then make a beeline to the place...! :D

Hi sbk --

Actually, don't think Mainland people as well as those from the Hong Kong side are allowed in that closed area. Birds, OTOH, do seem free to roam there... ;b

Hi EastCoastLife --

Yes, well... and your home city of Singapore being a fine city, I'm sure you'd understand and obey such injunctions! ;D

Hi JDeQ --

Part of China but not part of the mainland. And yeah, it seems something many people find hard to grasp -- as it is, have had to point out too many times to people who want to send me snail mail items that they shouldn't muddy the waters by writing "Hong Kong, China". Instead, just "Hong Kong" with nothing after it will do! :D

Hi Sue --

Well, it's HK$5,000 -- so considerably fewer Canadian, US, Singaporean, etc. dollars, actually! ;b

Hi Life Ramblings --

Think of one step into the water as being one step into an officially designated closed area.

And re the holy door featured on your blog: hmmm... will try to do more research on my own re it then!

Hi Carver --

Yikes re your rebellious/daring inclination when young! My suspicion re that sign in Dover would be that that area had some unexploded World War Two-era bombs or something similar there!! :O

Hi Trekcapri --

You are good -- or, at least, law abiding in nature -- unlike quite a few other Photo Hunters it seems! ;b

Hi ewok1993 --

First, it's Hong Konger, not Hongkongese. And I think a lot of Hong Kong residents would identify themselves as Hong Kongers, others as Hong Kong Chinese and only a few as outright/solely Chinese. Hope that answers your query! :)

Gattina said...

What an interesting post ! I learned something new !

YTSL said...

Hi Gattina --

Glad my post taught you something knew! :b

HelpXtra said...

I wish that there were no 'CLOSED' areas for hikers.
There are so many parts of the world I would like to explore but because of wars and conflicts this is becoming more problematical.

bonggamom said...

Great post to accompany the photo!

My 'Closed' post

Sandra said...

Again I have learned something new! Great capture for this week and so informative too. I wonder, does anyone ever get caught? Happy weekend!

YTSL said...

Hi gitwizard --

Wouldn't it be nice (too) if there were no such thing as national borders? Imagine... (a la John Lennon)

Hi Bonggamom --

But... but... the photo(s) are part of the post!!! ;b

Hi Sandra --

Just this Friday, there was a news item about lots of illegal immigrants from Mainland China to Hong Kong getting caught in the closed border area -- particularly near Lok Ma Chau! So the answer to your question is a definite yes! :)

annie said...

Very interesting take on the theme. That third photo shows such a unigue landscape.

YTSL said...

Hi Annie --

Re that 3rd photo: I guess it's just me who reckons the vegetation in the foreground resembles a Sphinx -- otherwise someone else would have mentioned it by now, right? ;S