The Hong Kong government has spent roughly HK$2.3 million on a 30-person “stargazing terrace,” set to open next month near Sai Wan beach.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said construction began last October on the site of a disused campground at the popular hiking and camping spot in Sai Kung Country Park.

“A few years ago [the AFCD] started planning for a stargazing location in Sai Wan, as it was far from urban areas and suffered less light pollution,” the department told HKFP.

【🏞 麥徑 x 西灣 x 觀星 …

Posted by 漁農自然護理署 Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The site will feature a ring made of large, reclined benches: “The seat design is ergonomic and allows for different viewing angles. It is more comfortable than stargazing lying on the ground,” the department said.

Once opened, the stargazing terrace can accommodate 30 people around the clock. It is located five minutes away from the new campground at Sai Wan beach, and the nearest public transportation is an hour’s walk away.

The AFCD may have aimed for the stars, but for many Hongkongers, the prospect of viewing constellations was no consolation. Below the official Facebook post promoting the terrace, praise for the project was eclipsed by comments expressing scepticism.

sai wan stargazing terrace
Sai Wan stargazing terrace.

“It sticks out like a sore thumb… these things won’t be cleaned and will become dirty, and it’s more suitable for urban areas,” one commenter wrote.

“Can they make something that better fits into nature? Honestly, it is okay to just lie on the grass,” wrote another.

Save Our Country Parks, a coalition of local environmental groups, also offered a less-than-stellar review: “Our position remains the same: Intrusive. Unnecessary. Keep it simple. Minimalism should be guiding principle for interventions in the country park.”

The AFCD said that no trees were felled during construction, and the project went through a deliberation phase. “The concept for a stargazing location had been discussed at a meeting of the Working Group on Sai Wan Management, and a consensus was reached after consulting Sai Wan villagers,” the department said.

As for cost, the AFCD said spending estimates were not yet finalised, but a Legislative Council document budgeted the terrace for HK$2.3 million.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.