Sustainable Future, Hong Kong Tales
Edward CHAN: Ap Lei Chau Metamorphosis

Edward CHAN Yue Fai

36 years old

Resident of Southern Horizons for seven years

“I moved to South Horizons in 2009.  When I first moved in, I disliked this area very much, I felt it was an “isolated village”.  South Horizons is a middle-class community.  I used to live in Wanchai where cha chaan tengs and wet markets are nearby. But there are only chain-stores in South Horizons, it has no connection with Ap Lei Chau and Aberdeen. Yet it occupies the best chunk of Ap Lei Chau.  Old kaifong told me that before Southern Horizons was built, many people came to the southern tip of Ap Lei Chau for fishing.  Old people used to come with their sampan.  But fishing is prohibited now.     

I moved to Tseung Kwan O in 2014.  I realised then that Tseung Kwan O is worse than Southern Horizons.  The entire district is divided into a dozen clusters without any connection between them.  It was very inconvenient because people must either drive or take the MTR in Tseung Kwan O. 

When I moved back to Southern Horizons in 2015, I learned to appreciate it.  Clinics, pharmacists, Chinese restaurants and library are readily available.  We can also shop for groceries in Ap Lei Chau and Aberdeen.  Ap Lei Chau, like Aberdeen, is held together by a cluster of old streets where people walk, shop and mingle.  Tseung Kwan O pales in comparison.  Without old markets like Yuen Long and Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O lacks a place to hold its residents together. 

Kaito (small local boats) is the icon of the Southern District.  The Hung Shing Temple next to the Kaito pier is also rich in history. They have witnessed the transformation of Hong Kong before it was Hong Kong.  Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau used to be a vibrant fishing hub.  The fishing community is connected to the religion and culture of this temple.  Nowadays, we can still sit on the kaito, sharing stories with the old kaifong.  Although life today is so much different from life four or five decades years ago, we live along the same coastline.  Kaito is the avenue which connects the residence and geography of Aberdeen to Ap Lei Chau.  This is something that could not be found in other housing estate where you can only travel by bus or MTR.

As the South Island Line is completed, I foresee a series of changes. Gentrification would drive up the price of goods.  When the rent in Ap Lei Chau Main Street goes up, old and independent shops may be driven out, and the neighbourhood may become yet another Tai Hang. For instance, the loss of neighbourhood clinics will affect the elderlies on Main Street. These changes would most affect the kaifongs in the area.

“Metamorphosis of Ap Lei Chau” is a Facebook page that I initiated to share all sorts of news, old photos, weather, and traffic about Apleichau.  I hope that the page could trigger people to care more about their community.”   

Issue: #027 - 25 July 2016
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