Buying a Fantasy
First published: 14th October 2010
A new Hong Kong property development, called Larvotto, was heavily marketed at the beginning of this year. Not an unusual occurrence in Hong Kong, where land is in short supply and luxury developments are in high demand by Mainland millionaires. The posters show three shimmering towers standing on their own green island set in a wide, sparkling blue sea dotted with a few luxury yachts. As a person who does not carry his wallet in a wheelbarrow (or employ a team of wheelbarrowers to do it for me), I merely looked enviously at the bus-shelter posters and walked on.
It was much later that I realised where this idyllic development was: just across Aberdeen harbour on Ap Lei Chau (literally: Duck Tongue Island). The promotional image is misleading in its accuracy. Yes, Larvotto is on a small island, which it shares with several large residential estates, the eponymous Ap Lei Chau, Lei Tung, and South Horizons, and a small industrial area, making it the third most-densely populated island in the world - before the completion of Larvotto. Yes, it has water in front of it, but Aberdeen Harbour is not the width of the Pearl River delta. Yes, it overlooks luxury boat moorings, but, with both the Aberdeen Boat Club and the Aberdeen Marina Club, the water is not so much dotted as carpeted with boats - and predominately less-romantic motor cruisers, not the graceful sails of yachts. Add the Jumbo and Tai Pak Floating Restaurants, and the Marine Police Headquarters, and you will not see much sparkling blue water.
As the opposite side of the harbour is a short walk from my office, I took a few photos for you to compare yourself.