Kai Tak Airport arrival in 1998

My first visit to Hong Kong was in February 1998 – I missed out on seeing the territory while it was still a British colony, but I was luck enough to fly into the soon to be closed Kai Tai Airport. Here is a YouTube video showing the hair raising approach to the airport.

Kai Tak Airport closed in July 1998, replaced by the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok – a far less exciting final approach.

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Riding the KCR to the Hong Kong countryside

Hong Kong is famous for being an urban jungle, but a little known fact is that the countryside is only a short train ride away.

Passing the lake at Tai Po Kau

This 1988 television commercial from the Kowloon-Canton Railway promoted this fact.

In the words of their jingle:

What a different the train makes to the way we all live.
Taking people to places they always wanted to go.
Beautify scenery, greenery, the countryside is waiting for you.
So a wonderful difference KCR makes to you.

In the years since, the role of the KCR East Rail line has changed – the predominant traffic is now commuters from the New Territories bound for their jobs in urban Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

Southbound EMU approaches Sha Tin


A lightly different tack can be seen in the TV commercial from the same period – promoting the for the Kowloon-Canton Railway was a way for residents of the New Territories to head into the ‘big city’ for shopping and eating out.

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Working late in Hong Kong

On my last visit to Hong Kong I paid a visit to the Sky100 observation deck atop the International Commerce Centre, but I noticed one thing beside the view – how long officer workers are chained to their desks.

Working late on the 99th floor of the  International Commerce Centre

Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:

The average weekly working hours of full-time employees in Hong Kong is 49 hours. According to the Price and Earnings Report 2012 conducted by UBS, while the global average were 1,915 hours per year, the average working hours in Hong Kong is 2,296 hours per year, which ranked the fifth longest yearly working hours among 72 countries under study.

While the view from the top is nice.

Looking out from the Sky100 observation deck

But does it make up for being stuck at work until after the sun goes down?

Sun sets to the west of Hong Kong Island

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Boris Johnson in the skies over Hong Kong

The recent Brexit decision has seen the ‘Boris Johnson in a helicopter’ meme crop up again across social media, but for me the view out the door was what caught my eye – I could have sworn it was somewhere in Hong Kong.

Boris Johnson in the skies of Hong Kong

I managed to spot the location on Google Maps with my first guess – Boris Johnson was off the western shore of Sham Shui Po, looking down on the Yuen Fat Wharf, Cheung Sha Wan Wholesale Fish Market, and Nam Cheong Station.

I was then able to replicate the angle of the original photo using Google Earth.

Sham Shui Po waterfront aerial view Google Earth

Quite the bit of detective work, eh?


Boris Johnson visited Hong Kong in October 2013 – here you can find a selection of related photoshop memes, along with the original helicopter photo.

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People’s Liberation Army enter Hong Kong

I was still in primary school when the British handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997, but there was one thing that stood out to me – the People’s Liberation Army streaming across the border into Hong Kong.

People’s Liberation Army arrive into Hong Kong in 1997 (via big5.locpg.hk)

An advance party of 200 unarmed People’s Liberation Army troops were permitted into Hong Kong before the handover, with 509 armed troops and 39 vehicles crossing the border at 21:00 on June 30, 1997 – three hours before the official handover.

This contemporary Hong Kong TV news report shows their arrival into the city.

The procession was made up of open trucks loaded with troops.

People’s Liberation Army arrive into Hong Kong in 1997 (via fn01.blog.sohu.com)

People’s Liberation Army arrive into Hong Kong in 1997 (via english.cntv.cn)

There are a number of border crossings between Hong Kong and China, with the People’s Liberation Army using more than one – both the Wenjindu Port / Man Kam To Control Point complex to the east of Lo Wu, and the Huanggang Port / Lok Ma Chau Control Point complex at Lok Ma Chau.

Today around 6,000 People’s Liberation Army personnel are garrisoned in Hong Kong, where they drive right-hand drive vehicles the carry number plates that start with ZG, standing for zhugang (駐港) – Chinese for “stationed in Hong Kong”.

Further reading

Wikipedia has more on the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison.

The leadup to the June 30th 1997 handover can be seen in this Sky News piece.

With the actual handover ceremony found in this video.

Photo gallery

Finding photos of the People’s Liberation Army entering Hong Kong was surprisingly difficult – here are some I found online:

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