Exhibiting vacationers one other aspect of town and its historical past, with Paul Chan of Stroll in Hong Kong
Chan and his crew have been providing excursions of the type over the past six years. He’s pushed by a want to point out that his dwelling metropolis is extra than simply gleaming skyscrapers and neon lights – it’s a place of tradition and custom, in addition to compelling human tales.
“What makes Hong Kong distinctive? Its tradition, custom and other people,” he says.
He first had the thought of organising strolling excursions whereas finding out comparative politics in 2006 on the London Faculty of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He went to London on the British authorities’s Chevening Scholarship, which sponsors 15 to 20 Hong Kong residents yearly for a 12 months of grasp’s diploma examine in Britain.
Throughout his keep in London, in addition to finding out, Chan explored town and visited different European international locations, together with Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.
On his journeys, he joined native strolling excursions and was amazed by the way in which the tour guides introduced the cities with compelling tales.
“You could possibly really feel their sense of satisfaction of their cities. They knew about their origins and communities a lot better than we do in Hong Kong,” says he. “It planted the seed in me of an thought to do one thing equally cool in Hong Kong.”
After graduating with a grasp’s diploma from the LSE, Chan began working as a political assistant to the Secretary for Meals and Well being in Hong Kong in 2008.
Nevertheless, the considered beginning strolling excursions by no means light.
After 4 years working within the authorities, Chan determined to take a break from the demanding job and discover a brand new solution to put his experience to make use of. So he returned to the thought behind his thoughts.
“There appeared to be a sudden calling, so I assumed I’d attempt the thought out,” says he.
Chan and three buddies established Stroll in Hong Kong in 2013, providing small-group strolling excursions round outdated Hong Kong neighbourhoods like Sheung Wan, Kowloon Metropolis and Sham Shui Po, the place vacationers can get a nostalgic style of town.
However to start out a enterprise from scratch isn’t simple in Hong Kong, particularly for brand spanking new concepts which take time for the general public to understand, says Chan.
What makes Chan’s excursions particular are the human tales instructed, however it’s difficult and time-consuming to seek for compelling tales that locals are keen to share, says he.
As soon as when exploring the outdated neighbourhood of Sheung Wan, Chan and his crew – six full-time and about 20 freelance tour guides – noticed a conventional letterpress printing store. They talked to the store proprietor Yam Wai-sang and realized that the realm was dwelling to over 200 such retailers, however most of them have light out, having being supplanted by desktop publishing. Yam’s store, Kwong Wah Printing Firm, is the one one left on Hong Kong Island.
Chan and his crew included the printing store of their Sheung Wan tour and let Yam, a printing grasp of over 60 years’ expertise, inform guests his tales and present them the normal strategies.
“The store is sort of a residing web page of town’s printing historical past,” says he. “We imagine that every one college students, vacationers and even native residents ought to have an opportunity to find out about this surviving cultural heritage.”
Chan and his tour guides, all natives of town, additionally share their very own private tales with vacationers.
Chan remembers his time in secondary college close to the Yau Ma Tei Theatre – the one surviving pre-war theatre in Kowloon. Opened in 1930, the theatre was as soon as widespread with working class audiences, however over time buyer numbers fell, particularly within the 1980s when confronted with competitors from dwelling video leisure. In an effort to remain in enterprise, the theatre began displaying blue films.
“Schoolboys would crack jokes when passing by the theatre however didn’t dare to go in,” he remembers.
Vacationers respect the tales. About 7,000 joined the corporate’s strolling excursions final 12 months, half of them from abroad, largely from Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore. However there was additionally a big native contingent amongst them, says Chan.
He remembers one native man in his 30s, working in funding banking, who joined most of the excursions.
“After I requested him why, he instructed me that although he had lived in Hong Kong for a few years, he nonetheless felt like a traveller,” says Chan. “We present them issues they seldom discover in day by day life and arouse their curiosity.”
Chan sees his strolling excursions as complementary to traditional excursions, quite than being competitors, providing individuals extra decisions to discover town.
“We’re one of many earliest gamers to have initiated change and, hopefully along with others, the ripple impact will proceed,” he says.