For decades I’ve been obsessed with the concept of the Kowloon Walled City, a slum of cramped apartment buildings that surrounded an old Chinese yamen, or government building, not too far from the old Kai Tak Airport. The history is absolutely fascinating, and for more about it check out the book, City of Darkness.
The walled city was torn down (1992) a year after I left Hong Kong the first time and rebuilt (1995) into a traditional Chinese park a year after I returned to live in Hong Kong. Yet I never visited it–until day 3 of my recent Hong Kong trip.
Tom and I took the subway to Lok Fu, which I remember as having shanties along a hillside that I viewed from the bus to the old airport. The shanties are gone now.
The park sign.
Here’s the old yamen.
We stopped to read the timeline of the Kowloon Walled City.
This is a model of what the KWC used to look like. The yamen was in the middle of it all.
Now the area is beautiful with pavilions and water.
The KWC Park is gorgeous and I’m so glad we went out there. Tom enjoyed it, too, and had previously known nothing about its chilling history. After we’d seen most of the park, we enjoyed a peaceful walk back to the subway station.
Then we headed back to Hong Kong Island and met my friend Martha in Wanchai. After delicious dim sum at Metropole, we headed over to Occupy.
Martha helped us check in for our flight before boarding a tram while Tom and I (well, it was really just me) shopped a little more. We bought name chops for our youngest kids and picked those up. The kids got Cantonese names on their chops, but they’re fine in Mandarin, too.
Then I directed us to some Chinese clothing stalls and spent the next hour chatting with a shopkeeper and her friend in a combo of Cantonese and Mandarin. They dressed me in cheongsams, or qipao, traditional Chinese dresses. I ended up buying a floral jacket I can’t wait to wear. A great sport, Tom was exhausted from jet lag, but I never felt more energetic. It was like I’d never left Hong Kong!
We had a couple hours to rest up until we met my college roommates for dinner near our hotel. A perfect day and evening!