Monday, 3 June 2013

Clinging to Childish Pleasures

The giant Rubber Duck hanging out in Victoria Harbour delighting fans
Yesterday on the Peak, YTSL and I could clearly see the duck, though it's anchored at its spot and doesn't move. We could even see the outdoor exhibition called INFLATION! by Mobile M+ featuring a life-size inflated version of Stonehenge, a giant Chinese-style roast pork and some giant dark brown poo by Paul McCarthy. I hear he's a renowned artist, but giant turds?

Even a shopping mall -- Harbour City to be exact -- came up with an even better piece of inflatable art -- Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman's giant Rubber Duck.

This bird beat a bunch of poo hands down.
Taking pictures with smaller ducks nearby

The big yellow duck bobbing in front of Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui has been an endless source of entertainment for Hong Kong people in the past month. First there was lots of anticipation about the 16.5-metre tall inflated duck's arrival and then when it did come, pulled by a tugboat from Tsing Yi, the toy duck was headline news. People even took time off work to see it.

Really? It's just a duck.

But then it mysteriously started to deflate, falling on its side and the duck was then described as a fried egg or omelet floating on the water. The shopping mall claimed the bird was undergoing health checks, which made people wonder if it died from the air pollution or from mainlanders flicking their cigarette butts at it.

Finally over a week ago it was back in action and delighting crowds again.

A shot of the duck at Harbour City from the Star Ferry
After the hike on the Peak, I went home, showered and then was just in time to see the Rubber Duck at sunset. Going by Star Ferry was the best way to see the duck from the water, though there were still tons of people at dinnertime.

Young and old -- mostly young people were eager to have pictures with the duck on their phones and cameras, while the babies of enthusiastic parents didn't seem to have much interest in the giant inflatable duck.

I finally managed to get close to the duck and it does look better far away because it has "wrinkles" near its beak, wings and tail. Nevertheless, seeing it one can't help but smile because it seems to be smiling too.

Many locals believe the duck has been such a hit because of all the scandals plaguing the city at the moment, like the former ICAC chief caught with overspending for entertaining mainland officials, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration passively standing by as housing prices continue to rise, mainlanders continuing to display their worst tourist behaviour, and rising store rents closing decades-old family-run businesses.

The duck looks like it's smiling, no?
Is this a sign Hong Kong people are regressing to their childhoods for comfort? However the bigger question is -- while the Rubber Duck has brought temporary relief to locals, what's going to happen when it leaves us on June 9?

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