Hong Kong Book Fair

Hong Kong Book Fair treat gives Tin Shui Wai pupils a rare glimpse of the big city

More than 1,000 pupils made a rare trip to Hong Kong Island to experience the week-long Hong Kong Book Fair, which closes today

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 July, 2015, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2015, 3:27am

Among the crowds enjoying the book fair last week were slightly over a thousand people for whom just being on Hong Kong Island was a treat in itself.

They were pupils from Yuen Long Public Middle School Alumni Association Ying Yip Primary School and some parents from Tin Shui Wai, the remote new town in the northwest New Territories that has become known for its social and economic problems.

The visit to the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai was a rare and welcome opportunity to see the sights, thanks to a programme by the fair’s organiser, the Trade Development Council, the St James’ Settlement charity and developer Sun Hung Kai Properties.

Teacher Poon Ka-fai said: “They rarely get a chance to go so far out into the city. On the bus here we pointed out to students Lai Yuen [the old amusement park that has been temporarily resurrected in Central] and the Ferris wheel. When Occupy was happening, the students weren’t sure where the protests were.”

They said they’ve never seen such a big harbour before
Teacher Poon Ka-fai

It was the eighth time that low-income pupils had been invited to the book fair. Poon, who has led the trips for three years, said pupils ate their lunch by the windows so they could enjoy the view.

“It’s very rare that they get a view of Victoria Harbour when having lunch. It’s really amazing for them. They’re very surprised at how beautiful the skyline is,” Poon said. “This made the students very happy and they said they’ve never seen such a big harbour before.”

The youngsters were each given HK$250 to spend, which nine-year-old Jackey Wong Tsan-cheuk said would go on brain teasers and supplementary exercise books.

His mother, Lo Pui-chai, who was also enjoying the day out, said the family rarely had such money to spare. “We can only go to the library because books are expensive,” she said.

Lo, a housewife, brought her son to the book fair last year too, but mainly to show him what it was like – they could only stand and watch the visitors buying in bulk.

Poon said trips to the book fair really broadened pupils’ horizons and in previous years his pupils were inspired by Lego machines and devices at the fair, which encouraged them to be more active and come up with advanced designs in the school’s Lego activities.

The activity is educational by design: before students go to the fair, organisers remind them that they are not allowed to buy comics, figurines, plush toys or more than HK$50 worth of stationery.

And they all know who their benefactor is and how to say “Sun Hung Kai Properties”.

The Trade Development Council gave away 30,000 book fair tickets to various charities.