Sustainable Future, Hong Kong Tales
Palita CHENG: Lanterns on the Nullah

Palita CHENG Po Chu
58 years old
Lived in Chung Mei for over a decade

 “I lived in the Southern District for over 30 years, working in a factory in Wong Chuk Hang. My parents still live in the District, so I go back occasionally. I was born in Chung Mei (Staunton Creek's Nullah, now the area near the Aberdeen Police Station). The Ocean Court used to be a block of squatters, with fishing boats all over the coastline. I was born to a fisherman’s family. We lived on the boat with my siblings and nephews, so imagine how many heads turned for a call! Our boat home was shaped like a regular cube. Every Mid-Autumn, my brother would hang small lanterns over the roof-terrace. Nowadays, when I see lanterns dangling around the park, it recalls that scene all those years ago.

I grew up around Chung Mei and Aberdeen. Back in those days, it was a half-hour walk to school from Chung Mei, passing by “Fifteen Houses” (Sup Ng Gaan) and then marching along the Aberdeen Avenue (now Tin Hau Temple) to Tin Wan. In our spare time, my siblings and I would go on-shore and play in the soccer field in the Technical Institute. That was our entertainment.

Later on I began working in Wong Chuk Hang. Buses were rarer in those days before the Aberdeen Tunnel. I had to ride on some 4-seat mini-vans. Those van stations have since become shopping malls.

It’s changed a lot these days. The Ap Lai Chau Bridge was built after reclamation, and Chung Mei was demolished in the late sixties. The Aberdeen bus terminal you see now used to be part of the sea. There was a place called Chun Nam Restaurant, facing the Venus Palace Pier where shrimp boats were parked all the way out to Ap Lei Chau. Before the Aberdeen Centre was built, it was a pier with a ship called Sam Dor, which is a smaller, less extravagant version of the Venus Palace Pier. My sister threw her wedding banquet there. Now more people live in Aberdeen, the buildings are knitted together, and there are more visitors after the opening of Aberdeen Centre. It has gotten noisier, buildings were torn down, and new monuments are erected. They try to be nostalgic, but new landmarks can never capture the mood of the past.”

Issue: #026 - 15 July 2016
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