I spent the 1989-1990 school year teaching at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. One of the places that always fascinated me in a strange macabre way was the walled city of Kowloon. When you landed in the Kai Tak airport, it seemed like the wingtips were almost touching the buildings and you could see people through the windows. Here's a shot from an old photo album where I put two pictures together (pre-photoshop) showing not only the outside facade of the walled city but also a plane coming in for a landing. I never ventured inside the city. The stories were of crime and triads (criminal gangs) and worse. Police, it was said, never ventured inside. It was a city within a city. But it was right next to the airport and in the center of town. And we would go nearby because the best Thai restaurants in Hong Kong - with amazing mango and sticky rice - were very close to the walled city.
But Canadian photographer Greg Girard and Ian Lamboth did go inside, for five years, learning about it and taking pictures. This Mailonline article offers some of his photos and some narrative about this city in a city. Definitely worth a look for people to understand that humans are incredibly adaptable. The pictures are MUCH better than my old fading snapshot.
In the highly government controlled Hong Kong, the walled city was an example of life without government. It was a haven for food processors and all sorts of people who wanted to escape government regulations.
From the article:
The area was made up of 300 interconnected high-rise buildings, built without the contributions of a single architect and ungoverned by Hong Kong's health and safety regulations