By Yan CHIU
Hong Kong – Tai O, located in the northwestern part of Lantau Island, was known as a Tanka village. For generations, the Tanka people in Tai O have lived in the stilt houses and made a living of fishing. As the fishing lifestyle started to die out, the younger generations moved out of Tai O and started working in the downtown now. However, the elder ones continue living here and preserve the distinctive architectural style in Tai O.
Ho Cho Tai, an 80-years-old indigenous people, is one of the elder generations who stay in Tai O. He smiled happily when he talked about the family gathering in Tai O when his daughters and sons, grandchildren and grand-grandchildren come to his stilt house for the holidays. He is so proud that his house can accommodate all of them and he can provide such a good place for them to relax. “I am always prepared for them to come back,” Ho said.
London – It is a different experience to take part in a cycling tour in London instead of the typical sightseeing tour on London’s red double-decker bus. In July 2010, Transport for London’s (TFL’s) Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme started to distribute thousands of bicycles for short-term rental. Currently, locals as well as tourists can set off from 570 docking stations in central areas of London.
For locals, the scheme provides them handy and convenient cycles with low prices. Luke, a London local said he used to ride his own bike but he needs to spend several hundred pounds on routine maintenance per year. He said it is convenient to pick up and save him more time as well as money from maintenance to use the cycle hire scheme. But not every London local is familiar with the scheme; some even don’t know how to use it.
Some tourists have gone through crummy customer experience when they first used the hiring system at the terminals. According the BCH customer satisfaction and usage research, more than 35% of casual users are not satisfied with the terminals. Complicated instructions, system errors with docking points when unlocking the bicycle and locking it back, and more irritably, severe penalties for late return are often encountered by tourists.
As the scheme designed, one can just pay one pound for a less than 30-minute ride. However, it might be difficult for a new comer to find next docking station within 30 minutes. Or it can also be an exciting challenge to start a brand-new journey to discover London. According to the same research, “being outside and enjoying the weather as well as the ease of use are key positives for BCH.” And two-thirds of casual users (within which two in five casuals are tourists) chose to make their trip with BCH because it is fun. Thus it can also be a good new choice to “catch up with the bicycle”.
Special thanks to Melissa Finch, Bradley Hal, Maira Matos, tourists in London; Chaowang Zhang, international student; Gordon and Luke, London locals and Hugo, staff of Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme
Hong Kong – Light bulbs, cables and fans hang from the ceiling of a small store on the side of the street. A man sits in an old chair next to the tiny door, his wrinkled hands buried in a box of shiny silver tools.
Choi Chueng Yuen, 77, has been sitting in this chair almost every day from early morning until afternoon since his retirement.
The products he sells in his store in Wan Chai are former possessions of people he has helped to move out of their apartments. Ties, housewares, memorabilia and old books tell a story about their former owners. Customers rummaging through Choi’s bookshelf might sometimes even find a dinner invitation from the 1980s between the dusty pages of a Harvard Law book.
What the products in the shop don’t tell, however, is Choi’s own story.
Born in Guangdong in China, Choi came to Hong Kong when he was only 13 years old. Those times still hold bittersweet memories for him. “Those days were not easy, but we felt happy,” says his wife.
Working used to be an obligation for Choi. Now he does it for fun. “I could have retired. But I’ve become attached to the old stuff, so I can’t just leave.”
Editing by Yan Chiu, Momo Mao, Evita Li, Solaire Hauser
Special thanks to the Choi family
What would you like to tell if you were asked to tell a story about your childhood memories? In the “Tell Me a Story” book design exhibition, which was held in the library of Hong Kong Baptist University, Kris Lam Kit Ying’s book What Mom Used to Tell Me caught the attention of the audience. It tells real childhood stories of Hong Kong children that were seldom told in books and were different from any children’s tales. By visually interesting words and images, Lam created a story based on her own experience to recall the childhood memories of the audience.
Lam is an art student majoring in digital graphic communication but she used to learn science for a long time. She said learning art changed her life track and gave her more opportunities. Through her works of art, her ideas towards life and society are expressed and conveyed. In the near future, she will finish her graduation project on social problems and try to arouse social concern through her work.
By YAN CHIU
Hong Kong – Leaning against the pillar of the “red number” house, which was marked by red numbers on the outer walls to show the size of the houses and label them as squatter huts, Yueng Fai lit his cigarette and started to talk about his life in Ping Che.
Compared to the Hong Kong city image of skyscrapers, the scenery in Ping Che is totally different — a natural village with luxuriantly green trees, blooming flowers and low village houses with farmlands nearby.
Chard grows in a small piece of field adjacent to Yueng’s house, which he and his family has been living in for five years. Every time when harvest season comes, Yueng reaps chard and shares it with neighbors. He said proudly that the vegetables he grows are more delicious than those in the supermarket, since the seeds were brought from Yingde, a city in Guangdong province.
Yueng is a Cantonese. He came to Hong Kong by boat as a stowaway from mainland China in 1978, aged 22, when friends asked him to join. Recalling this experience, the scene is still vivid in his mind. Yueng said he was very lucky that he came here successfully after just one try, while many others attempted to make it many times in various ways.
His successful landing might be attributed to the good weather, according to Yueng’s memory. They set off on a clear night from a beach in Huidong, a province in Guangdong, and started their way to Hong Kong. The hot and tiring trip took them two nights, until they eventually went ashore at StanleyBeach. All their hands were blistered badly because of ceaseless paddling.
Yueng’s experience is similar to the one of other non-indigenous villagers of Ping Che. And they are now facing the situation that the government is going to take back the land for the North East New Territories New Development Areas Plan. Those who are living in the “red number” houses might have to leave without compensation, as most of them are only tenants instead of landowners, even though some of them have already lived here for decades and have developed the villages.
Yueng said if they were dispossessed of their home in Ping Che, they could hardly find another place to live. He now pays 2,000 Hong Kong dollars for the rent to the landowner per year. Regarding the current housing prices in Kowloon, a single room in Sham Shui Po costs the same price for only one month.
“If the plan gets approved to be carried out, the government should provide us houses to live in and offer us compensation,” Yueng said, “but my biggest wish is to stay here in my home.”
Even though Ping Che is not the hometown of indigenous villagers, they regard the place as their home, which they don’t want to give away without a fight.
Ann Horowitz is an economist from the United States, known to her friends as Nancy. She has been retired from her job as a professor of economics in the University of Florida since 2000. She said she enjoyed being able to do what she wants to do and is still working on economic problems instead of retiring in the sense of sitting at home. Now she is assisting her husband in teaching economics in Hong Kong Baptist University. Horowitz has always liked mathematics and she has received her undergraduate degree in mathematics in the University of Connecticut. When she got a PhD in economics, she also took a minor for mathematics. As a professor of economics, she had been teaching and doing research for years. She also had been working as a senior economist at the White House in 1975 when she left Florida for Washington, which was an unforgettable and exciting working experience for her.