Sham Shui Po residents overwhelmed by mainland tourists taking photos at Instagram hotspot

Screengrab via Instagram.
Screengrab via Instagram.

In 2016, Madrid-based street artist Okuda San Miguel transformed an ordinary residential building in Sham Shui Po as part of the city-wide street art festival HK Walls.

Two years later, his multi-colored 3D fox watches over the neighbourhood, attracting many photographers. But for some residents living in a tenement building across the street, it became too much this week after hundreds of mainland tourists enjoying their week off flocked to their rooftop to photograph the artwork.

Man Fung building on Tai Nan Street has been a hotspot for Instagrammers ever since the mural went up, and it was even highlighted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) at the launch of the Hong Kong Neighbourhoods — Sham Shui Po campaign, which the SCMP reported is a HK$12 million effort to promote the area.

But the buzz has made residents at a tenement building opposite the mural very unhappy.

Ming Pao reports that since the start of Golden Week, a seven-day national holiday in the mainland to mark China’s national day, a large number of tourists had been spotted coming in and out of the building, given it’s a prime spot for the perfect Instagram photo with the mural.

A tall metal fence complete with padlock had been installed a few meters away from the balcony edge to stop people from taking photos, but video posted online by the newspaper shows that even the metal fence wasn’t enough to stop some people getting that Instagram-perfect photo.

One of the building’s residents, surnamed Luk, told Apple Daily: “I’ve called the police so many times, it’s been getting worse since Friday, and police still haven’t come.”

She told the newspaper that last year she only made three phone calls to police about people trespassing onto the roof, but that in recent days more than 100 people have been spotted climbing up and down the stairs, and that the problem has been noticeably worse this year.

According to Ming Pao, an HKTB spokesperson had to issue a statement reminding tourists not to trespass onto other people’s property. The statement pointed out that people can take photos of the mural at street level.

Local media outlets reported that many of the mainland tourists they spoke to said they first found out about the mural through either Instagram or an e-Commerce app called Xiaohongshu, a review and shopping app that’s a combination of Instagram, Pinterest and Amazon, where users can tag fashion and cosmetic brands in their photos.

(Side note: Xiaohongshu literally translates to “Little Red Book”, though the app has no relation to Chairman Mao and his dictum-delivering little red book)

Some tourists also said they found out about the mural following a number of listicles on mainland websites recommending the best spots for photographs.

Sham Shui Po residents are not the only ones who have been overwhelmed by the large number of mainland tourists taking photos of their homes.

Residents a the picturesque Choi Hung public housing estate have also seen a huge number of tourists crowding the basketball court, angling for a photo with the building’s rainbow exterior.

One resident on her afternoon jog told HK01: “Yesterday the basketball was completely full, and no one would move or get out of the way, and they leave their trash everywhere.”

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