Love nature – in a shopping mall

Hong Kong is THE place for eating and shopping. In fact, I don’t know a second place that has more restaurants and shopping malls on such a small space. For the latter, it’s not hard to find a reason. In a tropical climate with steaming heat  it’s just no fun walking through the streets. I much prefer a 20C, spotless clean shopping mall. I love Hong Kong’s nature, but not in a shopping mall. In the capitalist consumption temples I’m only longing for the newest gadgets and my Green Tea Skimmed Milk Latte. But yesterday was somewhat different…

My wife and I spend a lovely day in Saikun enjoying a beautiful scenery and fantastic seafood. On our way back, we stopped by a shopping mall in Shatin (New Town Plaza). Upon entering the shopping mall I saw the newest “theme”. Hong Kong shopping malls come up with a theme once in a while to differentiate themselves among the competition.  There is even an “art shopping mall” in Tsim Sha Tusi (K11). If you visit but don’t find the art worthwhile, then welcome to the club….

Back to the Shatin shopping mall. “Love Nature” I read on gigantic letters upon entering. A massive bug (made of plastic) sitting comfortably on a huge green leaf and a bunch of flowers was set up right in the atrium. There were around 20 to 25 persons taking photos. But that’s not unusual in Asia. People take at least 20 photos of basically everything.

Honestly, I haven’t come across a more stupid marketing approach. Well, I understand the sentence “Love nature”. But why should you be reminded to “love nature” in a cooled down concrete shopping block. It’s similar as talking about cycling and the environment while driving around in a Rolls Royce. In fact, I don’t want to be reminded of nature when walking through one of  the achievements of our civilization. All I want is air con, a Green Tea Latte and shopping.

Shopping malls have a hard time, particularly in Europe. They are blamed for the downturn of traditional, family owned shops in downtown city locations (as if it weren’t the customers who make their choice). In Hong Kong though, they’re still thriving and, alas, seem to be the normal living environment for the population.

And that’s a shame. Hong Kong has some truly fantastic places that are worth exploring. Yes, it’s unbearably hot outside. But the sceneries you will see are just breathtaking. If you think that Hong Kong is just a bunch of skyscrapers, metro lines, streets and shopping malls – think again. That’s true of the urban area. But far more than half of Hong Kong’s territory is nature. Places like Lantau, Lamma and the New Territories offer fantastic opportunities for nature lovers.

So if you really want to convince people of “love the nature” kick them out of the shopping mall. Drag them out of their apartments (a.k.a. concrete shoe box) and ferry them to Hong Kong’s nice spots where they can enjoy nature. But I doubt that’s in the interest of Hong Kong’s shopping mall owners. So why tell them “love nature”. Just create a theme “love shopping, enjoy aircon, spend your money”.

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