150 Years Ago in Hong Kong

Victoria Peak seen from Kellett Island Last week, an exhibition of images by 19th century Scottish photographer John Thomson opened at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, including 22 photos of Hong Kong in the 1860s that have never been exhibited here before. I’ve written a story about the photos and their journey to Hong Kong […]

On the Waterfront: Central Ferry Piers, Cheung Chau Praya

This is the last in a series of three posts about Hong Kong’s waterfront public spaces. Read the first one here and the second here. The promenade that runs for 850 metres along the Central ferry piers is one of the best public spaces in Hong Kong. I suspect this partly by accident. In the […]

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On the Waterfront: Kwun Tong, Ma On Shan

Second in a series of three posts about Hong Kong’s waterfront. Read the first post here. The Kwun Tong promenade opened last year on an industrial stretch of waterfront facing the runway of the old Kai Tak Airport. It’s very short — just 200 metres — but the plan is to continue expanding it until […]

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On the Waterfront: Tsim Sha Tsui

For a city defined by its harbour, Hong Kong has done a remarkable job of blocking people off from it. Highways, private development, cargo yards and storage depots take up more than 60 percent of Victoria Harbour’s shorelines. The rest of the harbourfront is a higgledy-piggledy network of disjointed promenades, some better than others. Luckily, […]

Make Your Own Public Space

No cycling. No ball-playing. No gambling. No remote-controlled vehicles. No walking on the grass. No fun. Hong Kong’s public parks are burdened by so many rules, they end up discouraging the very thing that parks are meant to provide: an escape from the many stresses of urban life. The same is true for many of […]

The Star Ferry’s Long Farewell

Hong Kong people aren’t very sentimental, but when Chan Tsu-wing told me about his life as a coxswain, I noticed a certain wistfulness creep into in his words. “I love my job — it gives me the best view of the city,” he said while piloting the 45-year-old Silver Star across Victoria Harbour. He waved […]

In Hong Kong, Cleaner Water, Dirtier Air

Ronnie Wong’s swimming career began with a dive into Victoria Harbour. In 1968, the 16-year-old competitive swimmer joined hundreds of other men and women in a 1.5-kilometre race from the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui to Queen’s Pier in Central. “The moment I jumped in the water, I didn’t care about anything, just […]

End of the Road

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Paddling Home

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/9378626[/vimeo] It’s not hard to see why Kacey Wong‘s “Paddling Home” is one of the most popular installations at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. It’s a houseboat that looks just like a typical Hong Kong apartment, after all, and anyone who lives here can relate to it. Wong has paid particular […]

The Wild Reclaimed

Tourists usually head to the Avenue of Stars to get their fix of Hong Kong’s famous skyline. But there’s an infinitely more rewarding alternative just a couple of kilometres to the west. Well off the sightseer’s radar and overlooked even by most locals, the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade offers an incomparable 360-degree view of Victoria […]

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Blue Dusk

View towards Kowloon from the Peak

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Emmenez-moi

Sometimes, while taking in a stereotypically southern scene like this, I give into cliché and let my mind drift to Charles Aznavour’s Emmenez-moi: Moi qui n’ai connu toute ma vie Que le ciel du nord J’aimerais débarbouiller ce gris En virant de bord Emmenez-moi au bout de la terre Emmenez-moi au pays des merveilles Il […]

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