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Charities, religious societies, and other welfare groups were gradually introduced to the City. While medical clinics and schools went unregulated, the Hong Kong government did provide some services, such as water supply and mail delivery.
With public support, particularly from younger residents, the continued raids gradually eroded drug use and violent crime.
Early 1970s, via richardwonghk on Flickr.
In 1983, the police commander of the Kowloon City District declared the Walled City’s crime rate to be under control.
Early 1980s, via richardwonghk on Flickr.
Around 33,000 people were estimated to live in the Walled City by 1987. With 1,255,000 inhabitants per square kilometre, it was the densely populated area to ever exist.
1980s, via richardwonghk on Flickr.
Electricity was stolen from the mains, postmen assigned numbers to dwellings themselves and inorganic waste was transferred to rooftops. Only two buildings had elevators and the average passageway was only four feet wide.
1986, via richardwonghk on Flickr.
By 1987 there were 67 functioning wells – only 8 government standpipes existed (with the first being installed in 1963). One of these was actually within the city while the remaining 7 stood at the perimeter – these provided potable water.
1990s, via richardwonghk on Flickr.
“It was also, arguably, the closest thing to a truly self-regulating, self-sufficient, self-determining modern city that has ever been built” – Leung Ping Kwan, City of Darkness.
Despite declining crime, the quality of life in the City was far behind the rest of the territory, particularly with regards to sanitation. The Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 laid the groundwork for the City’s demolition. Its demolition was finally announced in 1987…
1990s, by Greg Girard and Ian Lambot.
The only area in HK comparable to what once stood in Kowloon City is Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui.
16 hours on one of Hong Kong’s overnight casino cruise boats.
On a Friday night, the touts are out in full force on the Kowloon waterfront, peddling their tickets to board the casino ships floating in the harbor. They target mainly Chinese men, honing in on their customers with leaflets a-plenty, quoting 400, 500 Hong Kong dollars for night of gambling, karaoke, and room and board.
“Want to go on a cruise and play for the night?” asks a middle-aged woman wearing a flowery shirt, thrusting a business card into a reporter’s hands.
Hong Kong strictly regulates gambling. The mainstay, horse racing, is a multi-billion-dollar business (overseen by the Jockey Club) that brings in massive tax surpluses for the government. The handful of casino ships get around the strict regulations by shuttling guests 12 nautical miles out into international waters, where a ship’s flag determines laws that apply.
They have an unsavory reputation, including links to triads and prostitution, reports local media (link in Chinese). The perceived lawlessness of “international waters” makes gambling on board, miles from shore and far from any law enforcement, seem much more shady than heading over to glittering Macau. To see how well that reputation matched reality, we spent a night afloat.
Hong Kong from the deck of the Rex Fortune. (Kevin Lau)
On a misty April night, a motley crew of passengers boards the Rex Fortune , a 600-passenger cruise ship. Most speak Cantonese and have Hong Kong IDs, but about a third appear to be from mainland China.
They’re mostly men and women in their later years, with leathery skin, flowery tops, and puffy jackets to keep the chill of a foggy night at bay, with a few young, fresh-faced women in lightly bedazzled denim two-piece outfits mixed in.
On board is a kitschy wonderland of grey marble, gaudy gold trims, and bold patterned carpets. The hallway features pictures of the ship’s facilities—casino, karaoke nightclub, bar, massage room, hairdresser, Mahjong room, slots machines, and even a gym.
Plenty of free treadmills. (Christy Choi)
“Oh we’re living in a world of fools…” a live female voice croons as guests wait to have their ID checked by the solitary immigration official. It’s not the first time that we’ll hear the Bee Gees. The official collects passenger identification and hands it to the ship’s staff, who hold it until we disembark.
As we head to the dining hall, the lead singer of the band, with her Jay Chow lookalike guitarist, moves on to “Tennessee Waltz,” that golden oldie beloved by aunties and uncles in Asia, before moving on to other covers.
All the hits. (Kevin Lau)
Rather than a den of iniquity, the boat feels like an extravagant floating retirement home. The massage parlor and hairdressers below deck, with their soft sea-green walls and chandeliers, wouldn’t feel out of place in an Amelia Island, Florida condo complex.
At around 8:30pm, the boat leaves its mooring in eastern Victoria Harbor. It sails past the eastern reaches of Hong Kong and slides into the inky darkness of international waters. The fog obscures most of the light from Hong Kong’s usually resplendent skyline, and an eerie silence gives way to the sound of sloshing waves.
Theflattierthebetter #Flatty #Innocent