Merry Christmas from the 80 Days team! We hope you enjoy this Christmas themed “minisode” – this is a new, shorter and more focused format of episode we’re trying out before we launch Season 3. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this different style of storytelling (positive or negative), or indeed we’d love to hear your thoughts on anything on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @80dayspodcast or by email at email@example.com
Best wishes for 2018, wherever you are around the world.
For the Season Finale of the first season of 80 Days, we’re going to do something a little different and look at a place that no longer exists: Kowloon Walled City. Once the most densely populated place in the planet, this unique, untamable settlement existed in Hong Kong, growing up from a military settlement which was originally built to demarcate the border between the British and Chinese controlled areas in the territory. It grew in size and scope to become a tightly-packed labyrinth of illegal activity and squalor, unregulated by either the Chinese or British governments. At its peak, over 30,000 people lived in the Walled City, resulting in a population density of approximately 1,255,000 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,250,000/sq mi). It was demolished in 1994, shortly before China retook control of Hong Kong, but has since become a cultural touchstone, a fascinating example of what humanity can become when allowed to run unchecked. Your hosts are Luke Kelly@thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle@markboyle86 and Joe Byrne@anbeirneach, in Hong Kong, the UK and Switzerland, respectively. (Theme music byThomas O’Boyle)
Some things you might like to know more about:
The name Kowloon, given to the peninsula north of Hong Kong Island, comes from the Cantonese pronunciation of 九龍, Chinese for “Nine Dragons” (gau lung, or in Madarin Jiǔlóng); the name was given to it by the last Song Emporer, the 8-year-old Bing (趙昺), who saw the 8 mountains surrounding the place as “dragons”. A clever courtier pointed out that the Emperor was also a “dragon”, and hence there were 9. The story is told here in HK Magazine
We drew a few quotes and a lot of insight from Elizabeth Sinn’s article “Kowloon Walled City: Its Origins and Early History” (Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1987, vol 27, p 30); for a more detailed account of this era, this article is recommended reading
When the Fortified City was built in 1846, giant stone name plaques decorated the main gate to the city (reading 九龍寨城, translated as Kowloon Walled City); they were excavated and can still be seen on the site today
Mark came across a cannon from the ship Nemesis(the British East India Company’s first iron-clad warship) in the gardens of Windsor Castle; it is pictured below. More on the Nemesis from Victorian Web.
Recently, Luke visited the Kowloon Walled City Park, which now stands on the site where the City was before demolition; he took some photos while he was there
Finally, here is some handheld camera footage by Rob Frost from the early 1990s inside the City:
We hope you enjoyed listening to Season 1. We’ll be taking a break for a couple of months to get production of Season 2 under way, but you may hear from us occasionally during the break. If you’ve been entertained by what you heard, then let us know – leave a review on iTunes (or wherever you listen), or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter. We also really welcome feedback about places we’ve explored and recommendations for where we should go next season.