MAKING OF A METROPOLIS

Posted in : Lantau Supplement, Life On Lantau Articles on by : Around DB , , Comments: 0

REPORTING BY Martin Lerigo PHOTOS BY Terry Chow

It was just 24 years ago that first ground was broken in the opening chapter of Tung Chung’s amazing transformation. Phase 1 and 2 of North Lantau New Town were complete by 1997, in time for the opening of the new Hong Kong International Airport. Built to the north, on reclaimed land at Chep Lap Kok, the airport is a prize-winning feat of modern engineering.
A population of just 20,000 at that time has mushroomed to around 98,000, while the planned population is 124,000. Upon completion of the proposed Tung Chung New Town Extension, the total population of Tung Chung will increase to around 270,000.

Older folk, who have watched the canvas change from calm and uncluttered in their childhood to the Pollockesque kaleidoscope of today, must marvel at how it has all been possible in such a short space of time. The majestic Lantau and Sunset peaks now cast their shadows across a valley floor that once knew only small stilted shacks, long since replaced by Goliathan tablets of concrete and steel.

All of this development is not without controversy of course. The government is billing Tung Chung as Hong Kong’s gateway to the Pearl River Delta, a centre for service and logistics that will help build centres of excellence for Asia’s world city. Some parts of the community welcome development on Lantau North and see it as a means to boost economic growth and prosperity. Others see many of the projects as a sop to the developers – white elephants that are not worth the money and are not in the interests of all Hong Kongers.

As it stands, Tung Chung is a study of contrasts, old and new. While massive, modern housing developments and gleaming malls predominate, you don’t have to look far to find old-style village houses, dai pai dongs and ancient temples.

Tung Chung Fort is a seldom visited and rather lonely relic of the town’s rich past. The fort dates from the 12th century Southern Song Dynasty. Its six remaining cast-iron cannons point directly at leviathan Yat Tung Estate, which towers in the distance, testament to the amazing change development has brought to Tung Chung.

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