City of Darkness
Life in Kowloon Walled City
Life in Kowloon Walled City
Hak Nam, "the City of Darkness", the old Walled City of Kowloon has come down. Many people in Hong Kong, both Chinese and foreign, for whom it was never more than a disgusting rumour, believed it went years ago. Not so. Almost to the end it retained its seedy magnificence. It had never looked more impudent, more desperate, more evil to some eyes, more weirdly beautiful to others.
For many years its limits were blurred by a dense under-growth of squatters' shacks that spread outward from it. As the first step towards clearing the whole site, these were swept away and replaced on two of the City's four sides by a dusty park where the landscaping is only now taking hold.
Kowloon Walled City
The City reared up abruptly from the bare ground, 10, 12, in places as many as 14 storeys high, and there was no mistaking it: six-and-a-half acres of solid building, home to 33,000 people, the biggest slum in the world. It was also, arguably, the closest thing to a truly self-regulating, self-sufficient, self-determining modern city that has ever been built.
For a long time the Walled City was synonymous with all that was darkest and most threatening in China: opium dens, warring Triad gangs, huge rats and terrible drains. But during its final years, when proper policing meant that foreign intruders and inquisitive strangers no longer risked having their cameras smashed or their throats slit, it became possible to look at it in a different, more detached light.
What is a city in essence ? How do we arrive at one that really works, that satisfies the deep emotional as well as the everyday needs of the people who live in it, to the same degree as the ideal sort of village? For all its squalor and its legacy of vice, Kowloon's Walled City offered some intriguing answers.
The City in its final, massive high-rise form went back barely 20 years. ln origin, however, it was much the oldest part of Hong Kong, and one of the few areas in Kowloon populated in 1898 when the British acquired their 99-year lease on the New Territories. Hong Kong, the island, in the famously dismissive words of its first British governor, was no more than "a borren rock". By contrast, a settlement had existed on the site of the Walled City since 1668, and the 'city' itself was built in the mid-nineteenth century.
It was a proper Chinese town, laid out with painstaking attention to eternal principles; the Chinese believed that a town should face south and overlook water, with hills and mountains to the north. Given such conditions, the Yin elements (from the water) and the Yang (from the mountains) combine in such a way as to bless the lives of the inhabitants with harmony. The Walled City was in these terms very happily placed, with the great Lion Rock Just to the north of it, and Kowloon Bay immediately to the south. What the geomantic sages could not control were the infringements of the barbarians: ﬁrst, marauding anti-dynastic rebels, and second, and far more devastating, the British.
Under the terms of the 99-year lease, it was agreed that the Chinese would keep this, their ancient toehold on the peninsula, and would continue to exercise jurisdiction there until - or so the British believed - the colonial administration for the area had been established. This condition was never resolved, however, and the situation rapidly became irksome to the British. After military skirmishes between British and Chinese troops, they issued an Order in Council announcing that British jurisdiction was to be extended over the Walled City as well.
But the Order in Council remained unilateral, and a diplomatic stalemate ensued which was only ended in 1984 in the Thatcher-Deng agreement on the colony's future. Throughout the century of British rule, the Walled City has been an anomaly: within British domain, yet outside British control. Chinese officials left for good in 1899, but whenever the colonial authority tried to impose its will, the residents threatened to turn the attempt into a diplomatic incident Until the Second World War the Walled City kept much of its old character, and offered a popular glimpse into the world of Old Cathay for foreign tourists.
The ﬁrst body-blow to the place was delivered by the invading Japanese: they tore down the huge granite ashlar walls and used them to build Kai Tak Airport (the nucleus of which is still the colony's airport) on artificial land created in the shallows of Kowloon Bay. The former harmony was destroyed: the creation of the airport drove away the Yin spirit, which had been provided by the water. The City was abandoned. And with both walls and residents gone, effectively it ceased to exist.
What remained, however, was its status as a diplomatic black hole, and in the chaos of the War's aftermath it provided the perfect place of asylum for the great waves of refugees pouring south to escape famine, civil war and political persecution. Hong Kong remains to this day a territory peopled almost entirely by refugees and their descendants, which is the underlying reason for the universal uncertainty about reversion to China in 1997.
Even today illegal immigrants sneak across the border all the time, though many are booted straight out again. For many thousands of those who arrived in the 1940s and '50s, the City, surrounded now only by walls of political inhibition, was the place where they got their breath back: where they could live as Chinese among other Chinese, untaxed, uncounted, untormented by governments of any kind. Here the rents were mercifully low and no colonial busybodies snooped around asking questions about visas or licenses, or working conditions or wages, or anything else.
The Walled City became that rarest of things, a working model of the anarchist society. Inevitably, it bred all the vices that the enemies of anarchism denounce. Crime flourished. The Triad gangs made the place their stronghold, and amassed fortunes operating their brothels and opium 'divans' and gambling dens. Undoubtedly, they kept many residents in a state of fear and subjection, which is the reason why, until very recently, outsiders trying to penetrate were given the coldest of shoulders.
But the City's economic activity was not restricted to vice. Many legitimate businesses flourished too, albeit in conditions of great squalor and exploitation. Refugees, who did not dare leave the place for fear of being picked up by the colonial police, lived there in a state of virtual slavery, penned up in cages when they were not sweating in the factories. The Walled City housed some of the colony's most prosperous textile factories. as well as plants turning out toys, sweets, metallic bits of this and that such as watch straps, and huge amounts of food. It was, for example, the principal source of that sine qua non of Hong Kong gourmandise, the ﬁsh ball.
Gruesome though these factories are up close, it is the presence of the legitimate businesses in the City which enables us to get a clearer perspective on the place. For a long time images of lurid evil dominated public perception of it. This satisﬁed the prurient, and often quite racist, curiosity with Chinese low-life, but obscured the Walled City's many positive achievements - some of which were really quite astounding, and might even lend new credibility to that old anarchist model.
Here you had a totally self-contained, land-locked, extra-legal community of tens of thousands of people crammed into a tiny space, each with one idea in mind: survival. Their needs were no different from anyone else's: water, light, food and space. Of these, water was the most indispensable. The only way to get it was to go down, and so that's what they did, just as they had back in the old ancestral village, sinking 77 wells in all around the City, to a depth of some 300 feet.
Electric pumps shot water up to great tanks on the roof-tops, from where it descended via an ad hoc forest of narrow pipes to the homes of subscribers. Plumbing was created in the same pragmatic fashion, though not to a standard that would satisfy any rational authority. (What is amazing is that the sewers and the water supply did not get mixed up.)
To run the pumps and to light up the City's alleys required electricity, and this challenge was tackled in typically robust fashion: they stole it from the mains. Only in the 1970s, after a serious lire (much the most terrifying hazard in the City), were the electricity authorities allowed in with their meters .
Thus was the substructure of urban life banged roughly but workably into shape. And on top of this a crude - and, from our elevated standpoint. no doubt a dingy, seedy and undesirable - sort of society came to flourish. As already mentioned, there was industry of every description. There were also several schools and kindergartens, some of them run by organizations such as the Salvation Army.
Medical and dental care were no problem at all: many of the residents were doctors and dentists with Chinese qualiﬁcations and years of experience but lacking the expensive pieces of paper required to practice in the colony. They set up their neat little clinics in the City, oases of cleanliness and order, and charged their patients a fraction of what they would pay outside.
For the moments of relief from toil there were many restaurants on the City's fringes. Embedded deep in its heart, one of the few physical relics of the past-was a temple, and there was a church as well. A born-again Christian English woman called Jackie Pollinger, who arrived in the 1960s, was quick to spot the potential harvest of souls to be had among the addicts and the downtrodden, and since then has been weaning addicts in the City off heroin with amazing passion and success. For the many residents who retained their poise and pride despite the living conditions, the City offered opportunities for relaxation too. Every afternoon the alleys were alive with the clacking of mahjong tiles. Up on the roof, in cages not much smaller than some of the City's homes, cooed hundreds of racing pigeons. A part-time Chinese orchestra got together twice a week, and the melancholic, sinuous notes of the old instruments filtered up and down the alleys.
For anyone who has wandered, enchanted and appalled, through the working-class back streets of Hong Kong or Macau, Greg Girard and lan Lambot's pictures will readily evoke the feel - and more particularly the smell - of the interior of the Walled City. But no images can do full justice to the experience of having been there.
There were no thoroughfares in the City - and no vehicles except the odd bicycle - only hundreds of alleys, each different. From the innocuous, neutral outside you plunged in. The space was often no more than four feet wide.
Immediately, it dipped and twisted, the safe world outside vanished, and the Walled City swallowed you up. lt was dark and incredibly dank. lt was impossible to stand upright because the roof of the alley was lined with a confusion of plastic pipes carrying water, many of them dripping. Immediately you were in, the symphony of stinks commenced: the damp, first of all, and underlying all the others; then, as you progressed, smells of incense - burned outside the homes - or charcoal, of putrefying pig's guts, of sweet-and-sour cooking, of raw and probably rotting fish, of burning plastic from a factory, of some sort of polish, of incense again, of mildew.
The light was dingy at best, deep green; there was the endless spatter of water leaking on to stone. One particularly ghastly little ginnel - spongily wet underfoot, a big rat hopping off- brought you to the gate of the Tin Hau temple.
Its courtyard had been shielded from the rubbish routinely heaved out of upstairs windows by wire netting which, as a result, was liberally spotted with bits of ancient ﬁlth, through which some real light occasionally filtered down, just like the light which dapples through leaves in a forest.
All this intensity of random human effort and activity, vice and sloth and industry, exempted from all the controls we take for granted, resulted in an environment as richly varied and as sensual as anything in the heart of the tropical rainforest. The only drawback is that it was obviously toxic.
We climbed and climbed the steps of an apartment block. Who would have been a postman in such a place? Yet there was a postal service, and because the alleys and blocks often had no names or numbers, the postmen had devised their own system, roughly daubing complicated numbers on each door to guide them.
We kept on climbing and slowly it got a little better. The smells were diluted. Something like oxygen made its presence felt. The light brightened. We emerged finally at roof level, the only part of the Walled City where there was any space to spare. From there the awesome size of the place, which was essentially a single Iump of building, became apparent.
The blocks were built at different times, of different heights and materials. Some were quite sophisticated: one of the largest, for example, was a copy of an early Hong Kong municipal housing block, designed by housing authority architects in their spare time. Some had home-made annexes of brick or iron or plastic fastened on to the roofs, but all were jammed up flush against each other so that an agile cat could circle the place at roof level without difficulty. The roof had various functions. One of the municipal services which the Walled City never really got to grips with was rubbish collection. Somehow or other they disposed of the organic, but the inorganic - old television sets, broken furniture, worn-out clothes, bedsprings and the like - they lugged up to the roof and abandoned. ln among these unaesthetic piles of junk, village life continued.
Washing was strung up between the thousand television aerials. Small children played something like hopscotch under the eyes of old ladies. Pigeons cooed sonorously. And every 10 minutes or so another jumbo jet descended on Kai Tak Airport - heading straight for the Walled City and, skimming so low, it was surprising that it did not make its final descent festooned in laundry.
What fascinates about the Walled City is that, for all its horrible shortcomings, its builders and residents succeeded in creating what modern architects, with all their resources of money and expertise, have failed to: the city as 'organic megastructure', not set rigidly for a lifetime but continually responsive to the changing requirements of its users, fulﬁlling every need from water supply to religion, yet providing also the warmth and intimacy of a single huge household.
As the sun finally sets on this vast slum, there is perhaps cause enough to don rose-coloured spectacles and praise it.
The Kowloon Walled City was one of the greatest anomalies in Hong Kong's history. No other part of the territory caused such controversy or maintained such a confused identity as this 6'/2 acre slum. Claimed by both China and Britain but properly administered by neither, the Walled City became a legal no-man's-land, a notorious city of darkness and sin.
lt wasn't sin, but salt, which first gave the Walled City life. ln the Sung Dynasty (960-1297), north-east coastal Kowloon was an important salt-field, one of several in the district of San On. lt was known then as Kuan-fu Ch'ang -Kowloon, the vernacular name, was only officially adopted in 1840. A small fort was established here early on in the Sung Dynasty, to house Imperial soldiers who control ed the salt trade. For a brief time, too, in 1277, it probably hosted the 'traveling palace' of the young Sung Emperor, fleeing from the Mongols who had invaded south China two years earlier.
This distant military outpost of Imperial China, called Kau Lung Shing (Kowloon City) by the locals, was situated immediately north-west of a settlement known as Kau Lung Gai (Kowloon Street), an area which became notorious in the 1890s for its gambling dens. The fort itself made no head-lines for several centuries, until 1668, when a watchpost was established on the site with a small garrison of 30 guards. In later years this number was reduced to 10. In 1810, an additional fort was built near the coast. Its strategic position, just a quarter of a mile from the sea and across the harbour from Hong Kong, was soon to bring it lasting fame.
In 1841 Britain occupied Hong Kong island, forcing the Chinese to respond. How could they defend Kowloon from a possible British invasion? In 1843 they decided to transfer a deputy magistrate ; administratively responsible for 492 neighbouring villages, to Kowloon City, together with the chief military officer of the county and an increased garrison of 150 soldiers.
The Viceroy of Canton soon suggested further improvements to the fort, including offices, barracks and training facilities. But his most signiﬁcant proposal was to build a wall. By 1847 it was finished, transforming the nondescript fort into the Kowloon Walled City, a visible and psychological symbol of Imperial control to the barbarians in Hong Kong.
|1845 : the island and Kowloon (North)|
When the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong, J.H. Stewart Lockhart, surveyed the newly-leased New Territories in 1898, he described the wall’s impressive dimensions : “ The wall is built of granite ashlar facing, is 15 feet in width at the tap and averages in height 13 feet “. A rough parallelogram, it measured 700 feet by 400 feet and enclosed an area of 6'/2 acres, an earlier extension which ran from the northern corner up the rocky hill behind having already fallen into disuse.
It featured six watch-towers (then occupied as family dwellings), four gateways, a granite parapet with 119 embrasures, and dozens of cannons. 'Kowloon might... be styled the City of Cannons", declared a Hongkong Weekly Press article in 1904. 'Everywhere one goes one strikes up against ancient dismantled guns. '
Not long after the wall was completed, the City boasted more refinements: a yamen (office for the deputy magistrate), a traditional paper-burning pavilion near the east gate and the Lung Chun Yee Hok (communal school), founded in 1847 to act as a moral defence against barbarian influences and a meeting place for officials. By 1880 a charitable society, the Lok Sin Tong (Hall of Willing Charity), had been established to distribute free education and free medicine to the surrounding villages.
The one thing the Walled City did not have was a market or, indeed, shops of any kind. lt was primarily a garrison town for officials and soldiers. In 1898 the garrison numbered 500 and the civilian population 200, largely dependants of the military and reportedly under the jurisdiction of the military commander. But the area leading from the cast gate to the waterfront a quarter of a mile away - the original Kau Lung Gai - soon developed into a bustling market town attracting villagers from as far as Shatin and Sai Kung. As trade developed, a provincial customs station was set up in 1871 to prevent smuggling - especially opium - from Hong Kong, replaced 15 years later by a more important 'Chinese Maritime Customs Station'.
Beyond these suburbs of Kowloon City ran the Lung Chun Pier, an imposing stone jetty supported by 21 pillars, completed in 1875 and running 700 feet out into the sea to enable the mandarin to reach his boat in style. ln 1892 a 260-foot wooden extension was added. A two-storey Lung Chun (Mandarin Greeting) Pavilion was built at the head of the pier as an official reception area and rest house for travellers. Completing the formal entrance-way was a pallau, or ceremonial arch. Ironically, the first people to test the Walled City's new defences were not British, but Chinese; rebels captured the Walled City during the 1854 Taiping uprising, ransacking its houses and seizing livestock. The Imperial officials and soldiers fled to the only safe place around - Hong Kong island.
A week later they regained their military foothold; the garrison of 300 which the rebels had left behind when they headed north had already become quarrelsome and restless. and had begun to split up. Within a fortnight, most had left to join the main body of rebels, which eventually met with a crushing defeat.
Triads, the republican secret societies which were being formed at this time to oppose Imperial Manchu rule, were another menace. ln 1884, the Walled City mandarin warned British authorities of a possible Triad uprising and advised them to be on their guard. Nothing alarming occurred, though it served to highlight the fear of repercussions across the harbour if anything happened in Kowloon.
In these early days prior to 1898, relations between the officials of the Walled City and those of Hong Kong were surprisingly amicable, at least in the field of law and order. An ordinance of 1850 required that Chinese fugitives in Hong Kong were handed over to Kowloon officials, and though China was not obliged to reciprocate, it carried out ruthless punishments of its own against criminals. In 1890, for instance, a couple of pirates were arrested in Hong Kong but later released for lack of evidence. Their associates in Kowloon, however, were promptly arrested, convicted and beheaded on the beach in front of the fort. British officials were politely invited to witness the event.
The Walled City and its adjacent town were well known to the British of Hong Kong by then. The fort had been something of a tourist attraction for Hong Kong's European residents ever since the l850s. though a Reverend Krone, writing about San On district in 1858, had 'little to say' about the 'low walls and miserable forts of Kowlaang [sic]". The 1893 Hongkong Guide was more forthcoming, though scarcely more complimentary. It described one of the popular 'picnic party' walks on the Kowloon mainland ending in the 'curious and particularly dirty little Kowloon City', where a circuit of the walls 'can be made in five minutes. The formalities usually insisted upon in garrison towns . . . are dispensed with here. You come, you see, you wall: round. The cannon on the walls suggest the idea that you would rather be a good way off when any attempt is made to fire them. One or two petty officers are stationed on this dreary spot, and they must have a dull time of it. The chief trade of the place is from the several gambling houses erected near the beach there".
This, indeed, had been Kowloon City's increasing claim to fame ever since the Kowloon peninsula was ceded to Britain in 1860, leading to a rapid growth in the City's population and corresponding decline in its physical and moral state. While the walled fort managed to maintain its dignity as an important center of civil and military administration - with houses 'of a very superior class". according to a 1904 Hong-kong Weekly Press article, and tree-lined streets 'wide and commodious' - the suburban area outside was little better than a plague-ridden slum, with narrow, dirty streets and a 'wretched agglomeration of Chinese hovels", as described by an l890 report in The Hongkong Telegraph. This 'festering sore' harboured all kinds of vice: brothels opium parlours and gambling dens. Worst of all, exclaimed the Hong Kong press, it had become the 'favourite [gambling] rendez-vous of a considerable number of the British and foreign community". Since gambling had been prohibited in Hong Kong, Kowloon City's gambling dens proved an irresistible attraction. In typical Hong Kong entrepreneurial style, operators offered free steam-launch rides for punters from Hong Kong, with complimentary coffee and cigars on board. Hong Kong officials, as well as the press. were increasingly outraged by the goings-on. 'It is not too much to say that this place, with its encouragements to vice and dishonesty, adds enormously to the task of preserving order and good government among the large Chinese population of the Colony', exclaimed the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce in 1898. 'The inclusion of this small city within British boundaries would greatly assist in the detection and repression of crime. "
It was easier said than done. In early 1898, Sir Claude MacDonald, British Minister in Peking, began negotiations with the Chinese on leasing extra territory on the mainland opposite Hong Kong for defence purposes Almost at once he encountered a problem: 'Great difﬁculty is Kowloon City', he reported to the Foreign Office, 'necessity of withdrawing permanent ofﬁcials being much resented'. Impatient to reach agreement on the lease, Arthur Balfour of the Foreign Office hastily telegraphed back: 'ls it a question of dignity or money? Would a lease get over it? If money compensation is required we could offer reasonable terms, or some arrangements might be made leaving Chinese ofﬁcials in the town undisturbed but subjecting them to paramount British authority".
MacDonald confirmed that it did indeed seem to be a question of 'saving face', a very important consideration with Chinese", although officially the Tsungli Yamen (Chinese Foreign Office) claimed the transfer of power would cause instability. There may also have been some concern that, according to traditional belief, any Emperor who lost a city during his reign would be unable to enter the royal temple and face his ancestors' spirits
At any rate, the Chinese were adamant about retaining jurisdiction in Kowloon City, by which they meant the Walled City, not the suburbs. even if it was limited by the British insistence on the phrase 'except so far as may be inconsistent with the military requirements for the defence of Hong Kong
'The retention of Chinese jurisdiction within Kowloon City was the point on which the Yamen showed the greatest determination", summarised MacDonald after the final draft for the New Territories Iease was completed. He continued: 'It is not to be supposed that the City of Kowloon will long remain outside British jurisdiction with the surrounding district subject to it, but l think that no harm can result from allowing it to do so for a few years longer, and that little inconvenience will be caused by it, especially as the authority of the Chinese officials will be exercised subject to the stipulation that it does not interfere with military requirements'.
How wrong this proved to be! The ambiguous wording of the Kowloon City clause that was inserted in the hurriedly-drafted Pelring Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong, signed on 9 June 1898. would only serve to exacerbate problems in the future: '. . . within the city of Kowloon, the Chinese ofﬁcials now stationed there shall continue to exercise jurisdiction except so far as may be inconsistent with the military requirements for the defence of Hong Kong. Within the remainder of the newly-leosed territory Great Britain shall have sole jurisdiction. It is further agreed that the existing landing-place near Kowloon City shall be reserved for the convenience of Chinese men-of-war, merchant and passenger vessels, which may come and go and lie there at their pleasure; and for the convenience of movement of the ofﬁcials and people within the City".
The clause immediately caused outrage among the Hong Kong press and business community. Chinese jurisdiction in the Walled City, claimed the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, would prolong the 'moral danger' that the City's notorious suburbs represented and 'could not fail to exercise a malign influence on the minds of the natives. and would assuredly have a damaging effect on British prestige in South China". A British journal was even more explicit: 'We will never be able to maintain good order nor enforce sanitary measures as long as Chinese ofﬁcials ore allowed to remain in Kowloon. The Chinese ofﬁcials must go, and the sooner they go, the better for all concerned". The convention was to take effect on l July 1898. But various factors delayed the formal possession of the New Territories until April the following year. by which time local villagers and clan leaders had built up considerable resentment to the new arrangements. When they resisted preparations for the takeover. the Governor. Sir Henry Blake. called on the Viceroy of Canton for 'ample protection". Although the elderly Viceroy heartily disliked the barbarians, he immediately complied and sent down 300 troops.
On 3 April, after a party of police sent to guard workers erecting 'mat-sheds' for the official possession ceremony was attached, a further 600 troops were sent. But organised resistance continued, with violent clashes and some loss of life to the Chinese, and the Union Jack was hurriedly raised on 16 April, one day earlier than planned. Hong Kong's British residents were most upset, said The Daily Press, at missing the ofﬁcial ceremony, which should have been 'a pleasant little outing and an opportunity for indulging in an outburst of patriatic fervour'.
The public was also indignant at the resistance shown by the locals and demanded the expulsion of Chinese officials from the Walled City as reparation. This coincided neatly with the eagerness of the Colonial Office to rectify the Walled City's awkward status which they had always hoped to be temporary. But they needed a good excuse to act; in the end, it was the Viceroy himself who provided it. The day before the flag-raising ceremony, the Viceroy had sent a further 600 troops to the New Territories: half had gone to the Walled City, and half to the border town of Shum Chun. The Governor, suspecting the Viceroy's complicity in the well-organised disturbances and his intentions in sending this new batch of soldiers, requested the 'removal of all Chinese troops and ofﬁcials from /eased territory, except Customs ofﬁcials'.
The Tsungli Yamen promised to instruct the Viceroy to remove the troops, but by 29 April there were still 300 soldiers in the Walled City. The Colonial Office turned pugnacious, proposing that the garrison should be blockaded and starved out. The British Government vacillated, but by 14 May, with 200 soldiers still holding out, it finally agreed that the Walled City should be seized. Two days later, British troops valiantly launched their attack. Watched by a large crowd who, despite the supposed secrecy of the operation had gathered in good time on the beach, 100 Hong Kong volunteers and 200 Royal Welch Fusiliers disembarked at Lung Chun Pier and manoeuvred their Maxim-guns through the suburb's narrow and dark, 'evil smelling streets". Marching through the Walled City's open south gate, their guns at the ready, what did they find? Nothing. The Viceroy's soldiers had gone. Only the mandarin, protesting loudly, was there to greet them, and about 150 inhabitants. The British troops rounded up a cache of arms, raised the Union Jack and fired a 21-gun salute before returning to Hong Kong, leaving a small force in occupation. 'The trip", reported a satisfied Hongkong Weekly Press, 'was immense/y enjoyed by all who took part in it. 'Although the Walled City's inhabitants left by junk a few days later, the garrison's officers refused to evacuate without orders from the Viceroy. Meanwhile, of course, protests about the occupation came flying in from the Viceroy and the Tsungli Yamen. But the more they protested, the more the British authorities dug in their heelsz 'After the recent experience which [the Hong Kong authorities] have had", wrote the British Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, to the Chinese Minister in London, 'not only of the worthlessness of the protection extended by the Chinese garrison at Kowloon but of the additional danger involved in its presence, it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to allow the resumption of Chinese authority within the walls of that City'. To seal the issue legally, an order in Council on 27 December 1899, declared that 'the exercise of jurisdiction by the Chinese ofﬁcials in the City of Kowloon, having been found to be inconsistent with the military requirements for the defence of Hong Kong", the Walled City would now become, 'part and parcel of Her Majesty's Colony of Hong Kong as if it had originally formed part of the said Colony'.
At this point, it might have been expected that the British would demonstrate clearly their control of the Walled City. But apart from establishing the New Territories' ﬁrst Land Court in the City's Lung Chun school building in 1900, they left the place pretty much alone. Neither did the Chinese, for all their remonstrating, try to reinstate an administration
By 1904, there was 'nothing but desolation' inside the Walled City, according to a Hongkong Weekly Press article. Sensitive to further outbursts of Chinese criticism, the Government was only prepared to grant short-term leases inside the City for public purposes, which resulted in the establishment of many church-run charitable institutions. The Protestant church operated schools and charities. while the Anglican Holy Trinity church converted the former San Sheng (Three Saints) Temple into a chapel and held twice-weekly services. An old people's home, school and almshouse - all run by the church - were converted from former offices, and when the Lung Chun school ceased to be used by the Lands Office, in 1905, it became a free secondary school and public dispensary.
For tourists and Hong Kong residents, the Walled City was now once again a quaint curiosity, "a little bit of Old China 'to be visited and photographed. Especially popular were two huge cannon near the south gate, apparently the only ones to escape being dismantled or sold to metal dealers after the British occupation. One inhabitant capitalised on this tourist trade by selling copies of the Walled City's historical stone inscriptions to visitors.
Meanwhile, however, the world outside the walls was rapidly changing: with the reclamation and development of Kowloon Bay, the Walled City gradually found itself further and further inland, surrounded by new roads, public housing estates, factories and, eventually, Kai Tak Airport. By contrast, the City itself was deteriorating; by the 19205 its south wall had crumbled and Lung Chun Pier had fallen into disuse. The mandarin's ofﬁce and many of the 60 domestic buildings were practically in ruins. In the surrounding hills, thousands of Chiu Chow squatters raised pigs and poultry; many of them had even ﬁltered into the City itself.
It was time, thought the Hong Kong authorities, to get rid of this awkward and insanitary place once and for all. In 1933 the Government announced plans to demolish the houses, compensate the 436 squatter-residents and turn the area into 'a place of popular resort and antiquarian interest". When the residents protested and appealed to China for support, further compensation in the form of a new house for each family was offered. The District Officer South responsible A British Government document from 1948 described for the evacuation, G. Kennedy-Skipton, recalled, in 1970, that these generous offers of compensation were largely responsible for persuading the people to move voluntarily, "despite resistance from the Nationalist Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs who made a trip from Canton to dissuade them from moving".
With one recalcitrant stirring up trouble, China continued to protest, but the evacuation went ahead anyway. By 1940 everything had been demolished apart from the Lung Chun school, the yamen - more recently used as an old people's home - and one private house. The clearance gave the Hong Kong Government its ﬁrst taste since 1899 of China's stubborn insistence on claiming jurisdiction over the Walled City, and its last taste of success in achieving its aims relatively peacefully. The 'place of popular resort', however, never materialised, much to Kennedy-Skipton's dismay. When the Japanese occupied Hong Kong during the Second World War, they demolished the last bit of the Walled City's historical identity: its wall. The stone was used, ignominiously, to extend Kai Tak Airport.
But although the Walled City had lost much of its visible prestige, it didn't stop China, after the War, from announcing its intention to reclaim its rights and establish civil courts within the City. Nor did it prevent refugees, ﬂooding into the enclave, from recognising it as a refuge guaranteed protection by China. By 1947 there were 2000 squatters camped in the previously deserted city. The Government decided to act before the situation got out of control.
A British Government document from 1948 described the plan: 'The Secretary of State will recall we attempted to side-step the Chinese claim of jurisdiction over the Kowloon Walled City by proposing that the site be turned into a Garden of Remembrance of Anglo-Chinese trusteeship. But the Chinese would have none of it They made a series of counter-proposals, 'of which the least objectionable seemed to be to make over the whole site as a compound for the official residence of the local representative of the Chinese Government", reported the Government document And no, they would still not give up their claim of jurisdiction.
With negotiations deadlocked. the Hong Kong Government went ahead with its alternative plan: evacuation of the squatters. This time, however, things didn't go as well as they had done in 1934. A week after the squatters had been forcibly expelled and their huts demolished, a riot broke out resulting in several injuries when police tried to stop those who had been evicted from returning. Protests ﬂared up, spreading as far as Shanghai and Canton, where the British Consulate was set ablaze. To prevent Anglo-Chinese relations deteriorating any further, the Government quickly dropped the eviction programme. It marked a turning point in policy from now on, apart from a couple of occasions, the Government was to adopt a largely 'hands-off' approach towards the Walled City.
Left to its own devices, the enclave developed into what the Governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, colourfully described as 'a cesspool of iniquity, with heroin divuns, brothels and everything unsavoury'. Not that this was anything new as far as the City was concerned - unsavoury happenings had been all the rage in the City's suburbs back in the 1890s - but now such iniquity had crept within the boundaries of the walls themselves.
The police tentatively carried out a few raids on the worst offenders, but it was not until 1959 that legal justification for interfering in the Walled City was raised in the Supreme Court. During a murder trial, it was argued that since the accused Wong Hon's alleged offence had been committed inside the Walled City it was beyond British jurisdiction.
The Chief Justice, however, claimed that Chinese jurisdiction was 'merely the jurisdiction appertaining to those ofﬁcials stationed within the City at the time, and the use of the word 'now' [in the 1898 Convention] seems to contemplate the authority appertaining to an individual rather than to an office of a continuing nature'. In other words, Chinese jurisdiction had been only temporary, and was cancelled under the Order in Council of December 1899. 'It appears to us", concluded the Chief Justice, 'that the assertion that the City of Kowloon is an Alsatia, wherein the Queen's Writ does not run, cannot be supported".
There were plenty of ﬂaws in that argument, but the court accepted it and from then on suspects arrested in the City were duly prosecuted. The police went ahead - although still cautiously - with more raids on the City's notorious drugdens. 'The police didn't dare come in except in bands of 40 men together', one of the City's ﬁrst post-war missionaries, Mrs Donnithorne, recalled in 1970. 'There were opium dens lining all the narrow lanes and you could see drug addicts openly smoking. lt was a hideout for every criminal. ln those days, the bodies of many drug addicts would be left lying in the streets Some days there would be so many bodies you could hardly walk through. They used to put the bodies near two or three lavatories and in the morning the Government truck would come and take them away. "
In these wretched years of the 1950s and '60s, missionaries such as Mrs Donnithorne, Maureen Clarke and Jackie Pullinger were among the few people offering regular assistance to the residents of the Walled City. It was only after another eviction incident in 1963 that a Kai Fong (neighbourhood association) Welfare Promotion Committee was ofﬁcially established, but its role was largely political, aimed at unifying the residents to ﬁght for their rights. Real power increasingly lay with the four main Triad societies - the 14K, King Yee, Sun Yee On and Yee Kwun - who controlled the brothels, gambling and drug dens.
The 1963 incident was yet another mismanaged attempt by the Government to demolish some of the huts in a corner of the Walled City to make way for the Tung Tau resettlement estate. The Government 'who apparently had Iearnt nothing from the experience of 1934-5', recalled Kennedy-Skipton, 'attempted to compel [the residents] to move with-out compensation... and failed owing to the vigorous opposition of the occupants '.
This opposition had been promptly organised by a 'Kowloon City Anti-Demolition Committee' - the foundation for the Kai Fong - and duly supported by China who protested at 'this truculent act by the British authorities", and claimed that 'the city of Kowloon is China's territory and within Chinese jurisdiction and this has all along been so in history". Signiﬁcantly, China made no mention of the 1898 Convention; since the Communist Government regarded the treaty as 'unequal', any demand for the recognition of China's right to jurisdiction in the Walled City according to the Convention would have implied acceptance of Britain's right to occupy the rest of the New Territories. As a matter of saving face and national pride, it had to support the belligerent Walled City residents, but as P. Jones, the author of a 1969 Hong Kong guidebook, observed, 'it could hardly have enjoyed taking up the cudgels on their behalf'. When China stepped up its protest at the 'gross violation of China's sovereignty", the Hong Kong Government once again backed down. While rejecting the Chinese claim to sovereignty, it agreed to defer, 'for the time being, action in the Kowloon Walled City".
It was back to business as usual in the drug dens of the rat-infested City, though a further ﬂutter of political skirmishing occurred when the Kai Fong decided to celebrate the third anniversary of their 1963 victory by raising the Communist Chinese flag from the roof of their ofﬁce building. The top-floor tenant objected, scuffles broke out and the police were called. Agreement was ﬁnally reached, but the comments of a Kai Fong leader, reported in The Star at the time, reveal just how sensitive the question of political loyalty to China had become. 'As long as the Communist ﬂag is ﬂying here", said Liu Kan, 'Peking knows it's their duty to protect us. They will look after us. This is part of China. The Walled City will never become part of Hong Kong. One day Hong Kong will become part of us - mainland China. '
Surprisingly, however, there was little trouble from the Walled City during the 1967 Cultural Revolution-inspired riots, nor the following year when the police carried out an unprecedented number of raids - 905 within the first five months of the year, with 732 arrests it did not stop the City's trade in vice, of course, since most dens re-opened once the raids were over, or were quickly alerted to the presence of police by the hundreds of 'lookouts' posted at strategic points in the alleys. 'The Walled City remains the vice centre of Hong Kong... with an estimated 5000 drug addicts', the Hongkong Standard remarked tartly in June 1968. 'The only difference [since the raids] is that many drug operators have gone underground. '
But by 1970, when two old cannon were unearthed in the Walled City, giving rise to claims by some residents that they were the property of mainland China, both the Government and the Kai Fong decided to play it cool. 'The Government has side-stepped a ticklish row', reported The Star, 'by deciding it is not interested in [the cannon] anyway.'The Kai Fong put it more directly. 'They are not very important", said the acting chairman, 'and if we move them away, leftist elements will take the chance to make a row.'So the cannon remained where they were, 'in a grim, dark and dirty alley', a feature of future tourist visits to the City just as they had been over a century earlier.
Leftist elements had their chance to make trouble the following year, however, when they tried to take over the former yamen, an old people's home which was being transferred to the Christian Nationals' Evangelism Commission for use as a school. After the police supervised the transfer, foiling the takeover attempt, the Hong Kong authorities waited for the usual protests from China. But nothing was said. Attitudes, at last. were starting to change.
At this time, according to the 1971 census, there were 10,004 people occupying 2185 dwellings in the Walled City, though unofﬁcial estimates put the population much higher. (By the late 1980s there were more than 35,000 residents) Many were descendants of the original Chiu Chow pig farmers or post-war immigrants They worked as traders, coolies, shopkeepers and factory workers - especially in the plastics industry. Many also ran illegal clinics within the confines of the City as unregistered doctors and dentists Îhe medical authorities didn't interfere with their practices Nor did the Education Department supervise the schools within the City, nor the Rating and Valuation Department demand rates on properties Although the 1959 case against Wong had clearly established that the Walled City was by law, subject to Hong Kong regulations like any other part of the territory, the hands-off policy was still widespread among Government departments Only a select few demonstrated Britain's tentative claim to jurisdiction, while the People's Republic of China made no show of jurisdiction at all.
Hong Kong's Urban Services Department was the most visible. chlorinating the four registered water wells several times a day, collecting rubbish and night-soil, and investigating infectious diseases. But it never prosecuted residents for dumping refuse in the street. Education and advice was the preferred softly-softly approach. Similarly, though warning notices were issued, health regulations were not enforced. The Post Office delivered mail, a job only for the fit and fearless, the Social Welfare Department provided social services, and the Labour Department registered factories in the area and attempted to enforce safety and working regulations. The Inland Revenue Department even taxed the income and profits of those residents working outside the City. Perhaps the strictest controls were maintained by the Public Works Department against buildings which obstructed airport flight paths, and by the Fire Services Department, which prosecuted offenders and seized dangerous goods.
There was little either department could do, however, to reduce the overall hazards of the tightly-packed and dangerously-built slum. As for the police, their spokesman claimed in 1970 that 'action has been and will continue to be taken against any illegal activities in the Walled City, like any other places in the Colony. But it was only a few years later, when relations between Peking and London grew warmer, and visits to the City by Hong Kong and British government officials - including a very shocked Governor - increased, that they launched a serious drive against the 'cesspool of iniquity'. From 1973 to '74, they made an unprecedented 3685 raids and 2580 arrests, seizing nearly 500 pounds of heroin and 3891 pounds of opium. The sustained activity represented a major shift in Hong Kong's policies towards the City. 'We've been walking a tight-rope for years", said a police source after the raids. 'and we're still treading carefully. [But] we're no longer satisﬁed in just keeping the lid on vice and criminal activity. We've stepped up our attacks on the City more than ever in the past year. '
The reaction from most of the residents was generally positive. A younger generation was beginning to inﬂuence opinion within the City, dissipating the fierce political loyalties of the older residents. The main concerns now were for better living conditions. particularly a proper water supply, safe housing, and crime-free streets. There was a growing ofﬁcial recognition that these new attitudes held the key to change: 'The answer to an improved environment lies largely with the inhabitants', suggested a newspaper editorial in June 1974. 'When they are ready to cooperate with the Government, improvements can be made more swiftly. In the absence of a political solution that would permit mare rapid measures to be taken, the slow and steady nibbling at the fringes will have to continue.' Slow and steady it was. In 1980, a 21-strong Walled City and neighbouring Sai Tau patrol unit was established, with a seven-man team on 24-hour duty. Although Triads were still active (in 1980 a Triad gang boss threatened to 'chop up' anyone who dared oppose a rise in fees for the sale of illegally tapped water), by 1983 the Kowloon City district's police commander maintained that the crime rate within the Walled City was 'no higher than that of other parts of Kowloon City'.
Organised drug dens and vice syndicates were no longer a major problem, he said: minor robberies had taken their place. The sin was going out of the City. In 1983, 50 street lamps were erected by the Kowloon City district board. Light was coming to the City of Darkness.
In August of the same year, China's senior representative in Hong Kong, Xinhua News Agency bureau chief, Xu Jiatun, made an unprecedented visit to the Walled City, praising the local Welfare Promotion Committee - rather ironically, considering the sordid state of the place - for doing 'a good job in self-administration' The Kai Fong's president, Cheung Yat Fan, was delighted by this symbolic show of concern. Did he think Xu would now reinforce China's claim to jurisdiction, protecting the residents from the Hong Kong Government's increasing presence? Did he want Xu to raise the red ﬂag and tell the Government to keep their hands off China's territory? No. He hoped Xu would help them get a piped water supply. 'Although the Hang Kong Government has bettered our living environment in recent years', he said tactfully, 'there is still plenty of room far improvement. '
Not long afterwards, Hong Kong's Acting Governor, Sir Phillip Haddon-Cave, also paid a visit to Kowloon City, though, diplomatically, he only skirted the edge of the Walled City. Nonetheless, speculation ran high that something was about to happen. Slow and steady, still treading carefully, the Government bided its time. ln 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong was signed. It provided the impetus needed to solve the Walled City problem once and for all. The people, too, were ready: 'Times have changed', confirmed Law Hio Cheung, a founding member of the Kai Fong, in 1986. 'We don 't say 'we have to defend Chinese territory with our lives' any more. Nowadays it's the economic well-being of the people that is most important'.
The announcement, made at 9am on 14 January 1987, came without warning; the Government was to clear the Walled City, compensate eligible residents and develop the area into a park. Fifteen minutes later, a similar announcement was made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing. An actual improvement of the living environment of the Kowloon Walled City not only accords with the vital interests of the inhabitants within the Kowloon Walled ûty, but also with the interests of the Hong Kong inhabitants as a whole' No mention was made of the 1898 Convention. nor of jurisdiction claims The only reference to the Walled City's tangled political past was in the Ministry's last words 'like other parts of Hang Kong', it said pointedly. 'the Kowloon Walled City is a question left over from history' No one, even now, was giving any answers. But a solution had ﬁnally been found.
Yau Lap Cheong lived near the City continuously from 1928 - the year he ﬁrst arrived from Chiu Yeung, in China. at the age of 20 - until the day he moved out in 1990, during the fîrst phase of the clearance.
When I first arrived 62 years ago, there was no one living here. There was just a church and an old people's home. Three cannons guarded the entrance to the Walled City.
The Japanese arrived after I'd been here a dozen years or more. Those bastards demanded they be saluted wherever you saw them. They could be anywhere and often you just wouIdn't notice them in time. Then, suddenly, they might shout an order for you to stop and they'd make you stand to attention on the spot for one or even two days. The slightest resistance could mean you might be cut to pieces.
l've been around the City for some 30 or 40 years. We took over the store for $ l3,000, though this included several thousand dollars' worth of stock in cigarettes and about a $I000 worth of medicine. A friend of mine was selling cigarettes to the people frequenting the gambling dens nearby. He decided it was too much work for him, so he handed me the business. Before I opened the store I worked as a foreman in a clothing factory.
My elder and younger brothers also joined in, and I rented the space - which was about 70 square feet - for S 6 a month. There was a dance hall, gambling dens, and many opium dens and 'red pill' parlours on the same street. Business was good but the customers were a mixed bunch, pretty rough. Outside the City you could sell orange juice for only $1 a glass; here we could sell the same for $2. We sold peeled water chestnuts at $5 for ﬁve or $I0 for I0, when a whole box only cost us slightly more than $20! We also sold pineapple slices for $4 or $5 which really cost I0 to 20 cents! And people paid; they never bargained! We made good money - about $5000 to $6000 a month.
We bought our goods, our dried food and rice and so on, from Nam Pak Hong over on Hong Kong side. We had to buy in bulk then. We were one of the few stores in the City. People would call around for protection money. I didn't pay, because il you paid once then that was it. Ol course, they had their eyes and ears open and they Iearnt of our connections. I knew one of the top policemen, Leung. He was a good friend. He came around on Sundays, usually with I0 or so of his mates to eat noodles.
The biggest Triad organisation was the Sun Yee On. There was also the l4K, of course, many of whose soldiers came from Guangzhou. The so-called 'big brothers' around here were the toughs who'd made it without being chopped to death! There were loads of gangs; in fact, wherever youngsters gathered, there was a gang! The gang leaders were usually the guys who had been involved in fights and had got injured.
Their blood had been let and they were regarded as brave. In those days, of course, people didn't fight to kill. Once blood was drawn, the fight stopped. This street was once extremely rough. A foreign reporter was killed outside the dance hall near here. No one was particularly concerned about murders in the Walled City then. In the same way, there was often dog meat hung up along the street as if it was pork. No one really bothered. People engaged in all kinds of illegal businesses. Outside the City you'd hear people say: "Don't go into the Walled City. You'll be slaughtered!" For many years people didn't dare enter!
While I was running the store, I fell ill and had to go into hospital. lt took a year or so to get well again. When I went back to the store, though, I found I had to work 18 hours a day. My younger brother and I were supposed to take I2-hour shifts, but he'd be playing mahjong and would refuse to take over. We were open 24 hours a day then, because the dance hall and all the other places were also open day and night. There was no electricity; we had to use gaslights.
My younger brother was a gambler; once he started he just couldn't stop. He always lost. He became a heroin dealer. I told him that he shouldn't be doing that, and I warned him that l'd inform the police. He stopped eventually. Actually, next to our stall was a manufacturer. Heroin cost just 20 cents a packet- and a big packet too! At one stage, the drug dens were all closed down. There was a warning system. The telephone inside was connected to one outside. One call would be a warning. If there was a call and the place was still raided, the 'company' in charge of the phone would give compensation.
The whole street was full of heroin dealers. There was a makeshift building nearby from which heroin was sold; it paid out protection money of anything up to $I0,000 a day. There'd be no arrests at that stall - only people from outside the City were arrested.
There were lots of buyers as well. Some resorted to injecting; an addict could look worse than someone whose flesh had been fried in oil. Things were so bad that the police eventually came to sweep the area clean. Then the dens moved upstairs. When the police first began signing their duty books on Tai Chang Street, these businesses were severely affected. This happened not so long ago.
You could not roam around in the Walled City, as you do now, until just a few years back. Now you can walk about with gold jewellery and no one will turn their head. There used to be a time, on Tai Yau Street, when a gold necklace was an invitation to be robbed.
There is a lot less prostitution now. Just opposite this place there used to be a number of whorehouses. You can only see a couple of prostitutes left nowadays. There were once so many - in one house alone there'd be I0 or even more.
lquit running the store five or six years ago. My brother couldn't shake his gambling; he would just watch when he was there and things would be stolen or disappear. I didn't want my nephew or niece to get stuck with that, so for their own good I told them they had to go out and find jobs. l've survived these past few years on money given to me by my nephew and niece.
I still own a flat on the fifth floor too, and that pays me $I000 in rent each month. I don't need a lot of money. Over the past six or seven years I've spent most of my time in this room. I don't go out; I don't know anyone now. l don't care. Anyway, going out means spending money. l often listen to the radio. For a while, l couldn't get Radio 5 and I lost my Cantonese opera. so I spent a few hundred dollars on a new one. Five or six months ago, I applied for admission to an old people's home with the help of a social welfare agency. I think the timing is just right.
Born in 1951. Chu Yiu Shan was brought up and spent much of his adult life in the Walled City. He operated as a property developer and estate agent for many years, only moving to Junk Bay when the clearance was announced.
My parents ran a store and, when l was about 13 years old, I began delivering drinks to nearby establishments. These included some specialising in opium, 'red pills', gambling and sex shows. The Walled City was very prosperous then, with a great concentration of activity around Tai Chang Street. A lot of Japanese tourists came to see the shows, as well as a few big movie stars. Other stars came for the dog meat. The police would also come, take off their hats and collect bribes from the gambIing and drug dens.
l got involved in the property business to serve as an intermediary between sellers and buyers. I had seen a lot of cheating, with people running off with deposits by 'selling' properties which did not belong to them. I remember one old woman, for example, who owned a flat and rented it out. When she died, the people renting claimed it was theirs. There were no deeds and the dead woman's family, being strangers to the Walled City, were powerless to do anything. As a resident who had lived in the City for many years, I was in a good position to find out who the real owners were. I knew the people who 'released' the water, and they helped me identify who had built which properties.
I used to earn around $20,000 a month through my property business, which became the biggest in the Walled City. People entrusted their flats to me. They would ask for a certain price and, if I considered it to be reasonable, I would try and sell the property on their behalf. I would renovate and clean the place a little.
Since the 1965, the Kai Fong Association has helped to draw up deeds for property transactions. I have sometimes acted as witness. There are altogether three companies that deal with the buying and selling of flats here. There are some other companies but they don't really handle property transactions; they are just places where residents can pay their rent and water charges, so that the collectors don't have to chase all over the place.
Water was the main hardship for people living here. The people who 'released' water would sometimes lock the main tap and disappear for a few days, before confronting the residents of a block with the news that the pump had malfunctioned and that $30O would have to be collected from each unit to fix it. Many of these well owners were habitual gamblers - when they lost at the casinos in Macau, they would just stop the water.
Everyone knew that water was also stolen from the Government supply. The largest main ran beneath the Lung Heung cafe. There were some people 'releasing' water there, but they were forced to negotiate after the Triads heard about it and demanded protection money.
The water that comes from the wells often looks like drain-water and is usually undrinkable; people would probably die if they had to drink it. So who would have bought a flat in the Walled City if there hadn't been proper tap water? Arrangements were made to allow drinking water to be 'diverted' to special wells and tanks on the roof, and from there through pipes to all the main apartments. Some builders made several connections to ensure a 24- hour supply, but this is not the case in most blocks.
The people who 'released' water are now receiving $200,000 in compensation for their wells, but the so-called 'poor electricity companies' will get nothing. They used to steal electricity from the mains for people living in the City - factories and so on would pay a bill of only a few hundred dollars a month, when their consumption actually amounted to $1000 or more.
I don't want to tell you exactly how much compensation I am receiving from the Government. lt is similar to the dentists who have got a good deal. Let's face it - not very many of them do that much business. I wonder if some would even reach a turnover of $30,000 a year. Now, everyone - the stores, the beef-ball maker and the like - wants to be compensated like the dentists, so they have stayed put.
The demolition of the Walled City will be the end of everything. I only hope that I can get a hawker's licence.
City of DarknessLife in Kowloon Walled City
Greg GirardIan Lamblot
1993Watermark Publications (UK)
HONG KONG : Self-organizing Architecture niche