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So I’m hanging out with my dad today (my parents are here in Melbourne visiting) and somehow I got to talking with him about his life in Hong Kong before he moved to the United States. Out of curiosity, I ask my dad if he knows what Kowloon Walled City is, and amazingly, he tells me that HE LIVED THERE FOR 14 YEARS WHEN HE LIVED IN HONG KONG!

My fascination with this demolished city suddenly felt very personal. I began firing question after question at my dad about what life was like living in the “City of Darkness”. And his personal accounts were just incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever been so fascinated with my dad before. He basically recounted the history of Kowloon Walled City and the string of events in history that lead it to become notorious as a haven for illegal activity and lawlessness.

He says that there was prostitution, rampant gang activity, illegal businesses, and heaps of amateur dentists lining the side of the city that he lived on. My dad himself was a shoemaker while living there (my family has roots in the shoe business in Hong Kong) and he made shoes for money when he wasn’t at school.

To get to school, my dad had to walk from his house and through the center of this incredible makeshift city to get to the other side before taking a bus to attend classes.


Because of the deal between China and Great Britain at the time, British police had no power within the Kowloon city walls. My dad recalls thieves robbing people on the outskirts of the city and then immediately running into the Kowloon city center in order to evade capture. The British police were simply not allowed into Kowloon Walled City.

The street that determined where the British had power was called “Boundary Street“.

My interest in this place in Hong Kong’s history has been reignited. I can’t believe that I’ve known somebody this whole time who actually lived in there! I’ve read so many things about it over the past few months, and to hear a personal account of it all is just fantastic.

I’ve included some more photos of the city that I’ve never posted on Doobybrain before. Check them out inside.

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Previously on Doobybrain.com: Videos from within Kowloon Walled City and The City of Darkness.