A district in Hong Kong called Shatin made international news last weekend during the ongoing demonstrations. When I first saw what was going on in Shatin, I couldn’t believe it.
Shatin was a sleepy fishing town before the 1980s when the government constructed what they call a new town. Self-contained with a town hall, marriage registry, public library, post office, and auditorium, plus of course a maze of shopping malls that connect to one another, it was a city within a city. I almost rented a pink apartment in Shatin in 1996, but my then-husband preferred something more updated. I’ve always wondered what if!
My history in Shatin goes back to 1990 when I arrived in Hong Kong. It wasn’t the bright lights big city I pictured when I decided to study in Hong Kong. But more than any other part of the territory, it became home, apart from the university where I lived and studied for three years.
I must have wandered the malls there at least every week for five years. The main part of the mall is where the demonstrations ended up last weekend, but the area spans much more than that. There used to be a floating restaurant in Shatin, and now there is a stone replica where I used to go for dim sum with friends and when family came in from the US.
The restaurants in the mall were good and offered noodle stalls, food courts, and white tablecloth fine dining. I loved it all.
I even got married in Shatin once upon a time.
The mall is now posh and unrecognizable, but it’s still the center of Shatin.
There’s a Snoopy play area outside now, so it’s also more commercial than it was in the 90s.
I’m not sure when Hong Kong will ever go back to normal. I’m not sure if it will ever be the same again. I hope those of us who love Hong Kong can preserve it in our writings and photos so it will remain in our hearts long after it ceases to exist.
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