The Chinese are here, there and everywhere. Not just in Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui or Mong Kok.
They come in droves to Hong Kong every day. And it’s not just to shop.
From giving birth to babies to snapping up powdered formula, there are a whole lot of activities that mainlanders come to Hong Kong for.
Now they have another reason to come — to make use of Hong Kong’s public leisure facilities.
All this is a bit of an inconvenience to some Hongkongers.
Locals complain that their mainland cousins have virtually occupied all the public swimming pools in Sheung Shui, Fanling, Tai Wo, Tin Shui Wai and other parts of the northern New Territories in recent months.
Thanks to a recent report in the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis Daily that public swimming pools in Hong Kong offer better facilities at cheaper rates, it has been fashionable for mainlanders, especially those living in Shenzhen and Dongguan, to cross the border to splash water. It is said that there are even guided groups.
Overcrowding in swimming pools is an issue but there are more serious problems.
A few mainlanders pay no attention to personal and public hygiene. It is reported that swimming pools in North District are now more frequently closed than before for cleaning and chlorination.
There is no exact number on the flood of mainland swimmers as local leisure facilities are open to everyone, but the spike has triggered strikes by lifeguards complaining of a heavier workload.
Crowded and filthy swimming pools are hardly an isolated occurrence.
Mainland backpackers have also descended on free-to-use campsites including Pui O Campsite on Lantau Island to save on accommodation expenses.
Not surprisingly, they left the site almost like a rubbish-strewn refugee camp.
Indeed, Pui O has become so popular among mainlanders that the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has implemented a booking system for mainland holidays, restricting access to Hong Kong identity card holders only.
Now, the next target of mainlanders, as some locals fear, may be the city’s public barbecue sites.
Gangpiaoquan (literally, drifters in Hong Kong), a public Sina Weibo account founded by mainlanders living in the territory, published a post this week which recommends 10 most scenic and accessible BBQ sites including those in Big Wave Bay, Deep Water Bay, Shek O, and Sai Kung.
The post has been widely shared by Weibo users on the mainland. Many are astonished to learn that public BBQ sites in Hong Kong are free of charge with facilities like barbecue pits, benches, tables and toilets.
When a screenshot of the post began circulating on Facebook, many Hongkongers comment that they are worried that BBQ sites, mostly in country parks, will be overwhelmed by large numbers of mainlanders. Some are concerned that they can cause hillfires.
So where next for mainlanders to invade? Public gyms or students’ study rooms in public libraries?
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