Qing Dynasty (Kowloon)
I walk through the crowds of Kowloon, sipping a cup of green tea in a Styrofoam cup. While most of the chatter I hear around me is in Cantonese or English, I can pick up the occasional conversation in Russian, Arabic or Japanese. Occasionally, the scream of a jet engine drowns out everything, as another plane lands or takes off from the nearby airport. The freewheeling, cosmopolitan nature of one of the British Empire’s richest cities is famous throughout this world.
I am with my contact, Professor Harry Lau of the University of Hong Kong’s political science department. We spent much of the morning touring the Kowloon district, discussing everything from the street vendors to our personal lives. Dr. Lau was born in Hong Kong, but raised in England; his accent would have given that away, even if he hadn’t told me. He tells me that he returned to his place of birth, not for personal reasons, but to study what is perhaps both the oldest and smallest country in the world.