Ahead of our upcoming heritage walk, we meet Peter Gardner, who teaches us about the yin and and the yang of Chinese medicine
by Grace Fung
Tomorrow sees the first-ever ‘heritage walk’ (now sold out) staged by theDesk co-working and events space in Sai Wan. And that means that you’re all invited to join archaeologist Richard Lee and our team on a two-hour walk around Kennedy Town in the morning, learning about this district’s rich history and fascinating past. But as we get ready to put our history caps on for the stroll, we speak to Peter Gardner, a traditional Chinese medicine expert who’s conducting talks and workshops at theDesk either side of the walk.
SEE ALSO: Archaeologist Richard Lee: Hong Kong is a ‘city in a heritage identity crisis’
Gardner, who’s been a Kennedy Town resident for the past seven years, isn’t just a font of knowledge when it comes to Chinese medicine. The 57-year-old is also a Wing Chun practitioner. He was educated in London in theatre and dance before devoting his time in Hong Kong to learning about the body in a new, more unfamiliar way – through traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy. He is giving 20-minute workshops before and after tomorrow’s heritage walk, encouraging people to understand the philosophical underpinnings of Eastern conceptions of wellness and medicine.
“I could really start hurting people after learning Wing Chun. I wanted to learn how to heal people too.”
“Some people pass the traditional medicine shops, see the colourful array and think ‘what a complete mystery’,” says Gardner. But he insists that in order for people to understand the complex system and perception of the body that Chinese medicine is defined by, people should first understand the culture and Taoist beliefs that underpin the 2,000-year-old practice.
After mastering Wing Chun, Gardner realised he too had to balance out his yin and yang. “I could really start hurting people,” he tells us. “I wanted to learn how to heal people too.” Thus began the serious, almost academic foray into the world of deer antlers, dried berries and herbs. Today, Gardner practices in a small apothecary-like clinic in the same Kennedy Town building he lives in and he’s looking forward to demonstrating the main principles that underly the millennia-old science – “chi, yin and yang,” he tells us – through a variety of common medicinal herbs he’s bringing in and techniques he’s demonstrating.
Kennedy Town is chock-full of traditional medicine shops that cater to everything from common colds to stiff shoulders. The proliferation of such establishments – as well as the use of traditional ingredients like snake and black chicken – allow for Kennedy Town to act as a microcosm for how our ancient traditions, practices and beliefs have persisted today. Gardner is looking forward to helping resolve questions like ‘what am I looking at?’ and ‘how does this all work?’ To find out some of his answers, join our heritage walk tomorrow and learn from Peter Gardner in person!
Saturday Heritage Walk with theDesk: Kennedy Town and Chinese Medicine (NOW SOLD OUT)
Saturday May 27, 10am-12midday – theDesk, 511 Queen’s Rd W, Sai Wan
Are you interested in finding out about the history of Kennedy Town? Do you enjoy a good stroll on a Saturday morning while learning about heritage? Have you ever wanted to know about Chinese medicine and its place in old Hong Kong? Well, head over to theDesk on Saturday May 27 for a two-hour K-Town ‘workshop and walk’.
Richard Lee is hosting the walk along with theDesk team and he’s a fountain of knowledge when it comes to K-Town’s colourful past. But he’s not alone as Gardner joins him for the event, hosting a 20-minute talk at theDesk at the beginning and a 20-minute workshop back at our co-working and events space at the end. There’s obviously a Chinese medicine ‘flavour’ to the entire experience.
It’s totally free to join and we’re providing refreshments at theDesk. Do bring a hat and suncream for the walk but also expect plenty of shade along the route in K-Town. Bring some water too, however you can fill your bottles up at theDesk. The event begins at 10am and ends at 12midday, however get to theDesk at least 10 minutes early as the opening Chinese medicine talk begins at 10am sharp.
Tickets are now sold out, sign up to our mailing list to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events, including our next heritage walk.