Monday, February 15, 2010

So much for the new, improved Oriental City?

Eighteen months after the closure of London's much-loved 'alternative' Chinatown, Oriental City remains closed and derelict.

As reported on the bbc blog, the mall - which housed an Asian supermarket, popular Chinese restaurants and a brilliant Asian food court - was bought out by a developer who obtained planning permission from Brent council to turn the site into a shopping and residential complex. The ambitious plans even included building a school on site. As reported here, the planning permission was conditional on some part of the new development being devoted to Asian businesses.

In fact, that developer (Development Securities) decided to sell the site to another company which was subsequently unable to stump up all the cash to seal the deal. The mall is reportedly now in the hands of administrators and the planning permission that was granted will expire in June.

Story: BBC News

So no new development, no new school and no new Oriental City. Or is there?

Wikipedia reports that there are talks amongst former tenants to take back the site and re-open it for business. Good news if they spend some money to renovate the abandoned site. Not so good if they simply switch the lights back on and carry on as before - the site did need some sprucing up, in my opinion.

But furthermore, there are signs that a new development in nearby Wembley wants to stake a claim on being the 'new' Oriental City. Pacific Plaza was set-up by a former Oriental City tenant and once fully opened may offer the same type of services as the old mall.

Link: Pacific Plaza on London Randomness

It's only partially open but could Pacific Plaza take over where Oriental City left off?

Related: The bbc blog's coverage of Oriental City

Photo: Kake Pugh

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gun Hei Fat Choi, Sun Leen Fai Lok!

Wishing all readers, wherever you are, a happy Chinese New Year.

Here's a sample of personal CNY thoughts and celebrations around the world, courtesy of Twitter.

Well, the bbc blog does try to keep up with the latest trends ;)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Perhaps the riskiest tourist attraction in China

... and maybe the world.

Huashan in Shaanxi province is one of China's sacred mountains and a hugely popular tourist destination. Besides the sedate pleasure of temples and awe-inspiring scenery, there is also a precarious pathway that is becoming known as one of the most deadly tourist activities in the world, a narrow trail that takes hikers up a steep mountainside with at times nothing but a couple of planks or a chain to stop you plummeting to your death.

So how dangerous is this trail? Actually no-one knows the official figures because none are available. But from seeing online accounts and photos, I think we can safely say it's not somewhere you want to take your digital SLR.

Kudos to the guy who installed those planks, though!