Friday, 20 April 2012

Sun Hung Kai's Sixth Wonder of the World

Anyone in need of a bit of a pick-me-up could do worse than take a butcher’s at Sun Hung Kai’s corporate non-glossy (it’s printed on that expensive and smelly environment-friendly paper) magazine SHKP Quarterly, which landed on my desk with a thud and a whiff this morning.

The reader will be energised by a spread featuring the Brothers Kwok’s latest development on the island of Ma Wan, which lies in the silty waters between Lantau Island and the Tuen Mun Road in the shadows of the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Not according to the recent press release issued by the company it doesn’t, ’though. According to the spiel, the development, called AnaCapri, is “surrounded by a boundless view of the ocean”, which is a rather far-fetched way of describing the Ma Wan Channel, especially for those of us who have been brought up to believe that an ocean is, as the Oxford Dictionary puts it, a very large expanse of sea”.

Now the original Anacapri is a commune rising high (that’s what the ‘ana’ bit means) on Capri, the island off Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is a lot bigger than the Ma Wan Channel but doesn’t have a Mr Victor Lui, Executive Director of SHK Real Estate Agency, to big it up.

Victor obviously thinks very highly of the development – that, or he hasn’t been on a site visit – as he gushes, “AnaCapri is situated at a premium location on the peninsula, facing the Tsing Ma Bridge, Ting Kau Bridge and the magnificent views of the Anglers’ Beach in Sham Tseng, which highlight the indescribable grandiosity of the supreme residential project.”

On the other hand, maybe he’s just been on the wacky backy,as you’ll have to do some serious neck-craning or climb onto the roof to catch a glimpse of the Ting Kau Bridge, which is far enough away, anyway, to be shrouded in pollution on rainless days when Guangdong’s gunge is being blown down the Pearl River Estuary.

Not that you have to climb as many floors as in most Hong Kong apartment blocks to get to that roof. Rather bizarrely, as well as there being no 4th floor – common in these parts, as the Cantonese for 4 sounds like death – there is also no 7th floor. Now, this got me really intrigued, as I’ve been 25 years in Hong Kong and have never come across a missing 7. For goodness’ sake, one of the most popular convenience stores around here is even called 7-Eleven. Just as well it’s not owned by Kwok Bros, or it’ll be renamed simply 11. 

Anyway, so intrigued was I that I asked my secretary to call the AnaCapri hotline and ask them about the missing seven. She was told that in Western culture, the number 7 is unlucky. Why, I thought, didn’t anyone tell those Jews to leave just six branches on their menorot or knock down one of the pillars on their house of wisdom, or the Pythagoreans to come up with another mystic number?

My secretary’s explanation, pithy ’though it was, was, I thought, rather more apposite: “Mainlanders don’t like 7, as the seventh month of the Chinese calendar is called Ghost Month”.

Ah, well, now we know. A sign of things to come, perhaps, as our cousins from across the border continue to bring their LV suitcases stashed full of dosh into the territory in their relentless drive to push property prices to new heights?

But I leave the best till last. Our friends at Sun Hung Kai have a poet in their midst. Unfortunately, they didn’t call upon his services when they stuck the following drivel on their website:

“Streets, hustle and bustle, after streets
In the metropolitan city, lies none of the quiet suites
Not until I found AnaCapri
The indulging place, away from the concrete
There, my life is fulfilled, with the abiding peace …”

Residents who can’t take any more of this needn’t worry; relief is just around the corner in the shape of Noah’s Ark in all its Young Earth glory. But the last laugh may well lie with the punters. In the same way that that glorious wheeled incarnation of the 1970s was quickly dubbed the Ford Crappy, Victor may soon find his jewel in the ocean known as AnaCrappy. 

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