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Is Lantau still a nature destination for tourists?

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As Lantau’s summer season gets into gear, spare a thought for the mainland tourists who paid good money for a nature tour but got a gruelling shopping trip instead. Peter Sherwood reports.

Thank you for listening to this recording from Lively Lantau Nature and Involuntary Shopping Tours (and prepare for a surplus of exotic adjectives).

Welcome to Hong Kong. For just HK$49 we will take you to alluring Lantau Island, a country park where the government builds things like the illustrious airport, dazzling Disneyland, fortress prisons and convenient concrete steps on the pretty nature trails.

Lantau is a kaleidoscope of richly hued nature and has a resplendent big Buddha, some luxuriant green trees and an exciting cable car. At the top is a splendid monastery, which displays vibrant gold Buddhas and a mammoth bronze Buddha because every city must have a ‘big’ something like the ‘big banana’ in Australia. The monastery is a silent order, although the millions of visitors are not particularly hushed.

Next stop, Tai O, a traditional fishing village – at least it was before 10 million people visited it and all the fish disappeared. Happily, the quaint village houses have been tastefully transformed into bewitching souvenir shops. Here we cordially invite you to buy as much useless tat as you can carry, while vividly imagining Lantau’s magnificent pink dolphins, which are almost extinct.

Continuing your tour, you will see more dedicated progress along a charming, white-sand beach, where our tireless government planners, who work endlessly to protect the environment and natural heritage, will soon construct a gargantuan incinerator in the middle of a wondrous marine park.

Gweilo spotting in DB

We then drive to the radiant city of Tung Chung and gently twist your arm to buy outrageously overpriced jewellery. If you spend an extraordinary amount at our relative’s shop we won’t just dump you there unceremoniously, we’ll continue merrily on to divine Discovery Bay. Here you will see many quaint, foreign people riding colourful bicycles and sitting relaxed in a glamorous place called a plaza, like in Paris and Rome.

Don’t worry, these people are not homeless, and if you pay attention you will see hundreds more disembark from the ferries and meet shiny new buses to take them to their gargantuan apartments – to watch the fireworks at Disneyland.

The exquisite Mickey Mouse theme park is just across the water on what used to be another beautiful bay until the government reclaimed it for Disney to entertain millions of you delightful visitors from China. We could take you there, but it’s ludicrously expensive and not on your splendid journey of discovery. Well, what do you expect for HK$49? By the way, the cost of the tour does not cover your ferry fare back to Central. Goodbye and good luck.

Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for 17 years. The former head of an international public relations firm, Peter is the author of 15 books and he has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.


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