25/03/2007

THE HOLE IN FENG SHUI

The Chinese have this belief in "Feng Shui", translated as "wind and water", where the arrangement of a room, building or even city, is planned in a way to promote harmony with the environment.

Feng Shui is as important to town planning in China as plumbing, as I found on a recent visit to Hong Kong. I was at Repulse Bay, one of the glitziest seaside suberbs of Hong Kong and a strip of coast where the British once fought Chinese pirates. The buildings lining Repulse Bay are lavish. Space is at a premium, which is why I was surprised to see this gaping hole in one of the major apartment blocks there (see picture below).

I asked my Chinese guide about this, he told me that the local residents believe a dragon lives on the mountain behind the apartment block. In China, dragons are a good thing, a protective force, good karma, whatever you like. They need to be protected and aided. The residents were worried that the proximity of the fire-breathing dragon would pose a fire risk. They didn't want the dragon going through their building on its way down the mountain and inadvertantly setting the place on fire. So they had the developer allow for a big hole to be left in the building, one which the dragon could pass through. That's why a prime piece of real estate property in one of Hong Kong's most expensive suberbs has a gaping hole in it. I bet that hole is worth millions, but I like it and we could all use a little Feng Shui...

Some more photos from my trip to China:

The sweeping boulevard at the centre of technology firm Huawei's Shenzhen campus.


The famous Jumbo floating restaurant in Hong Kong harbour, fantastic Chinese cuisine...


Some Hong Kong school girls...the one to the front is like the girl out of The Grudge.

Paul Clearwater (left) and I dealing with some jetlag at the Shangri-La, Sydney


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