By Hazel Fok

Madly in love — New Asia Water Tower and United College Water Tower

There are two water towers in CUHK, one in New Asia College and one in United College. New Asia water tower is also called “the Gentleman Tower”, while United College water tower has the name of “the Lady Tower” because of its beautiful curves. The two water towers were said to be a couple madly in love. From their positions, you can see the charismatic gentleman faces the lady directly as if he is looking her in the eyes, while the lady leans to one side shyly to escape his burning gaze. Besides, the walkway behind Bethlehem Hall that links New Asia College and United College is named “lover’s path”. Although the path got its name from its narrowness as people have to cross it shoulder to shoulder (romantic huh?), this name undoubtedly offers an imaginary space to the story of “the couple.”

Both water towers were built in the 1970s to store and supply both freshwater and saltwater to hostels and buildings in the mountain top. However, claims are saying that the water towers were not longer in use due to advanced technology.

If the water towers are no longer in use, why haven’t they been demolished? I guess it is because of their historical significances. The fact that the water towers have been standing tall for decades overlooking the Tolo Harbour has already made them a symbol — an indispensable part of CUHK.

Students seem to adore the water towers too given the fact that I have heard of stories about students trying to break into the towers ever since I entered this university. I don’t trust those stories as I have observed the towers closely before. The locked tower door, as well as the security cameras added in the name of safety, has made the act of breaking in (seemingly) impossible. Nonetheless, these stories have broadened my imagination for this campus. Although we as students may not get to interact with the water towers intimately, watching the sunset with “the couple” is still a very calming thing to do.


The Beacon and Gate of Wisdom

Perhaps a lot of you have heard of this myth: “If you walk through Gate of Wisdom, you won’t be able to graduate.” This myth is possibly the most famous tale of CUHK. However, it is not that creative as there are also similar tales for other universities. For example, students of City University of Hong Kong would never pass through the middle door (out of five entries) or else they couldn’t graduate.

Other than this renowned legend, the Beacon is also a symbol of student and social movements in Hong Kong, representing the social responsibility and the sense of duty CUHK students have had for the society. As mentioned before, the University Mall has been the venue for assemblies, and the Beacon had been the podium for leaders of social movements to spread their words, such as 1989 June Fourth incident, 2012 anti-national education movement, and 2014 class boycott campaign which called for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

What you may not know is that the Beacon was planned to be removed for the expansion of the University Library back in 2008. A lot of students and alumni were angry such decision made by the school and held petitions and assemblies to fight against it. At last, the people won, and the school kept the Beacon on the original site you see now.


Everyone’s favorite —Weiyuan Lake (Lake Ad Excellentiam)

This beautiful lake is probably one of the first things you noticed upon entering the campus. When the university first established, there was no lake, but farmlands and small fish ponds. In the late 60s, a large pond named “Lotus Pond” was built, however, as the pond water was made up of stream water and sewage from canteens, the pond was muddy and unpleasant to look at. The school eventually rebuilt the pond into Weiyuan Lake in 1997 by treating the water, expanding the pond, building bridges and planting a large variety of exotic trees and flowers.

It is evident that everyone loves Weiyuan Lake. Many tourists like to visit Weiyuan Lake because of its short distance from the train station, while a lot of students also like to stroll around the lake and hold numerous activities. Some students like to picnic in the grassland, and couples like to walk along the lake at night, some students even dare to break the rules and swim at the lake in late night (when there’s a swimming pool on campus). Be sure to visit Weiyuan Lake in Autumn, the scenery of red leaves is one of the most charming views of CUHK!


The Million-dollar Myth of the University Mall

The University Mall, the famous walkway between the University Library and the Science Center, is fondly referred to as the “Million Boulevard” by people in CUHK as well as the general public. And several sayings go with this unusual name. One saying is that the construction fee of the University Mall was $1 million. In the 1970s, the expense of constructing a building, taking the Benjamin Franklin Centre located on Central Campus as an example, was just $2.5 million. Therefore, spending $1 million for the construction of a walkway would be a huge investment! Another saying is that millions of tiles were used. There is yet another saying that the name “Million Boulevard” contains the symbolic meaning of the Chinese Pattern of the tiles. The fret pattern on the tiles— a pattern commonly found in traditional Chinese architectures and antiques — represents the number “ten thousand,” the walkway made up of thousands of such tile is thus called “Million Boulevard.”

Over the decades, the University Mall has been a popular venue for different activities, from political demonstrations involving thousands of people to innovative student activities. For example, in a late night of September 2016, six students decided to play mahjong in the University Mall as they didn’t want to disturb the residents in their hostels. However, as the security passed by and spotted the event, the security decided that playing mahjong is forbidden despite having no official school regulation on it. The two parties conflicted and ended up with the security guards calling the police. Although the conflict was solved peacefully at last without the need of policemen’s help, this incident has been covered by several mainstream mass media and sparked a debate on the question — “who decided the rules of public space?” within the society. Other than playing mahjong, there were also cases of students eating hot pot in the University Mall too, so perhaps you can spend a minute to think about what you’d like to do there.


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