By and large, the mood on the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning is one of deep foreboding, verging on near-panic. The human conveyor belt transporting hundreds of Hong Kong’s clean-living, hard-working, disfranchised taxpayers into the central business district, long seen as the height of commuter comfort and convenience, has become the stairway to doom. The people glide down the slope, not mulling over their usual concerns like P/E ratios, IPOs or marketing plans, but gripped by the terror of what faces them at the bottom of the hill. The ‘electric ladder’ is carrying them unstoppably into a pit of killer rats.
However, not all of us share their fears. Wednesday’s horrifying attack in the unlovely little lane full of shoe-repairers off Peddar Street, in which a British woman was mauled to death by a swarm of vicious 10-inch rodents, has made headlines worldwide. In travel agencies around the globe, keyboards are clicking cancellations into reservations systems as holidaymakers come to their senses and decide to steer clear of the Big Lychee. Far better to chance it shopping in the smouldering ruins of Bangkok, bathing in the venomous jellyfish-infested waters of Bondi beach, or posing for photos on the lip of a bubbling volcano in Iceland.
Could this be, to quote Winston Churchill, “not the end … not even the beginning of the end … but perhaps the end of the beginning” of Hong Kong’s long and bitter struggle against the Great Tourism Menace?
Our despotic government, ever in the pay of the landlords who profit from the crush of map-perusing designer-label addicts from overseas, is pouring resources into what I hereby rename Ratty Alley. Cleansing officers are laying down poison and using high-pressure hoses to make sure that no little furry sewer-dweller sinks its teeth into a succulent bit of foreign flesh again.
Along that particular 150-foot stretch of pathway, that is. What our bureaucrats don’t realize is that Ratty Alley is not the only dingy and dirty backstreet in Central. And Central is not the only district in Hong Kong. There are lots of other places where tourists go, and giant psycho-rodents lurk.
On the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets. We will specially breed and expertly train the courageous little creatures to sniff out Lonely Planet guidebooks, Hysteric Glamour shopping bags and Shanghai Tang souvenirs, approach their victims stealthily, and pounce without mercy upon their exposed body parts, dragging them to the ground and devouring them, leaving nothing but a pile of mangled bones, a camera and a floppy hat for their homeland’s press to report. Let’s see 30 million of the wretches swamp every spare inch of our space per year then.
The reason why there are so many rats is that the dog lobby has forced the authorities not to lay so many poisonous rat baits. The pooches eat them and another dog poisoning scandal ensues. It must be an awful predicament for Hemlock to choose between dog control and rat control. Guess he prefers the rats?
Interestingly, I was made aware yesterday that a cure for the bubonic plague was actually found/made in Hong Kong….
“Interestingly, I was made aware yesterday that a cure for the bubonic plague was actually found/made in Hong Kong….”
Only yesterday? When did you arrive? Monday?
Ha. What are the odds that the person bitten by a rat in Central happened to be a golden haired round-eye, and a woman to boot! Ill bet our tourism chiefs are gnashing their teeth bemaoning it wasn’t some iron clad see lai who would have dealt with it as Ah Chan did, via a swift broom.
It’s amusingly ironic (to me at least) that people are complaining about a rat and its effect upon tourism when the Government spent millions building a home for two other rodents, Mickey and Minnie.
I once saw 2 tourists stopped by an XXL rat on the stairs next to the FCC. One said ” I didn’t know this was a safari.”
You can’t just go renaming streets on a whim – ‘Rat Alley’ is already taken by that dead end at the top of Wing Wah Lane containing HK’s best Thai restaurant – ‘Good Luck Thai’ – with the entertaining boss-man, who can drink a full glass of red wine in one go without it or the glass touching his lips… or have the powers closed it down already thereby freeing up the name for re-assignment?
Actually a couple of months ago, thankfully I have managed to avoid ‘holier than thou’ idiots like Historian and rats.
Rodents are a must-have as befits any self-respecting World City.
Think the Standard got this one right:
“A visitor was attacked yesterday by a rat in one of Hong Kongs most tourist- infested districts ….. “
Jing, that was not a rat, that was an associate member.
They just look similar.