Travel Back In Time: The Old-Fashioned ‘Ding Ding’ Railway

Sound of ‘Ding Ding’ in Hins Cheung’s Song

While you are appreciating the extraordinary piece composed by the extremely talented local artist Hins Cheung, try to imagine yourself seating on the old, cramped wooden seat that have rooted in the carriage over a 100 years – as the tram crisscrosses hundreds of streets at a slow pace, sights of old-fashioned buildings come into your view; accompanied by the recurring ‘ding ding’ sound and the erratic sways as the tram proceeds towards its destination, you close your eyes and immerse yourself in the imaginary ‘Ding Ding’ trip for a temporary escape from the city.

Growing up, ‘Ding Ding’ has always been my biggest fantasy about living in Hong Kong Island. Well, I’m not sure why – it could be because local movies often use it as a symbolic ride where major events or final resolution take place; it could also be the fact that I did not have many chances to tour around Hong Kong Island by tram in my childhood. On a bright sunny day, I decided to spend a few hours on a tram, with no music, no phone, just the ancient, good-old-fashioned way of taking a tram.

Unplugging from the crowd

The first thing that came to my mind once I got on the tram, is the delicate and sophisticated interior designs.

As sunlight penetrated through the open windows, the interior was lit by some soft, natural lightings, giving a dazzling and cozy vibe to the carriage as if the camera lens themselves have been filtered. At the same time, it so happened that the tram I took just had its wooden chairs repainted. The carefully measured distance between each seat, together with its organized seating arrangement, gave a systemic and neat structure to the overall design.

As the tram travelled along the westbound route, large areas covered in greeneries in the Victoria Park and Happy Valley had surely cleared my worries and rested my mind. Moreover, unlike regular buses, windows in trams could be opened. Without the thick layer of glass that obscures one’s vision, one gets to admire the scenery in a much closer distance through not only visual but also auditory sensation.

Video footage of the Westbound route as the tram passed through the Victoria Park

With windows rolled down, voices of the city echoed in my ears – rapid, harsh sound signifying the flashing pedestrian light, residents’ harmless small talks as they crossed the street, rhythmic ‘chug chug, chug chug’ sound as the tram proceeded along the rail, the recurring ‘ding ding’ sound as the driver stepped on the pedal to signal the tram’s arrival… all these music intertwined and mixed together to create a unique, one-of-a-kind symphony that belongs to the city of Hong Kong exclusively.

When the night comes

Different from daytime, the view brought by the tram in the evening was fascinating too. The light in the city made it more attractive and romantic to be on the tram.

The outside look of a tram heading to the Kennedy Town (Photo credit: Vita)
Dressing up with different Advertisements (Photo credit: Vita)
Upper deck with lots of passengers (Photo credit: Vita)
The lower deck (Photo credit: Vita)
It could be a bit crowded at around 6-7 pm in a tram (Photo credit: Vita)

There is no doubt that Tram is one of the most iconic objects that best represent Hong Kong. Despite all changes that have taken place in Hong Kong throughout history, Tram has stood its ground and would continue to serve and exist. To some degree, its inalterable persistence somehow resembles Hong Kong people, who are determined in pursuing what they believe in. Just like the tram that never stops working, rain or shine – Hong Kongers, add oil.

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