For the well-heeled businessman, tragedy was a stock market slump, for the poor it might be seeing their makeshift hut destroyed in a matter of minutes by fire, typhoon or the bulldozers of the city's Squatter Control Force. Hong Kong in the 60s was an amazing amalgam of lifestyles. In the smart Central District perfumed socialites rubbed shoulders at showings of the fledgling ready-to-wear fashion industry, while in nearby back allies old women scavenged for a living.
Ubiquitous newspaper and cigarette vendors on Hong Kong’s street corners have, more than in any other city, catered to a public thirst for up-to-the-minute news, be it the vagaries of the stock market, the hottest racing tips or the latest swordplay starlet gossip.
An image synonymous with the city that had always lived by trade, was the perspiring, straining coolie, half running, half walking, through the clamour of Hong Kong’s waterfront.
The New Territories was once the domain of farmers and fishermen who tilled the land or chased shoals across the South China Sea long before the British Crown Colony was conceived. Its valleys and steep ravines have always reflected the seasons: waterfalls appeared with the rains, scarlet rhododendrons marked the arrival of spring, and rainbirds heralded the harvesting of the year's first crop of rice.