I grew up in the cyberpunk-esque dystopia called Kowloon Walled City which inspired the setting in Ghost in the Shell. AMA.
The famed (notorious) Kowloon Walled City (KWC) was brought up in this thread. If you don't know what KWC is, here are moe infos (mostly culled from the same thread, so credit to the posters there), but basically it looked like this:
I lived in KWC when I was 2-3 years old but I have no recollection of that time. Later on, even though our family moved out of there, but since I was enrolled in the schools near there and my parent worked during the day, so my bro and me were dropped off at my relative's place in KWC everyday. I got to know the place pretty well because I spent at least 4 hrs there everyday from 1984 to 1991. So ask away!
Note: I will be back in a few hours to start answering questions, got shit to do today.
(1) I know a lot of you want proof. I can think of two things that may prove it, my school photo from Bishop Ford's memorial school and Angel's Kindergarten which are both next to KWC and I think both still exit. I will see if i can find them and send it to the Mod when i get home.
(2) Many of you asked for pictures inside. Even though everyone has a camera now, back in the 80s it was not that common and even if our family had one, it made no sense to waste the film inside KWC from the people who lives there perspective.
(3) Bishop Ford's memorial School is on top of a hill next to KWC and it's next to a cementery. Even most Hong Kong people don't know this fact unless you are a Kowloon or Lok Fu local!!! People from Lok Fu can back me up on this. I guess this is like a semi-proof that at least I am local to that area.
(4) I need to go now but will be back and answer a few more and hopefully find my photos and send to the mod as proof. Thanks for the interest in this AMA!
(1) I just sent some strong circumstantial proof to the mod because as I said I don't have direct proof.
(2) My answers are vague? Yea true, but I am recalling things that happened 20 or more years ago and I was about 8-10 years old at that time, how can I comment on the nuances of the socio-political situations there from the memories of a child?
(3) I am not familiar with every single place in KWC? This is true, now just look at the photos and tell me, would you let your 8-10 years to roam the dirty alleys inside KWC?? I mostly travelled back and forth from my relative's place and school and when my bro, cousins and me went out and played, we played OUTSIDE the fortress. Kids don't play hide and seek inside KWC.
(1) The mod hasn't got back to me about the proof I sent, probably because it's thanksgiving.
(2) Lack of photos inside? I am repeating myself here, it was in the 80s, I didn't have an iphone back then, I could't just take random snap shots of the place. Do you notice that all the photos of KWC are from journalists or professional photographers and not from residents who took photos of themselves inside? It never came to mind back then that I should take a photo of myself in the dark alley under the leaking pipes with all the shits and trash on the ground.
(3) I will probably pop back in tomorrow to answer a few more questions.
(1) Here is the google map of Bishop Memorial School, you can see the Kowloon Walled city park just next to it.
(2) I will probably look at this thread again for the last time tonite and answer a few more questions and maybe do a summary.
Well I think I will leave this AmA now. By some requests, here is the photo of KWC where I indicate (red arrow) approximately the building I spent most of my time in, it is only approximate since there was no way I could know what the building looked like from the outside and I locate it by approximating the way I took to get there. The yellow arrow indicate the Kindergarten I went to and the blue arrow points to the location of the Bishop Ford Memorial school. Where did most of the residents go? The buildings pointed by the purple arrow and many more behind them not shown in this photo were the destinations of many of the residents.
There is some misconception about KWC, by the mid-80s, it was no longer as dangerous as it once was. There were probably still many drug problems/prostitution/gangs and triads, but they have all gone underground. On the surface, at least from what I remember, it was a very busy place where people carried on with their lives just like any other places.
Many people asked about fire hazard, I had seen a few fires broke out throughout the years, but they were always isolated to a few apartments. There was never a really big scale fire that I remember, probably due to the all concrete buildings and high humidities within the fortress, but honestly I don't know why it never happened (thankfully).