#Tiananmen25 – The June 4th Anniversary Vigil in Victoria Park

Last night, tens of thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to remember the civilians who were brutally murdered in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 25 years ago. The air was somber, but a strong note of anger and frustration ran throughout the proceedings. Together, peacefully, an estimated 180,000 people (or 99,500, according to the police) lit candles, sang songs and chanted slogans demanding justice, while sitting on the ground side by side.

The signs that flank the community leaders on stage say “‘Fight to the end” and “Redress 6/4”. 

People raised their candles in memory of the victims.

People entering the park were greeted by pro-democracy activists seeking donations to support their efforts.

Activists held replicas of the Goddess of Democracy, a 10-meter-tall statue built by arts students to bolster morale when the Tiananmen protests seemed to falter. 

The mood was not always dark; some found joy in the show of solidarity.

A man with a small child holding a poster attracted the journalists’ attention. 

People of all ages and occupations showed up. 

A young girl sits in between her parents. 

A woman reads one of the many pamphlets handed out that night. 

A young boy lights his candle. 

Many in the crowd were too young to remember the Tiananmen massacre as anything more than a historical event. Others however, remembered all too well.

A friend recounts her memories of hearing about the event as a young student in Hong Kong: “Thousands of people protested in Po Leung Kok garden. In class, our teachers showed us video footage and newspaper clippings. We all cried. I was only 9 or 10 years old.”

A monument was erected in the center of the park. A replica of the Goddess of Democracy watched over the vigil. Lyrics were provided to those unfamiliar to the songs sung in unison by the crowds.

A couple of protesters waved the flag of colonial Hong Kong. 

Crowds streamed onto the MTR and onto buses to get home after the vigil ended at around 10pm. 

Never forget.

Shui Tau Tsuen – 水頭村 – “Water Head Village”

In Yuen Long there is the village of Shui Tau Tsuen, where there are old 19th century buildings. This is where my companions and I set out to visit. Our taxi driver was quite apprehensive when we first told him our intended destination.

“Are you visiting someone?”

No…

“Oh. Are you going to that country club there?”

There’s a country club there? No, we’re not. We’re visiting historic monuments!

“….Okay…”

His skepticism was proved to be unfounded when we excitedly and triumphantly pointed at the aged traditional structure in front of us. He shrugged, and let us off, not before he made sure we hopeless tourists/cityfolk  knew which bus to catch back to the nearest MTR station (which was not, as he pointed out, the one where we had gotten into his taxi).

Behold, the Yi Tai Study Hall built by the Tang Clan, which settled in the lands of Kam Tin perhaps as far back as the 11th century. The details of its origins are a bit muddy–it was built around 1840–but all agree that it was built as a place of quiet, peaceful scholarly contemplation. It was officially declared a Hong Kong monument in 1992 and was restored and opened to the public in 1994.

The entrance to the study hall.

The fact that this study hall is a declared monument and almost 200 years old doesn’t stop its next-door neighbor from cozying up to it. 

An overgrown abandoned plot nearby. 

Kids were playing basketball on a court right up against the historic buildings. 

The old and new coexist comfortably here…

Like this sadly dilapidated and crumbling structure, side by side with a shiny new home.

The village is set in a luxuriously verdant plain at the foot of hills that seem more fitting of Scotland than Hong Kong. 

The odd architecture and neglected exterior of this small apartment block seemed more incongruous than the historic buildings. While the latter remain dignified and proudly preserved, these appeared to simply be left behind by the passing of time. 

The local residents are of diverse nationalities. 

An offshoot of the Kam Tin river runs alongside the village. 

Probably under-visited, this tranquil town deserves a trip especially since there are some other places of interest nearby, like the Kam Tin Walled Village (吉慶圍). That’s for the next blog post…


To get there, take the Purple Tuen Mun MTR line to Kam Sheung Rd Station, then walk for 25 mins or take a 5-minute taxi ride.

Shui Hau – 水口 – “Water Mouth”

In the middle of March, I ventured to Shui Hau, a mudflat in a bay on the south side of Lantau Island. Its name means “water opening”, or if translated more literally, “water mouth”. I was with colleagues from the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation to pilot an educational program where schoolchildren would be brought to help conduct a horseshoe crab survey. Such mudflats are perfect nursery grounds for young horseshoe crabs. Some strange meteorological or chemical phenomenon was happening as the conditions were just right for a dense fog to materialize, covering the entire bay. It was a surreal scene–one that I have never seen and that I would have never guessed to see here–and I hope my photos can help you see that Hong Kong is a place of remarkable natural beauty. No horseshoe crabs in these photos, but I’ll post some in the near future.

Learn more about the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation at their website.

Clockenflap

Clockenflap is Hong Kong’s long-overdue answer to every other world city’s music festivals. With the venue set against the incomparable sweeping view of Victoria Harbour, the festival is still in its infancy but it’s well on its way to becoming a major event on the international music circuit. Spirits were high and people were dressed in their Sunday hipster best–all of this under crisp blue skies and on one of Hong Kong’s rare urban patches of grass.

Clockenflap took place from Nov 30 to Dec 1 in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District.