A little bit of history…my personal interest in Hong Kong dates back to around 1978, when, in my mid-teens, I watched a BBC TV series called The Hong Kong Beat It was a great documentary which opened my eyes for the first time to the potential of an expat life in Asia. That, and a great theme tune by Denton & Cook who were busy writing theme music for a number of BBC TV series at the time. My recollection of the series now is pretty sketchy, but I do recall being impressed and worried by an episode looking at life in the Kowloon Walled City – illustrated as a den of iniquity, drugs, Triads and slavery.
In 1983 (after my first seafaring visit to Hong Kong), I got as far as filling in the application papers for joining the RHKP, but somehow never got to put them in the post…probably put off by the thought of having to learn Cantonese and not realising then, that recruits got total immersion language training, so my chances of success would have been greater than they were at O-level French (Grade C, for the record!).
Incidentally, I also recall that the series propagated the myth that HK’s waters were ‘shark infested’ supposedly as a deterrant to IIs. Though, how many IIs got to watch The Hong Kong Beat before slopping through the mudflats of Inner Deep Bay is debatable!
Scroll forward another 10 years to 1992-3, and I found myself wandering around the Kai Tak area looking for factory outlet clothes and saw a bunch of old HKers watching through a fence, a wrecking ball swinging into action. The densely crowded targets looked vaguely familiar and I realised I was watching the destruction of the famous Walled City. I recall that an SCMP article of the time provided some history of the Walled City’s exclusion from the 99 year New Territories’ Treaty, effectively making it an unpoliced no-go area.