Centre of Urban History, Culture and Media

Story of the Month - January 2019

Story of the Month - January 2019 

每月故事 - 二零一九年一月


Who needs intercultural education? In Hong Kong, 8% of the population are non-Chinese, the bigger groups among them being Southeast Asians and South Asians. And though 92% of the population are all considered Chinese, they have come from many different cultural backgrounds, each one with their own traditions. The diverse languages and religions, as well as skills and knowledges that these various social groups have brought to Hong Kong have contributed to making Hong Kong a metropolis. Center Director Prof Siumi Maria Tam through her research on ethnic minority identities in Hong Kong, finds however that the various ethnic and cultural groups have low levels of interaction and of mutual understanding, and this has caused much cultural misconceptions and social exclusions.




Together with Centre fellows Prof Wyman Tang and Prof Janice Lau, she led two recent publication projects as part of her Knowledge Transfer Project "Multiculturalism in Action" (MIA). The two books "What are we celebrating? Multicultural Festivals in Hong Kong" (2017 Wheatear), and "The ICONIC Mums Kitchen: Tastes of intercultural Hong Kong" (2018 Department of Anthropology, CUHK) shared the vision of making cultural knowledge accessible to all, regardless of ethnic background. They believe that the first step is to have the same set of information available to all, and hence they insisted on publishing bilingually. They highlighted the importance of partnership with ethnic minority communities in raising cultural diversity awareness in Hong Kong, especially in creating a common ground among different ethnic communities.

譚教授與中心研究員鄧偉文教授及劉影翠教授在知識轉移項目多元文化行動計劃MIA)下出版了兩書籍,分別為<<我們在慶祝什麼?香港的多元文化節>>2017麥穗),以及 <<ICONIC媽媽廚房:跨文化香港滋味>>2018年香港中文大學人類學系),目的在分享文化知識,打破族群之間的壁壘。研究者們認為,邁向理解第一步是所有人都獲得相同的資訊,因此他們堅持雙語出版。他們強調與少數族裔社區建立夥伴關係對提高香港文化多元化意識的重要性,特別是在不同族群之間建立共通點。



Professor Tam emphasized in particular the realization of positive ethnic relations through intersubjective experiences, and due to a lack of intercultural education in the school curriculum, most students and teachers have little exposure to ideas and practice of multiculturalism. The second step to intercultural education is therefore making socially meaningful relations a reality for most people. The two books they published aim to create a safe and enjoyable educational environment in which participants can take part in each other's festivals, and try their hands on cooking each other's foods. In conjunction with the publication of the books, the MIA team has carried out multimedia presentations in schools in different parts of Hong Kong, as well as co-organized multicultural carnivals in housing estates in different districts. These are carried out in consultation with different ethnic partners, and together these activities hope to bring intercultural education to Hongkongers regardless of class and ethnic backgrounds, and ultimately make transculturality a sustainable and realizable goal.






storyofthemonth jan2019

Photo caption: The MIA team's book launch at the CUHK Commercial Press Bookstore on Nov 28, 2018 where they discussed views on interculturalism and the role of academics in promoting social justice.




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Story of the Month - December 2018

Story of the Month - December 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年十二月

Centre Fellow Professor Song Jing serves Gender Studies Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong as an Assistant Professor. Her research interests include gender, family, work, migration, urbanization and market transition.  Her research covers topics of women's self-employment and entrepreneurship, land development and property rights, dating, cohabitation and marriage, and family relations.



Her recent research examines the role of female cadres in rural politics in three Chinese villages that have been rapidly industrialized and urbanized in recent decades. She also examines how structural constraints and personal traits have interacted with each other in the different contexts of women’s political participation.



Professor Song has presented different images of rural female cadres in China’s countryside in the process of industrialization and urbanization. In some cases, women cadres did not benefit much from the political capital of their fathers and husbands. Their political engagements have relied more on personal characteristics such as entrepreneurial talents and intermediating skills, and their economic performance and administrative capabilities.




Over time, governments have adopted different priorities and requirements for women to become political activists and role models. When rural industrialization and urbanization became the priorities of local governments under the market reforms, these historical moments provided women with certain opportunities to realize upward social and political mobility beyond conventional women’s tasks.



However, it is still common for women to occupy marginal positions in the grassroots leadership and they are expected to play supportive and “intermediating” roles. The persisting patriarchal norms remain a major source of frustration among women cadres, and some choose to conform to the virtuous womanly image to achieve a good reputation that is essential to their cadre work.




   Storyofthemonth Dec2018


Caption: Farmland in Harvesting. (Photo credit: SONG Jing)






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Story of the Month - September 2018

Story of the Month - September 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年九月


Centre Fellow Professor Tam Wai Ping serves the Department of Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong as an Associate Professor. He is also the chairman and one of the founders of Art Map, and works as an independent art curator. Professor Tam experiments with various media in art, but his works of installation, photography, and environmental art are more notable. His projects are varied in themes, ranging from the self to society. Professor Tam explained that his notion of art serves two approaches mainly; one allows individuals to connect with their mind and consciousness, and the other through public engagement, connects communities through lenses of art.



Professor Tam’s early work explores the definition of “Real”, to search the situational difference between fact and reality. He has been finding ways to contextualize history and contemporary life, exploring the relationship between “Individual and Land”, and leading to the investigation of “Modernity” in Asian values.



His more recent interests examine relationships between “Text”, “Object” and “Image” which re-evaluates how art can serve as a cognitive experience. His installation in 2015 entitled “Dream No Dream” is the outcome of his experimentations to find epiphany by observing other people’s lives through their sleep. In the spring of 2007, he went to Tokyo and entered the homes of local people at night to quietly watch them sleep. Through this he came to realise that there was love (craving), suffering, ignorance, clinging and birth in lives, but still he has not achieved enlightenment and he found life to be but a bigger dream beyond a dream. Wakefulness is only another big dream, but people tend to think they have already achieved awakening. He recognises there are true images, awareness, awakening and death in a dream.  In “Dream No Dream” these are put in four different rooms for the audience to interpret on their own.



Caption:  Dream No Dream by Tam Wai Ping.  Artist Statement: A dream is where we want to clarify what is unclear; reality is where we do not want to clarify what is already too clear…   (Photo Credit: Tam Wai Ping)
 圖片說明:夢非夢 譚偉平作品。藝術家陳述:夢是那種不清楚而想弄清楚之事,而現實是那種太清楚,但不想弄清楚的事情… …(圖片來源:譚偉平)


In his other curatorial projects engaging with the community, Prof Tam invited artists to create sculptures and installations as a way of bridging communities. For example, in the “Wishing Tree” project at the Hong Kong Children’s Hospital, the public write and hang cards of encouragement on the tree, bringing much hope and strength to children patients who are on their journey of recovery.




 Caption: Wishing Tree by David Rittinger. (Photo credit: Tam Wai Ping)

 文字說明:許願樹 - David Rittinger 作品(圖片來源:譚偉平


Professor Tam has also invited a group of ceramics artists—Fiona Wong, Ray Chan, Ben Yau, and Connie Tsang to create the artwork “Ceramic Leaves”, in order to allow the public to be more in touch with nature and to understand the local floras and insects. 

譚教授還邀請了一群陶瓷藝術家- 黃麗貞陳思光丘文彬及曾秀英一同創作了陶瓷葉子,以便讓公眾能夠更了解大自然和地的植物



 Caption: Ceramic Leaves by Fiona Wong, Ray Chan, Ben Yau, and Connie Tsang   (Photo credit: Tam Wai Ping)

 文字說明:陶瓷葉子 - 黃麗貞、陳思光、丘文彬及曾秀英作品(圖片來源:譚偉平)


 More details of Professor Tam’s projects can be found on website of Department of Fine Arts, CUHK: http://www.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/~fadept/?academic-staffs=%E8%AD%9A%E5%81%89%E5%B9%B3&lang=zh-hant



Professor Tam’s company website, Art Map can be found here:  http://www.artmap.xyz/tw/index.php

譚教授的公司網站Art Map可以在這裡找到:http://www.artmap.xyz/tw/index.php 



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Story of the Month - August 2018

Story of the Month - August 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年八月

In spite of its claims to being a global city, Hong Kong society suffers from significant racism. Africans currently living in Hong Kong have come from over 30 countries but little is known about them, as negative mainstream media portray them as being poor asylum seekers, and even criminals. While China and African countries have established extensive economic, sociocultural, and political partnerships, the idea of Africa as the poor continent defined by suffering still shapes the public imagination in Hong Kong. It is a fact of daily life that Africans in the city are targets of explicit discrimination.



With an aim to raise cross-cultural awareness and create inter-ethnic dialogue, the project Africa in Hong Kong was carried out in Fall 2017. The project was spearheaded by Centre Fellow Prof. Sealing Cheng, and was made possible by a generous funding from the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation. This project used art as a platform for mainstream society to interact with Africans in Hong Kong as cultural and social actors. With collaboration among various units, including the Department of Anthropology and School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the African Studies Programme of the University of Hong Kong, and SKH Bishop Baker Secondary School, the project engaged university students, secondary students, and African dance and drum instructors in a series of workshops, outreach programs, and public performances. Weekly seminars were co-taught by researchers who understood the everyday and institutional marginalization of Africans in Hong Kong. These inspired the energy and passions of university students who subsequently transferred their newfound knowledge to secondary students in outreach programs. The collaborative sessions culminated in three public events: LCSD’s World Cultures Festival in Tsim Sha Tsui, Freespace Happening in West Kowloon, and Africa in Hong Kong Fair in Yuen Long, when local Chinese residents enjoyed hands-on experience in African drumming and dancing.



The project was a pioneering effort to promote knowledge of the creative and artistic talents of the Africans in Hong Kong, and with it, awareness of the cultural textures and social diversity of African societies. This two-tier training model of cross-cultural exchange has successfully bridged academia and the local communities, and demonstrated the transformative potential of creative art in developing a more inclusive approach to diverse ethnic cultures.




Follow this link to view a documentary of the project: https://vimeo.com/273844118


   Storyofthemonth Aug2018


Ugandan drum instructor and university students teaching the djembe drum at the LCSD World Cultures Festival Photocredit: Sealing Cheng

烏幹達鼓導師與大學生在康文署世界文化節教導市民打非洲鼓 (照片鳴謝鄭詩靈)


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Story of the Month - May 2018

Story of the Month - May 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年五月


CUHCM Fellow Professor Sharon Wong’s recent study concerns the only complete Dragon Kiln in Hong Kong, Castle Peak Dragon Kiln, Tuen Mun. It was initially inspired by her observations of the conservation issue of dragon kilns in Singapore, which she came across while doing her PhD in National University of Singapore. Of the several Dragon Kilns in Singapore, unfortunately, only two, the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln and Guan Huat Dragon Kiln, are still functioning today. She conducted interviews with the Chua family of Sam Mui Kuang Pottery and learned that the dragon kiln in Sam Mui Kuang was demolished because of urban development in the 1990s. The stories of dragon kilns in Singapore inspired her to embark on a project exploring issues of conservation and cultural heritage in city development in Hong Kong and South China.

城市歷史文化與媒體研究中心成員黃慧怡教授,對香港的屯門青山龍窯開展的研究, 主要受到新加坡龍窯保育問題的啟發。她在新加坡國立大學修讀博士學位期間,有機會考察當地龍窯,可惜除了「陶光」與「源發」兩條龍窯至今仍保存並使用外,其他龍窯在城市發展過程中並沒有保存下來。黃教授訪問了新加坡「三美光」陶瓷的蔡氏一家,他們家的龍窯在1990年代因城市發展被拆除。新加坡龍窯的故事啟發了黃教授開展這個研究計劃,從龍窯探討文化遺產保育與香港及華南城市發展的關係。


Professor Wong strongly opines that cultural heritage conservation and urban sustainable development are not necessarily opposing forces but can potentially be aligned, by focusing on heritage as a means to connect with people. Many are of the opinion that history and cultural heritage is a thing of the past, and irrelevant with the present. However, Professor Wong argues that cultural heritage could provide people, especially those experiencing rapid urban development, a new cultural identity based on the emotional link with cultural heritage and shared collective memories of the past.



The Castle Peak Dragon Kiln in Tuen Mun was built in the 1940s. But ceased production in the early 1980s. However, its conditions remain excellent for conservation as a memory of Hong Kong as a key site for ceramics production. The Castle Peak Dragon Kiln had in the past served as a key site for the amalgam of traditional ceramics expertise from Shiwan, Guangdong, to Hong Kong. It was identified by the Hong Kong Government in the 1980s as a potential living museum. Today, with the upcoming Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge linking different cities in the Pearl River Delta, the Castle Peak Dragon Kiln sitting en route can potentially become a place that evokes routes of material and cultural exchanges in the past as well as present, with Hong Kong being the estuary of these exchanges.



The Castle Peak Dragon Kiln effectively embodies Hong Kong as a place of many but one - not just in terms of the physical location, but also in different kinds of Shiwan ceramic products all fired in one kiln. Embedded in this rich history, this strong cultural legacy of Hong Kong manifested in ceramic production could help us better understand the Hong Kong of today.



If more resources could be directed into conserving Castle Peak Dragon Kiln as a heritage site, Professor Wong argues, there is great potential for promoting the local arts and heritage scene, especially with regards to ceramics.



Storyofthemonth May2018

Inner Part of Castle Peak Dragon Kiln, Tuen Mun (Photo credit: Sharon Wong)



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Story of the Month - April 2018

Story of the Month - April 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年四月


Centre member Dr Janice Ying-chui Lau completed her MPhil in Anthropology in CUHK, and her interest in medical anthropology led her further to acquire a PhD in Public Health at CUHK. Dr Lau, with her supervisors Prof Huso Yi and Prof Martin Wong, spearheaded a project on bioethical and social issues revolving decision-making by pregnant women over the choice of NIPT (Non-invasive Prenatal Test) Vs IPD (Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis) regarding the detection of Down Syndrome.



NIPT is a ground-breaking clinical technique developed by Prof Dennis Lo. It utilises DNA sequencing technologies to detect Down syndrome in fetuses by directly analysing a blood sample from the mother. In her study, Dr Lau conducted in-depth interviews with 60 Hong Kong Chinese pregnant women (45 NIPT and 15 IPD users). Her qualitative findings revealed that the majority of women who chose NIPT were from the higher income group. They were at high maternal age, who were disturbed by pregnancy-related issues such as infertility, miscarriage symptom, or had a miscarriage history, and wanted to avoid risks associated with Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis.



The findings show that most participants valued aspects of both relational and individual autonomy in decision-making for NIPT. Women expected support from doctors as experts on the topic and wanted to involve their husband in decision-making while retaining control over the outcome. Somewhat surprisingly, the findings do not provide support for the involvement of family members in decision-making for NIPT. 

結果顯示大多數參加者在NIPT的決策過程中都重視關係自主和個人自主。 她們期望醫生能以專家的身份跟她們討論這個話題,並希望她們的丈夫在決策過程中參與,而同時保留她們對決策的控制有點令人驚訝的是,結果並不支持孕婦的家庭的成員參與NIPT決策的論據


The study recommends that information with regards to NIPT need to be regularly updated and made more easily available to women so that they could make timely, informed choices. It is thus essential to provide adequate information through pamphlets in O&G clinics in public hospitals, and to train health professionals in NIPT to support pregnant women in Hong Kong. 





 Storyofthemonth Apr2018

Pregnant women experience the joy of pregnancy while feeling burdened by the need of testing fetal disability (Photo credit: Ms Elaine Ng)
孕婦體驗到懷孕的喜悅,但同時由於需要胎兒檢測是否有先天殘疾而感到負擔 (圖片由Elaine Ng小姐提供)



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Story of the Month - March 2018

Story of the Month - March 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年三月

Southern China is now one of the most populated regions in the world. Yet, prior to the Southward expansion of the Han empire around 100BCE, there were no major cities in the Lingnan region.




Centre member Prof. Lam Weng Cheong is an archaeologist who specializes on the development of material culture in ancient China. His recent research project investigated how the expansion of the Han empire brought changes to the population density and living pattern of the local population in the Lingnan area. Through an analysis of material cultures found in archaeological sites, which include metal weapons, production tools, ceramics, and ritual items, Prof. Lam and his team were able to infer the migration pattern of the ancient people based on the movement of the goods. The Han empire from the north brought with them advance technologies such as iron tools and sophisticated farming methods. Such technologies have profoundly shaped the destiny of the region. Through the works of archaeologists like Prof. Lam, we can piece together of the lives of ancient people and ancient cities from the remains of their material culture.




storyofthemonth 3


A pottery pot with double-f pattern, Bronze period, the pre-Qin graveyard, Hengling Shan, Boluo in Guangdong Province. 在廣東省博羅橫嶺山一先秦墓地發現的一個具有「雙f」圖案的青銅時代陶器




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Story of the Month - February 2018

Story of the Month - February 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年二月

Have you ever considered emigrating from Hong Kong?




A significant percentage of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in Hong Kong said they have, according to an online survey conducted by Prof. Suen Yiu Tung, centre member and sociologist at the Gender Studies Programme. The survey found that as much as 39 percent of LGB people had considered leaving “because of the lack of legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation”.

根據本中心成員、在性別研究課程任教的社會學家孫耀東教授的一項網上調查,相當一部分香港的同性戀和雙性戀者(LGB)表示曾有此考慮。該調查發現,高達百分之三十九的 LGB人士曾以香港缺乏反性取向歧視的法律保障為由而考慮離開。



 Even though Hong Kong claims to be “Asia’s World City” in its official slogan, it still has no legislation to protect sexual minorities from discrimination. Same-sex marriage is still not recognized by law. Prof. Suen, who has conducted multiple research projects on sexuality issues, argues that the lack of legal protection and recognition for sexual minorities is detrimental in attracting and retaining talent. Nearly half of the LGB people surveyed in the aforementioned study have an undergraduate degree, and 23 percent hold a master’s degree or above.




Through rigorous academic research on sexuality issues, Prof. Suen hopes to provide fact-based understanding to dispel prejudices against LGB people and other sexual minorities, as well as to push for legal and policy changes that make our diverse society more tolerant. 




LGBTI activists march for their rights in Hong Kong, during the Hong Kong Pride Parade on 26th November 2016


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Story of the Month - January 2018

Story of the Month - January 2018 

每月故事 - 二零一八年一月

We have often heard that Hong Kong is a city where “East meets West”. But is Hong Kong solely composed of Eastern and Western characteristics? Ever wondered what are the ethnic communities that have settled in Hong Kong since the 19th century? Do Hongkongers have enough intercultural sensibility to appreciate the diverse cultures in their city?  


Centre Director and anthropologist Prof. Siumi Maria Tam’s recent research is on intercultural education and the intersection of academic research and advocacy. Her research reveals that the lack of positive intercultural experiences in daily lives has created myths and misunderstandings towards the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, leading to cultural ignorance and social marginalization. She believes that cultural diversity should be an asset for Hong Kong as a metropolitan city, and discrimination could be eradicated with the increase of cross-cultural knowledge and positive interethnic relations. Prof. Tam started the Multiculturalism in Action Project (MIA) and has organized a series of intercultural education programs with an emphasis on South Asian cultures.  

本中心主任及人類學家譚少薇教授的新近研究關注跨文化教育,以及學術研究及倡議之間如何相輔相成。她的研究發現:由於日常生活缺乏正面的跨文化體驗,大眾對香港的少數族裔產生不少迷思和誤解,導致文化誤解和社會邊緣化。她認為香港的多元文化環境應被視為這個大都市的重要資產,而歧視則可以透過提升跨文化知識和正面的族群關係化解。譚教授在2013年開展多元文化行動計劃 (MIA),至今舉辦了一系列以南亞文化為主的跨文化教育項目。

Between 2013 and 2016, MIA carried out a series of workshops on Indian, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi cultures to enhance the mutual understanding between local Chinese and South Asian communities. In 2017, a documentary “Intercultural Hong Kong Series: Feeling South Asian” was produced, showcasing the cultural practices such as religious rituals of the South Asian communities in Hong Kong, and explaining the importance of intercultural education. In summer 2017, an interethnic program entitled ICONIC Mums Program was launched. A group of 30 Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Nepali, and Pakistani mums gained intercultural experiences and developed interethnic friendships through a series of self-exploration and self-expression workshops. Afterwards they applied their newly acquired worldviews and skills in designing and organizing community projects which brought social innovation to their neighborhoods. These projects show that individuals are all agents and partners of change irrespective of ethnicity.


To further promote hands-on participation in different ethnic cultures, Prof. Tam and Centre post-doc fellow Dr. Wai-man Tang jointly edited the book What are Celebrating? Multicultural Festivals in Hong Kong (December 2017, Wheatear). It is the first bilingual book introducing 18 ethnic festivals in Hong Kong.  Examples include Teej of the Nepali community, Luciadagen of the Swedish community, and Songkran of the Thai community. These festivals show how different ethnic communities have contributed to Hong Kong’s multicultural landscape, and how they maintain their cultural values and social identity in daily life.


Indeed, Hong Kong society needs more intercultural dialogues and experiences. Prof. Tam believes that intercultural education should be part of the formal education system, while simultaneously the larger society should develop cultural curiosity and opportunities of ethnic interaction on a daily level. Interculturality is the basis to the creation of soft power, which in the long run will form the core content of a future smart city.



 StoryOfTheMonth CUHCM JAN

Photo of Ritual dance in Durga Puja, a West Bengali festival celebrated in Hong Kong


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Story of the Month - November 2017

Story of the Month - November 2017 

每月故事 - 二零一七年十一月

According to the 2016 Census, there are over 46,000 non-Chinese minority students enrolled in local primary and secondary schools, many of whom are of South Asian origin. How do these minority students cope with the local school system while maintaining their heritage culture?


Centre member Prof. Michelle GU Min-yue, a scholar in education, has conducted a study on a group of teenage female secondary students originated from Pakistan. Some of them were born in Hong Kong; others were born in Pakistan and migrated with their family for years. They are all fluent in English and Urdu, and while their written Chinese proficiency is not high, they can communicate in Cantonese.



Prof. Gu found that these girls face multiple marginalization. At home, they face pressure from their gendered heritage custom, such as the unequal position between females and males, and the cultural imposition of arranged marriage at a young age thereby making university education inaccessible. In the larger society, they encounter various types of exclusion due to stereotypes about South Asian “cultural deficiencies” and mainstream society’s insensitivity to the cultural and/or religious practices of ethnic minority groups.


Yet the Pakistani girls are not just passive victims of negative stereotypes. Take one girl’s experience on the MTR as an example. When a local Chinese expressed racist comments about her scarf and skin color in Cantonese, thinking that she did not understand Cantonese. She responded by taking out her phone and speaking in Cantonese. Speaking the language of the majority has afforded her a measure of self-empowerment.



Prof. Gu’s research shows that these participants, as active agents adopt culturally, religiously, behaviourally and linguistically grounded strategies to make the most of the opportunities they have or hope to gain access to. In the meantime they devise the strategies to circumvent the obstacles that they expect to encounter along the way. They also continue to establish new relationships with their surroundings and construct multiple identities as Pakistani, Muslim, female and internationally oriented Hong Kong people, in different contexts in which they navigate. While mainstream culture has to a certain extent released Pakistani girls from the oppression and pressure of religion and customs, more guidance and support is needed to realize their dreams, and to make this release less temporary and uncertain.


Michelle Gu
Photo of Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong. Sham Shui Po is one of the districts where many Pakistanis reside.



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