Hong Kong’s Little Thailand

Before there was Gold Mountain — the promised land of North America — Chinese immigrants flocked to Southeast Asia, where they settled in countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Eventually, they came to dominate the regional economy, earning themselves scorn from some of the local native populations. 90 years ago, Thailand’s King Rama VI called them the “Jews of the East,” a sentiment that has been echoed more recently by political leaders in Malaysia, where Chinese make up more than a quarter of the population.

In the 1980s and 90s, some of these overseas Chinese began to move to Hong Kong, another step in generations of migrations across Asia. They make up the bulk of Hong Kong’s Thai population, which numbers around 30,000. Many Thai-Chinese are literate in Thai but not Chinese, and their culture is an interesting amalgam of Thai and Chinese traditions. A couple of months ago, I visited Hong Kong’s largest Thai neighbourhood in Kowloon City, where they are served by restaurants, grocery stores, karaoke bars and beauty parlours.

You can see the fruits of my visit on CNNGo or in the extended photo collection above.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Thursday May 27 2010at 11:05 pm , filed under Asia Pacific, Society and Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “Hong Kong’s Little Thailand”

  • C. Szabla says:

    What surprised me about this area (Kowloon City) in general was how midrise it was compared to other densely built-up areas of Hong Kong. It has the scale of Paris rather than Mongkok or Hong Kong Island, and from the top of the hill on Prince Edward Rd. even sort of evokes San Francisco.

  • Maybe not for long. Now that the old airport is being redeveloped, property prices in Kowloon City are going up and towers are popping up all over. The pace of redevelopment around here is insane. Today I just found out that virtually every single pre-1970 building on my block is slated for demolition.