Neighbourhood Sounds

Take a walk with SCMP reporters through Hong Kong's diverse communities in the Neighbourhood Sounds series. 

Skyscrapers of Victoria Harbour - built to display wealth and power

The king of the skyline is the ICC tower, which stretches up 490 metres above sea level with its 118 storeys. Photo: Felix Wong

Hong Kong is an architects' playground. Against a backdrop of steep hills and framing the city's crown jewel that is Victoria Harbour stand impossibly tall structures, packed as tightly as trees in a jungle - a testament to wealth and power.

Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 6:02pm

Hongkongers cherish shoreline memories of Victoria Harbour (video)

The Star Ferry used to be the only way to cross the harbour. Photo: Nora Tam

The tram tracks once ran along Hong Kong Island's shoreline and where Tsim Sha Tsui's row of seafront hotels now lies, was the landmark shipping terminal "Blue Funnel", where sampans and tugboats crowded the waterfront.

22 May 2013 - 5:48pm 2 comments

Tai O: The Venice of Hong Kong is stilt standing

The stilt houses of Tai O are an iconic feature. Photo: Nora Tam

Weathered by storms, hit by landslides and threatened by Hong Kong's rapid change and development, Tai O's locals rely on their own resources to survive.

The 3,000 residents left out of a village population that once reached 30,000 have been using their history and culture to carve out a new way of life - without much help from the government.

10 Jul 2013 - 10:16am

Kowloon City: from 'den of evil' to lush gardens

 A shop sells Thai spices - many Thais have moved into the area. Photo: May Tse

Growing up in the Kowloon Walled City, Albert Ng Kam-po and his friends would go to the roof and fly kites that could almost scrape the bellies of airliners as they descended to Kai Tak airport across the street.

"We didn't know it was so dangerous," says Ng, 45, a pastor at the English-speaking Island Evangelical Community Church in Quarry Bay.

10 Jul 2013 - 10:17am

Ma Wan: an island losing heritage to modernity

Ma Wan's dwindling fish farms today are overlooked by Park Island, a private housing estate. Photo: Thomas Yau

Ma Wan is a bit of an anomaly. Measuring a little less than a square kilometre, the island is a hodge-podge of structures chronicling different eras.

28 Dec 2012 - 5:21am

Coloane's old world charms still beating strong

A stall selling preserved seafood on Estrada de Lai Chi Vun in Coloane. The island was originally a sea salt farm and home to fishermen. Photo: Nora Tam

As Macau celebrated its 13th anniversary of the handover yesterday, long-time Coloane residents like Choi looked back to a time when the former Portuguese colony was home to many hardworking fishermen.

21 Dec 2012 - 1:50pm 2 comments

Stanley: It was tough for the colonial convicts

Lee Yuk-lun offers expertise at the Correctional Services Museum. Photo: Dickson Lee

The room went silent as the cane came down with a sharp crack on a hard wooden surface. That's what used to happen to prisoners in Hong Kong's jails, said a museum guide to a fascinated group of pupils. He had their full attention.

14 Dec 2012 - 2:45pm

Characters who have spent time in Stanley prison

Out on a bluff just 20 minutes' walk from the tourist hordes of Stanley Market, sits Stanley Prison - home to some of the city's most colourful criminals.

The Gangster: Yip Kai-foon "Teeth Dog"

14 Dec 2012 - 3:50am

Jordan, home to a battling Nepali community

Nepalese beauty shop owner Lama Mima Sambu gives community worker Caroline Simick a quick trim. Photo: Felix Wong

Tourists and shoppers throng Nathan Road. But life is very different in the densely populated blocks down to the site of the former Jordan Road pier. In the day, elderly Chinese men lean on their canes, sitting in Jordan's small public parks, while shrieking children play.

7 Dec 2012 - 3:53am

Tsing Yi's history is a bridge to the past

The island is still home to many elderly residents after its huge redevelopment in public housing and infrastructure. Photo: SCMP

With its well-developed transport hubs, public amenities and fresh air, many Hongkongers may see Tsing Yi as an ideal place in which to live and raise a family.

Sixty years ago, however, while the air would have been even fresher, transport was much less convenient: the only way off the island was a one-hour trip by rowing boat to Tsuen Wan.

30 Nov 2012 - 3:26am

Memories of a haven for Nationalists

Former Rennie's Mill resident Chik Sung-wun surveys Tiu Keng Leng. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Chik Sung-wun's earliest memories of the high-rise town where he now lives are of a hill-fringed valley of squatter huts where Nationalist flags flew freely.

Then known as Rennie's Mill, now Tiu Keng Leng - a reference to the suicide of its former namesake - the valley was a refuge for Kuomintang soldiers who fled the mainland after losing the civil war to the Communists.

23 Nov 2012 - 2:48am

Sai Kung, the friendly town where everyone's a local

Locals buying fish from sampans tied up at Sai Kung pier. Photo: Dickson Lee

In Sai Kung town centre everyone is a local, even though some might not look it.

"We are locals in all aspects," says Guy Shirra, a retired expatriate police superintendent who has lived in Hong Kong since 1967 and speaks fluent Cantonese. "Our wives are from here, our children were born here."

16 Nov 2012 - 3:58am

Generic Sha Tin estate City One gets some colour from mainland students

A cycle track near City One.

City One could have come straight out of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its setting in a place called Airstrip One. With 51 towering white-and-green blocks, the residential complex in Sha Tin is as nondescript as its name.

9 Nov 2012 - 3:57am

Artists inspired by old-world charm of Yau Ma Tei

Fruit wholesalers packing up stock on Reclamation Street at Yau Ma Tei fruit market at 6:20am. Photo: Nora Tam

In the early 1900s, Yau Ma Tei was a port and major food distribution point for all of Hong Kong.

Since then, the old neighbourhood could have become decayed and succumbed to redevelopment, as has Jordan to its south, or a tourist haunt with jacked-up rents like Mong Kok to the north.

6 Nov 2012 - 12:05pm

At the village called The Very End, locals fear the end of peace

The rich marine life on the Lung Mei coast. Photo: Nora Tam

At the eastern tip of the Tai Po district, near the Plover Cove reservoir, lies a picturesque spot that is popular with holidaymakers.

Like many other undeveloped parts of Hong Kong, however, Tai Mei Tuk's natural beauty and serenity has proved to be its curse.

26 Oct 2012 - 8:45pm