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Showing posts from March, 2013

A Walk in Hong Kong: From Wan Chai to Central

On Friday I had nothing special to do, so I decided to go to visit the Legislative Council. I went from Hang Hau to North Point, and then took the tram. But the tram was so slow, hot and crowded that I got off and went on foot. Then I realized how small Hong Kong Island actually is. I basically walked from North Point to Central, which seems a quite huge distance if you look at the map below, but it didn't take that long.   



I will write a few small posts about the things one can see in Central District, because there are many interesting sites, most of which are from the colonial era. As a matter of fact, among the modern skyscrapers it is possible to find many old buildings. They are, truth be told, just a small part of what was once the "pre-economic miracle" Hong Kong. The boom of the 1970s, the influx of immigrants from mainland China and the lack of space made  it necessary to tear down a lot of old buildings. 

Hong Kong has been called one the most vertical cities i…

Hong Kong's Struggle For Universal Suffrage

As the South China Morning Post reported today, Qiao Xiaoyang (喬曉陽), chairman of the Law Committee under the National People's Congress, said that discussions about a possible electoral reform in Hong Kong, which could lead to the establishment of a fully elected government, should not begin until the people of Hong Kong agree that those who confront the Beijing government cannot and shall not be allowed to govern the city (the Chinese text of Qiao Xiaoyang's speech can be found on the website of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong S.A.R.).
Pro-democracy forces within Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), are pushing for a reform of the electoral system before the coming chief executive elections in 2017.
According to Qiao Xiaoyang, Beijing would be willing to begin consultations over the election reforms only if two prerequisites were fulfilled: first, the reforms would have to be in line with Hong Kong's Basic Law and "…

The City of Darkness - Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong

"The Walled City did have a strange status and a peculiar life of its own: it was not governed by law. As a result, it had become a haven for illegal immigrants, criminals and vice of every kind." Jackie Pullinger










When one looks at the pictures of the Kowloon Walled City Park one can hardly imagine what was to be found in this very place less than two decades ago. Until the beginning of the 1990s some 40,000 residents lived within this 6.5-acre (0.026 km2) area, cramped in unhygienic, infested houses, built illegally by all sorts of people who, for whatever reason, chose to take refuge in that "city of darkness", as it was known in those days. 




Before being demolished in 1994, Kowloon Walled City was an enigmatic and appalling anomaly in this modern, wealthy metropolis. That compact mass of dilapidated, squalid houses stood in the middle of residential areas, like a mysterious, impenetrable fortress, governed by its own laws, dominated by criminal triads, inaccessible…

History of Hong Kong (Part I)

Hong Kong is a unique place. It was Britain's first and only direct colonial possession in China; and it was the last big British colony, the last remnant of the Empire that ruled a quarter of mankind. Under British administration, Hong Kong rose to become one of the richest, most exciting, and densely populated cities in the world. 


Yet it has always been a thoroughly Chinese city, in which East and West met, but didn't merge into one single people, one single civilization.
When Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer of the Royal Navy took possession of Hong Kong in the morning of 26 Januray 1841, in a place that is now known as Possession Point, the island of Hong Kong had nothing in common with the vibrant metropolis that we see today.
Dismissed by Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston (1784 – 1865) as ‘a barren island with hardly a house upon it’, Hong Kong was nothing more than a remote outpost of the Chinese Empire, a small island, home to less than 8,000 fishermen and farmers. Today, it …

Living in Hong Kong

Yesterday I finally arrived in Hong Kong and moved in my new temporary flat, where I will be spending the next two months.
Hong Kong is known for having one of the most expensive property markets in the world. As South China Morning Post reported,  "prices per square foot now exceed HK$10,000 even in drab, unglamorous districts such as Taikoo Shing on Hong Kong Island, where thousands of 700 square-foot units sell for more than US$1 million apiece, more than a large cottage in Provence, France, a 2,700 square-foot bungalow in Hawaii, or a 1,300 square-foot flat on Manhattan’s Upper West Side."
I now have the privilege to experience myself the consequences of the shortage of land and high population density that characterize Hong Kong (and also of recent years' speculation). My new really tiny room (it's the smallest room I've ever lived in) costs 4,000 HKD (around 400 Euros).
Hong Kong's lack of space and huge population are the reasons why the city's skylin…