National Geographic : 1962 Jan
One of the government officers who ad minister the city's resettlement blocks, and might be called super-landlords, showed me through the crowded quarters of Shek Kip Mei in the New Territories. Here, in 26 huge H-shaped buildings and a couple of I-blocks, live 67,500 people, packed on an average of more than 51/2 to a room. "Where do you get that half a person in your average?" I joked. "Children," the officer said seriously. "Un der ten they count only half." Seven Live in One-room Flat We stopped at the door of a ten-by-twelve foot room where a family was starting its noontime meal. The food looked appetizing: rice, fried fish, Chinese celery and pork, and a bowl of beef stewed with tomatoes. Wong Yuen Wai was proud of his one-room home and eager to tell me about it. He was not really a refugee, he explained. "I came from Funan Province thirteen years ago. Even then there was trouble with the Communists and things looked more stable in Hong Kong." Now earning four or five Hong Kong dol lars a day -equivalent to about a dollar, U. S. - running a tiny glass shop, Wong considers himself fortunate. A month's rent takes only a few days' earnings; so there is enough left for food and even an occasional luxury. I noticed a German radio that he had consider ately turned off as we approached. I asked how many people lived with him. "Six with me in this room," he said, ob viously pleased to provide for so many. "And two more downstairs in the shop."