- My Hong Kong home -

I have lived many different places in Hong Kong - - -
Usually not of high standard, - always very small,- and sometimes even without windows, - and if my room had a window, the view was typically straight into a gray concrete wall of the neighbor house, - very close, - and very dark, - because the sun never had a chance to find its way into the narrow spaces between the buildings -
But I did not care - - -
I just had fun and excitement, and my room was only a private place to store my suitcase and to sleep, - sometimes -, until the telephone rang, and I had to go back to sea again - - -

Under normal circumstances I would not submit pictures of my living place, since I presume that it is not interesting to anybody!
However in this case it is actually interesting, because how many of the millions of tourists that pass through Hong Kong every year, actually see and experience how an average Chinese family lived in the seventies?

Usually the tourists prefer to stay in the big hotels which are the same sterile things all over the world, but to get close to the local population and learn about their lives is a completely different experience,- interesting and very, very rewarding!

So one fine day I moved in with the Wong family in a high rise building in Tsimshatsui!
Only Mr. Wong we did not see very often - - -
He was one of Hong Kong's many seamen and was always away, so I had the privilege to be the only man in the house.
Anytime I wanted, I could join the Wong family for dinner.
Mimi Wong considered it an honor and a great privilege to have a European living in her house and there were always plenty of food,- VERY good food -, so actually I was the privileged one to be able to enjoy the services and cooking of Mimi Wong!

An extra bonus arrived one day from main land China!
A relative of the Wong family had avoided the soldiers guarding  the Hong Kong/China border, and managed to cross the border illegally!
She arrived very tired, dirty and hungry and with her naked feet and legs bleeding from the rough trip across the country side,- but very, very happy that she was alive, - and had finally succeeded to reach freedom in Hong Kong!
What a story she could tell - -
And very interesting for a foreigner like me to get so close to an event like this!

So I stayed for a long time with the family Wong in their small Tsimshatsui apartment.
Besides the living room, there were two more rooms, - and a toilet and a kitchen -, and that was it.
Since both extra rooms were rented out,- one of them to me -, the Wong family slept in the kitchen, where they arranged the beds on top of each other in order to get enough space!
Therefore,- if you have never heard about a kitchen-bedroom,- you have the chance to see one now!

My Chinese "family"
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

Family dinner, - part of my Chinese "family" at one of those gorgeous dinners
Left to right: An illegal Chinese refugee, just escaped across the border from Red China, - then Lisa Ng, - small ToTo Wong and Ko Lai Yi

The sitting room of the Wong family's apartment, -  the door behind is the main door -
There is no permanent dining table. It was only taken out when needed.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

Another view from the sitting room.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

 Take note the small "table" besides the red chairs!  It is the house altar for the spirits living here!
The kitchen is to the left,- and the door to the left of the toilet behind is the door to my private room.

The House altar
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

In Asia it is normal to assume, that spirits live everywhere in nature, - and that might cause problems if for example you want to built a house or something else at a place that already might be occupied by a spirit. In order to avoid that sort of trouble, you built a small "house" for the spirit, so that it is not offended by your presence.  And of course you take care, that a good relationship to the the local spirit is maintained in the future, by offering small gifts and burning some incense. Take note of the small package of food on the floor in front of the altar.

The "kitchen-bedroom"
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

If you have never, ever heard about a "kitchen-bedroom" before,- you have now, - and this is what it looks like!
This is where truly wonderful Chinese home cooking was produced in abundance, - and where the Wong family slept in the bunks to the right, because their two small bedrooms were rented out!

My room
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

 - small, - but the best in the apartment, with everything I needed -

Another view of my room -
(To this day, I still have everything you see on display in this picture!)
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

My room
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

- a final look, - with a picture of a crane bought in China, - and my uniform -

Toto Wong, - my absolute favorite.
- having fun with me at the playground downstairs -
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

ToTo Wong
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

- looking at her strange "gwei lo uncle" from Denmark -
(Strange to imagine, that she must be a grown up woman in her forties now.)



       Updated:  June 6th.2001,- Nov.23rd.2004, - Aug. 08.2007, - March 06.2011