Throughout much of the 20th century, Hong Kong has undergone massive economic development and urban transformation, from a small trading port before WWII to one of the most successful industrial capitals in Asia in 1970s. From 1980s on, most of the city’s manufacturing industries have moved to either China or elsewhere in Asia. Today, large numbers of industrial buildings that once housed almost half of Hong Kong’s work force have been given a “second life” and converted into various spaces for light manufacturing, creative industries, storage facilities, or small offices for all kinds of businesses. JCCAC in Shek Kip Mei is a recent example of adaptive reuse of former industrial building in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Opened in 2008, Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC) is a “multi-disciplinary arts village and art centre”, providing affordable studios and exhibition facilities for the art and design community. The centre welcomes the public to visit the shops, studios and café within the complex 7 days a week. From time to time, JCCAC would host shows and design fairs to further engage the public and the immediate neighborhood.
I visited JCCAC during its annual handicraft fair. Much of the ground floor atrium was turned into a market fair, while many studios on the upper floors had their handicraft shops open to the public. The open roof was animated by various activities. At one corner, a patio was packed with stalls selling vintage clothing, housewares and books. At the other corner people were lining up for henna art. On the wall adjacent to the main stair was a photo exhibition with the theme on local community. A local band brought in live music to create an upbeat atmosphere. Looking out from the roof parapet, layers upon layers of apartment blocks seemed never ending. Recent effort by the housing department to upgrade or redevelop the old housing estates in Kowloon was clearly visible from the vivid new paint colours on the apartment facades, planters with local flora, and new green roof design.
For a city known for long working hours and bustling nightlife, hiking in one of its 24 country parks has quietly emerged as a popular alternative to shopping, karaoke, or watching a movie as a local weekend activity.
On a fine day in early April, I set out on a half day journey to hike in the southern part of Hong Kong Island. Compared to the northern shoreline of Hong Kong Island where the downtown is located, the south is dotted with sandy beaches and hill forests. I had a few hours’ time before sunset to do the hike, and I picked the Dragon’s Back hike in Shek O Country Park. Recognized by some magazines as one of the best urban hikes in Asia, the Dragon’s Back Hike has become really popular among locals and tourists. Just like many other hikes in Hong Kong, the trailhead of Dragon’s Back Hike can be easily accessed by public transportation. In this case, the trailhead at To Tei Wan can be reached by frequent public buses from Shau Kei Wan MTR Station.
It took me less than three hours to hike from To Tei Wan to Big Wave Bay, and then another half an hour to walk from Big Wave Bay to Shek O Village. After reaching the highest point of Dragon’s Back at 284m, the magnificent panoramic view of Shek O and the South China Sea was rewarding. The descend journey to Bay Wave Bay was largely done in shaded paths. By the time I reached the renounced surfing beach, the sun was about to set. I stayed at Big Wave Bay and continued on to finish my journey at Shek O, a mere 20-minute walk from Big Wave Bay. At Shek O, I climbed onto a rock hill adjacent to the beach to take in the scenery and watched the people enjoying themselves on the beach under the setting sun.
龍脊 – Dragon’s Back is a scenic trail along the ridges of folding mountainsNo wonder why the undulating hike along the Dragon’s Back ridge has been recognized by guidebooks and magazines as one of the best urban hikes in Asia. The view toward Shek O Village and Beach, and the rocky islands of Tai Tau Chau and Ng Fan Chau is the biggest reward for climbing up to the Dragon’s Back.
Paragliding in mid-air or surfing along the Big Wave Bay (Tai Long Wan) – people choose different ways to enjoy themselves outside the city centre.Aerial view to the Big Wave Bay (Tai Long Wan), a popular surfing spot in HK.