- Species: Hainan Elaeocarpus, Bull Bay, Flame Tree
- Location: Quarry Bay/Taikoo Shing, pathway between Berkshire House, One Island East, Taikoo Shing mall
The more you look, the more you see seems to be the right description for my recent encounters with the Hainan Elaeocarpus (elaeocarpus hainanensis 水石榕), whose name I have now learnt to spell without looking at the reference books. First there was the one tree in Central, which started the whole thing. Then they found me at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park, then outside Windsor House. Now I think I have discovered one of their hidden hideouts, located in plain sight out in Quarry Bay, complete with their own pack of animals as companions.
Just pass the row of Madagascar Almonds mentioned in the prior post, is a no less than a forest of mature Hainan Elaeocarpus trees (towards the end of their blooms now in early June). If you walk away from the highway and towards the towering One Island East, you will come across one after another of the distinct trees, with their perky upward pointing leaves (bell-like flowers if you are lucky), straight central cores and wide canopies.
It’s a really nice walk from the current Berkshire House (formerly DCH) to the large square adjacent One Island East. On the way, you’ll come across a pack of dogs greeting a friend, or perhaps their matriarch, forever in anticipation of recognition, hugs and kisses.
You might think it’s a bit surreal that a pack of dogs – perhaps they are really spirits – stands there, facing each other at eternal attention in the middle of a housing complex, but wait until you emerge on the other side of the courtyard intro the main
square of the skyscraper, where there us a disembodied horse’s head hovering above a water hole.
If you take a stroll around Taikoo Shing, one of the best examples of urban planning in Hong Kong and perhaps anywhere in the world (I’ll go into more on this at the end of this post), there’s much more to see.
There are these magnificent Bull Bay Magnolias (magnolia grandiflora 荷花玉蘭) with their bowl-sized flowers. They are blooming now (beginning of June) and their flowers don’t last too long, so you have to hurry to catch them while they are still there.
If you turn towards the main shopping mall that is Taikoo Shing, there is this glorious Flame Tree (delonix reglia 鳳凰木), also in bloom now, standing like a sentry over the main path.
Now back to why Taikoo Shing is one of my favourite examples of urban planning. At one time, I lived in Meifoo Sun Chuen, another ‘modern’ housing development, but on the Kowloon side. I was overwhelmed at the completeness, efficiency and liveability of the entire series of apartment blocks, which were all kind of interconnected, forming parts – like Lego blocks – of an intricate 3-D puzzle that fitted together into a coherent whole. What was even more impressive was the fact that there were all the amenities within a few minutes walk away.
There was the shopping mall that was integrated seamlessly into the urbanscape and served as a hub for entire community. There was the theatre for entertainment, multiple restaurants plus supermarkets and food vendors for sustenance, a Wing On for general goods, a gas station, and countless shops and businesses offering every kind of service imaginable that anyone would ever need.
Taikoo Shing is exactly the same, but newer, sleeker, with better shops, restaurants, even a skating rink… and yes, better trees. It is like you can take Taikoo Shing and teleport the entire thing to the middle of a desert, or to a remote island in the middle of the ocean, or to Mars for that matter, and everyone could simply go about their business without a care in the world. With Taikoo Shing, they even get a pack of dogs for company.