Human Cages, Refugees, and Paddling Home

May 20, 2023

"At the back of a beautiful city lies an ugly home."

That's Hong Kong...

The Human Cage

It's been a busy on my side of the world and that explained my inactivity across platforms. We went to the former house to run errands because it will soon be placed up for sale. In all honesty, I liked it better than the current house and I kind of missed it. I missed our neighborhood and peaceful view. Nothing has changed other than the fact that this house will eventually have a new owner.

Anyway...Have you ever paddled back home in a little boat? When I was younger, my brother and I once went fishing in a river while sailing on a boat. Living in a simple home in a remote area of the town, our way of living was just simple. Not every day was a good one. We occasionally had to roll up our sleeves to help our parents make ends meet. Part of it involved fishing in the river near our home to provide food for our table. Simple, but it makes us content and happy.

Today's blog has something to do with paddling back home. The title itself shows the name of the exhibition we visited in a certain museum last year. It was called Paddling Home. The project was launched by Kacey Wong. A four-foot cube-sized floating apartment on blue plastic barrels, it symbolizes Hong Kong's crowded living conditions.

This floating apartment was launched in Victoria Harbor in 2009. You can watch the video below to see the cube house sailed in Victoria Harbor with the captain inside.

Inside the small cube are a few things that reflect ordinary houses in dense places. The paddling process, as the artist explained, refers to a never-ending and expensive mortgage payment.

‘You pay so much money, but what you get in return is so little’ -Wong said.

Truth be told. Only rich people can live a more comfortable life here, and those who only have enough would cramp inside small apartments along with other families. Some would just rely on the government's support, while others would prefer to live on the streets than pay the high mortgage. And some would definitely not want to live like dogs inside caged bed spaces.

The Paddling Home was an artistic representation of the ugly side of this fancy country that others should be aware of.

Apart from the Paddling Home project, some artworks are displayed in this exhibition room as well. A glimpse of confined living conditions in poor areas of Hong Kong back in the day is shown in some of the paintings. Others show the lives of the refugees in detention centers, as well as the poverty, protests, and hunger strikes, outbreaks of Vietnamese asylum seekers, drug addiction, violence, mistrust, distress, apathy, and hopelessness of refugees during the 19th century.

I felt like watching a terrible real life based movie while looking at them. All I felt was pitiful for the refugees, poor families, and people who got shot in the outbreak. Those were the real situations happened at those times. At the same time I felt grateful that I never experienced such unfortunate circumstances in my life.

This photo below shows the living conditions in poor apartments they considered squatter areas here in Hong Kong back in the day, which still exist up until now that not everyone knows about. Different families stay in one room, occupying beds covered with fences to protect their belongings from being stolen by others. They are like dogs placed in cages.

You can imagine how poor their conditions are. So many prefer to live on the streets than live in those cages-like beds. Unable to move well, unhygienic place, not well ventilated, and whatever ugly things you can think of.

To give you an idea of how it look like in the present era, here's an image I took from

So would you rather live in a cage or be homeless in the streets? I rather live in the countryside in the jungle, lol.

(Homeless people living in the subway)

So Hong Kong? Yes, it's a beautiful place, full of skyscrapers, modern architecture, stunning natural features, and more, but under the flyovers, on the footbridges, secluded alleys, subways, and narrow streets are homeless people in situations that no one wants to experience.

(All photos are mine, except the one with a reference)



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