We first came across Tralala’s Diner courtesy of (who else?) Shakespeare and Max, who forwarded the landmark back in September 2017, although time didn’t permit us a visit until November (partly because I misfiled the LM in inventory). The description for the region – designed by tralala Loordes – did pique my curiosity in part: “Hong Kong Rooftop Slums” – not that I managed to find anything that remotely put me in mind of that wonderful city. The rest of the description, however, suits this full region right down to the T: it really is post-apocalyptic setting, with lots going on.
In fact, so much is going on visually, that the region is perhaps lifted above other regions offering similar settings; there is a quirkiness about Tralala’s Diner which makes it a little more than “just” your typical post-apocalyptic setting. Yes, there are the fires, the ruined buildings, the areas being reclaimed by nature, the attempts to organise life after the fall as witnessed through the presence of wind turbines, and what appears to be – at least going on the number of antennae, aerials and satellite dishes vying for rooftop space – attempts to make contact with other group who may have survived whatever disaster has befallen this world.
A visit starts at the landing point, slight off-centre to the middle of the region, in a shack at the end of an old street. An overpass rises just outside the shack, broken and bearing the wrecks of vehicles rusting in the elements. Signs beneath the elevated road warn of bio hazards ahead, perhaps encouraging those stepping out under a grubby sky to turn and follow the old road pointing away from the dire warnings. This road has long since been overtaken by nature, grass and bushes laying claim to its one pristine tarmac, the ageing and decrepit buildings on either side of it seeming to have faired better under nature’s attempts at reclamation.
Where you go from here is a matter of pointing your feet; it actually doesn’t matter where you go, as you’re bound to come across something extraordinary in whichever direction you opt to strike out. Daring the warning signs, for example, will bring you to a shanty town built within and on the roofs of old industrial units, and huddled around the square of a market offering a Sino-Japanese fusion of looks. Southwards, and the southern aspect of the region is given over to the ruins of city tower blocks standing as if blasted by one ore more explosions. Then there are the more eclectic structures to be found that together add a strange whimsy to the place; like the sliced hull of a submarine converted into a dormitory or barracks or the improbable sight of the home built of shipping containers held aloft by a propeller lazily turning beneath them, the owner’s bicycle neatly propped outside the vault-like door.
And that’s just the start. Everywhere are buildings old and older, whole and broken, some sheltering homes or market stalls or shops or other signs of commerce, others harking back to a bygone era when machines turned within them, people pulled off the roads to spend a night in their bedrooms and money was the oil that kept life moving. Now, among the hodgepodge of homes and places of commerce, the broken road and the decaying vehicles, the only things moving seem to the birds and the wind turbines. The latter are scattered across the landscape, standing alone or in regimented rows of three, as if waiting for some latter-day Don Quixote to come tilting at them, perhaps on a bizarre steed of human design.
What makes Tralala’s Diner particularly fascinating is the detail poured into it. Everywhere you wander there is something to see, be it large or small. The marketplace, for example is chock full of human bric-a-brac and the needs of life, while many of the buildings have interior fittings and furnishing, however shabby they might be. There is some cost for this however, particularly if you run the viewer with shadows enabled: with all the textures, the rainfall, etc., I found my FPS collapsing into single digits while exploring, and did struggle in a couple of places with rendering / movement.
Nevertheless, for those who like dystopian environments and places offering a post-apocalyptic outlook, Tralala’s Diner should not be missed. It is photogenically captivating, and those taking pictures are encouraged to post them to the region’s Flickr group.
- Tralala’s Diner (Pine Lake, rated: Moderate)