Thursday, 17 April 2014

Inside the Walled City of Kowloon


Inside the walled city of Kowloon, there were 50,000 residents eked out a grimly living in the most densely populated place on earth. The city was a phenomenon with 33,000 families and business living in more than 300 interconnected high rise buildings, all constructed without the contribution of a single architect. Canadians Greg Girard (The photographer)and his partner Ian Lambot spent 5 years slogged to discover and got themselves familiar with the Chinese city before it was demolished in 1992. The result of their hard-work was the turning up of these stunning, fascinating pictures cleverly and brilliantly captured on the daily life of the people and their neighbourhood.

Kowloon walled city was notorious for crimes and drugs but most of the residents there lived peacefully until it was demolished in early 90s.
 
Canadian photographer Greg Girard and Ian Lambot spent 5 years getting to know the residents and taking pictures of the densely populated buildings.
Mr Liu the postman was assigned to begin work there in 1976; he had no choice but to go. He was one of the very few people knew the in and out of the walled city. He wore a hat to protect him from the constant drippings.
The shrieks of children playing on rooftops were familiarly drowned out by the sounds of jet engines as aircrafts powered through their last 100 meters on the runway of Kai Tak Airport.
For many people living in the upper levels of the city, the roof was an invaluable sanctuary. There it was a lung of fresh air and escape from the claustrophobia of the windowless flats below.
The city, lit up during the night was the scene of the movie Crime Story starring Jackie Chan and included the real scene of building exploding.
A Kowloon Walled City resident who was dissatisfied with compensation pay-outs from the government sat on a pavement in protest as police began the clearing operation.  
Food processors admitted they moved into the walled city to benefit from the low rents and to seek refuge from the jurisdiction of government health and sanitary inspectors.
A work place during the day would turn into a living room at night when Hui Tung Choy's wife and two daughters joined him at his noodle business. The children's play and homework space was a flour-encrusted work bench. 
Law Yu Yi, aged 90, lived in a small and humid 3rd floor flat with her son's wife off Lung Chun First Alley. The arrangement is typical of traditional Chinese values in which the daughter-in-law look after her aged in laws.
Grocery store owner Chan Pak, 60, in his tiny Lung Chun Back Road. He has a passion for cats, and owned 7 of them when this picture was taken.  
This hairdresser put curlers in a customer's hair at a saloon in the walled city. Many people still lived there despite drugs and crime problems.
A child with a grazed knee sat on the counter top in a tiny shop that sold essentials like toilet paper and canned foods. Cigarettes were also displayed in a cabinet.
The area was made up of 300 high-rise interconnected buildings, built without the contribution of any architect, and ungoverned by Hong Kong's health and safety regulations.
Thousands of people went about their lives daily with many making do with what space they had to grow plants or hand wash on their balconies above the busy shops and streets below.
A rooftop view of the city at night which showed just few of the thousand of TV aerials installed on top of the buildings.
Over time, both the British and Chinese governments found the massive, anarchic city to be increasingly intolerable, despite the low reported crime rate in recent years.
Workers-not restricted by health and safety
regulations prepared their fish for sale.
 A wall in a home adorned with clocks
and pictures of relatives.
Daylight barely penetrated the rubbish-strewn grille over the city's Tin Hau Temple which was built in 1951 in an alley off Lo Yan Street.
The government spent around HK$2.7 Billion in compensation to the estimated 33,000 families and businesses. Some were not satisfied and tried to stop the evacuations.


Alan CY Kok

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