Secret Tour Hong Kong offers free-of-charge tours to foreigners mostly plus a few locals. In return, each participant has to write down a secret on a piece of paper anonymously at the end of the tour. The founders will hold an exhibition to display the collection later but a specific plan is yet to be drawn up.
The tours usually take place on weekends because Cheng and Ho have to work full-time during the week. Chung says it does not cost them anything to run the tours, except for their time. They spend many hours walking the tour routes to familiarise themselves with the itinerary and ensure that they can lead participants on the day of tour.
Although they sacrifice their time and shoe leather, the pair say the creative project is for “personal satisfaction and exploration of their full potential”. Chung is always wondering what Hong Kong actually means to the local people who live here. It is with this question in mind that he wants to show people the real Hong Kong through Secret Tour Hong Kong.
Leading the tours has helped him to realise how much he still needs to explore to get a complete picture of the real Hong Kong. “I realised how little I know about Hong Kong. I don’t know some things I am supposed to know,” he says, taking the history of Sham Shui Po and So Uk Estate as an example.
On the day of the city tour, he and Cheng lead the participants to follow a resident of So Uk Estate to sneak past the entrance into one of the blocks. While walking through the corridor of the half-vacant block, the two founders show as much curiosity about the flats as the participants do. They squat, stand on tiptoe and peep into the flats, just like the tourists.
Apart from the walking, eating is a big part of the tour. Cheng and Chung want to take participants to restaurants they would not have visited otherwise. They have afternoon tea in a soon-to-be-demolished cha chaan teng (Hong Kong style diner) in So Uk Estate at 4 p.m. Orders of pineapple buns, egg tarts, pork chop buns and cups of milk tea fill up a whole table.
“I would not have had the confidence to go into some cafes due to the language barrier or lack of knowledge,” says the British tourist Rebecca Barron, as she tucks into the local delicacies. In the evening, they go to a dai pai dong (outdoor restaurant) in Temple Street to sample claypot rice. The foreigners are nervous when the waitress brings frog claypot rice to their table. At first, they refuse to try it, but soon they are giving the dish the thumbs up.