Aug 02, 2017

Writer and Historical Tour Guide Jason Wordie

Jason is a well-established local writer who conducts historical walks specifically for Hong Kong residents. As he says: "Local people all have some passive knowledge and my information helps them 'connect the dots' in their own minds and fill in the missing pieces within their own pre-existing understanding about Hong Kong." He also regularly lectures to clubs, associations and leading corporations on aspects of Hong Kong history, culture and society. He has written several books on Hong Kong and Macao and is a weekly contributor to the South China Morning Post.

Born in Australia, Jason came to Hong Kong in 1988 following a sojourn in Malaysia in his late teens. He spent the next six years working with the Brigade of Gurkhas, mostly based at Sek Kong in the New Territories. He was a Council member with the Royal Asiatic Society for several years and also served with the Royal Hong Kong Regiment from 1990 to 1992. In 1994, with redundancy looming as the Hong Kong Handover approached, Jason enrolled at Hong Kong University to study History. By then, he was surer of where life was headed and he realised an ambition that he'd intermittently harboured since childhood. He spent the next three years engrossed in his studies. His first book Ruins of War, which was co-authored with Ko Tim-kung, was published in 1996.

His historical walks first began when one of his University lecturers asked him to conduct an historical walk around Western district for a group of ladies whom she’d originally been asked to lead. It was a great success for both the participants and Jason himself. He soon did it again. This early and quite unexpected beginning soon led to other walks with the School of Oriental and African Studies Alumni Association in Hong Kong, then the Canadian Club. Other groups such as the Asia Society, Royal Geographical Society, Helena May, the Hong Kong Club, the YWCA and many other local community groups followed later.

Over the next few years, this part-time activity began to take on a life of its own. As Jason’s writing career steadily progressed, he continued the walks during his free time and also started lecturing on thematic local history subjects to select groups. In 1998, he began writing a regular column for the South China Morning Post, which he has continued to this day under the heading Then and Now.

He has made his home in the New Territories for nearly thirty years - still at Sek Kong. Jason thoroughly enjoys what he considers to be a very satisfying life, doing what he loves and not being bound by a desk-bound commuter-like existence. "For a true outdoors person and a keen gardener, l;ike myself, life can sometimes seem like one long holiday," he quips. 

Besides the walking tours and his writing, Jason offers lectures that can be individually tailored to suit any sort of occasion or event. These normally run for 45 to 60 minutes followed by a 10 to 15 minutes question and answer session. Such lectures are ideal for client entertainment or special corporate events, but Jason also does private parties and some dinner functions on request.

Amongst his lengthy repertoire, Jason singles out some walks as his favourites. "The Central walk is one of the best. Long-term residents always think they know this area well, but soon realise there’s a lot more to learn from features they may have walked past for years without really noticing. The Happy Valley cemeteries walk offers a rich assortment of social and community history and significant botanical interest as well. There is such a wide range of exotic and indigenous trees and shrubs to be examined, even in this one small area. The Shing Mun walk combines insights into Hong Kong's war-time history, with some outstanding natural scenery and a much deeper understanding of Hong Kong's unexpected history regarding its water supply. Finally, the Kowloon City walk, which starts in Lok Fu, explains how Hong Kong’s public housing programme began, as well as offering some quite detailed discussion on the old Kowloon Walled City area itself," he reveals.

Even long-time residents will be captivated by Jason’s depth of knowledge and understanding about even the more mundane parts of Hong Kong. His walks a truly fascinating and will leave many surprised by what they didn't know about the city in which they live.

#JasonWordie #historicalwalks #hongkonghistory #mozaiclub

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