The Reincarnated Lai Yuen


The re-opening of this “pseudo” Lai Yuen Amusement Park had re-lit many’s childhood memories. The news came on very late not until the month before the opening. The site where it locates had held so many events from wine festival to an insurance sponsored paid-entry carnival, from the not-so Basel fine art exhibition to a horse circus. All these usually comes with an admission fee, but this temporary Lai Yuen Amusement Park was allowed free admission. It’s the least they could do to bring people in.

I photo-documented this park carnival with a plastic analogue camera fitting the toyish and yet surreal theme. 

What’s Lai Yuen?
To most people especially the younger generation like me had not lived or old enough to remember that period while it was still in business at Lai Chi Kok. It was a 100% local HongKongese operated amusement park with a zoo since the 50s. It was closed in 1997 due to lack of profit and poor park maintenance. It was a popular hangout spot for couples and families.

I think the idea of Lai Yuen had not re-surfaced until the opening was partially due to a far cry from the capitalized Hong Kong society. There were so many Hong Kong Back-in-the-Days exhibitions over the years. Even our Hong Kong only Ocean Park had added a mini ‘Old Hong Kong’ section to display a glimpse of the old days. All these really had brought back many people’s memories. Some even most we haven’t seen. Who would have thought before all the reclaimed land from Kennedy Town, all the way to Quarry Bay/TaiKoo could all look like a Europe. Buildings’ architecture were so beautiful. So could even be seen similarly in the also British colonized India. Hong Kong all just seem so beautiful all of a sudden. The Hong Kong it was, is not the current Hong Kong. It all making it seemed like the Old or our physical heritage had been gone forever. I hate to say it but money has to go first in the city.

The Elephant named Tino used to be in Lai Chi Kok was replaced with a fake motorized robot one. It had turned into a game where it shoots water from its nose when participants successfully thrown a fake banana into his opened mouth. I admit that I was skeptical when I read it on the news but turned out it was fun to watch people throwing the banana to anywhere but the mouth. I guess they could’ve added one more penalty for the participants, either a really loud howl or a sneeze from it.

There used to be live tigers and more with their in-house wild animal tamers. I thought tamers in Hong Kong are only for the house pets, cats and dogs. Well, the tamers trained the animals in the old-fashioned barbaric way. If we modern people re-wind it back, the SPCA sirens would be in code red.

Other than the irreplaceable live animals, the park had offered a few Lai Yuen classic rides and games such as the Happy Ding Ding Boats, Merry-Go-Round, Spooky School and the Gum Tiles.

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