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Rubber Ducky, You’re the One

I can't believe my eyes. Every day from CNBC's studio here in Hong Kong, I look out at the harbor and see tiny sampans, bigger boats, medium yachts, a lot of shapeless flat things carrying some kind of stuff to somewhere and occasionally a big bad hulking ship, like U.S. Navy destroyers docked here so the sailors can get some R&R.

This is so out of place. He (or she) doesn't walk like a duck. He doesn't talk like a duck. But as sure as birds fly south for the winter, there's a massive yellow duck in the water (do ducks really come in yellow)? Oh, right. Yellow ducks exist because you can make rubber yellow.

I learned about the squeezability of rubber duckies from Ernie on Sesame Street, but this is like Ernie's bathtub partner on steroids. Dutch artist Florentijin Hofman created RUBBER DUCK, a.k.a. "Spreading Joy Around the World." He (the duck) is more than 16-meters tall, and braved the high seas to arrive here. He's been on a world tour since 2007, and has been to 12 cities before coming to Hong Kong.

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Hofman (the artist not the duck) puts images of "Yellow Submarine" in my head.

Florentijin Hofman's 16.5-meter tall inflatable Rubber Duck called 'Spreading Joy Around the World' seen at the Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.
Philippe Lopez | AFP | Getty Images
Florentijin Hofman's 16.5-meter tall inflatable Rubber Duck called 'Spreading Joy Around the World' seen at the Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.

"It means public art means a lot to people," he told the local press. "The water in the world is a global bath tub. You and I are taking the same bath". Eww.

We need more diversions like Ducky. We have dockworkers on strike, everyone's worried about the high price of housing, the pollution won't go away, we're in this dreary gray drab rainy season right now and the roads are congested. It's so nice to empty the mind for just a little bit and have this oddball sight amid the squalor of daily life.

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Ducky coincides with a larger exhibit in West Kowloon, called Mobile M :Inflation, which features a series of inflatable artwork from around the world.

Rubber Ducky is given a warm welcome by young children from SDM Jazz and Ballet Academie at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.
Getty Images
Rubber Ducky is given a warm welcome by young children from SDM Jazz and Ballet Academie at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.

But Ducky seems to have won more hearts. More than a thousand people greeted his arrival at Ocean Terminal (of course this being Hong Kong, a couple of restaurants at the dockside promptly ran ads telling people to grab a front row seat to see the duck by booking your brunch now!) . Professor Denny Ho of Hong Kong Polytechnic University told the local English daily that "the duck has been well received, it's a big surprise with a pretty face, compared to the excrement pile showing at the exhibit."

Yes, someone really created a huge inflatable pile resembling excrement and called it art. Hmm.

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I love having Ducky around. He'll be here until June 9th; then he'll paddle, or rather, be towed to another city where they'll swoon over him all over again.

What do others think about having him in town? I asked Richard Iley, one of my regular guests from BNP Paribas, and he said: "It's all quackers."

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