Close your eyes and pretend you’re on the Star Ferry. You hear the seagulls calling and waves crashing against the side of the boat. Diesel fumes permeate the air and the engine rumbles the ship. Now open up your eyes. You can hear the birds and water, can smell the gas, and feel the boat rocking, but still you cannot see Victoria Harbour, the stars on each bench of the ferry, or even your hand in front of your face. You are blind – or at least in the Dialogue In The Dark exhibition workshop, you are.
Dialogue in the Dark, located in Mei Foo, is named Hong Kong’s #1 attraction on tripadvisor.com. This workshop takes away your sense of sight by placing you in a completely dark room (almost the kind you’d want when you plan to sleep in), which in turn enhances your other senses. When you first arrive, you’re given a blind stick and are introduced to your guide who is visually impaired. Tour guides walk you through various simulated scenes in Hong Kong, including a ride on the Star Ferry, a trip to the supermarket, a concert and walking through a forest, all without being able to see.
I arrived with my girlfriends on a Sunday morning, unsure of what to expect; not only did I feel lost, confused and disoriented, I also at times could feel tears start to well up in my eyes. I wasn’t ever physically scared, but that sense of fear was always there – will I trip, what if I hit my head against a ceiling I can’t see, I could bang my knee… My emotions started to rise when we listened to music at a concert. I imagined seeing the orchestra and the flautist wearing a red ball gown, but soon realised that some people (our tour guide included) have never seen what a person looks like, what a flute is, or what the colour red looks like.
At the end our 75-minute tour, we were taken to a “café” where we could buy snacks and drinks. It was a bit of a frantic feeling, trying to get across the “bartender” that I was handing her $20, not $10. No wonder coins are different shapes and sizes! Snacks in hand, we sat to listen to our guide tell stories of his life being blind, including how handicapped-friendly Hong Kong has become recently and how nice some people can be, such as a guy who walked him to the exhibition centre with his umbrella because it was raining. We left the activity discussing everything that had moved us or surprised us and that’s what the workshop was meant to do: give us dialogue about what it might be like to be in the dark but live your life in the light.
Besides the daily (except Mondays) workshops, Dialogue in the Dark also holds events such as Wine Tasting In The Dark, Dinner In The Dark, Birthdays In The Dark and (the most intriguing to me!) Relationship In The Dark. Tickets can be purchased for individuals or groups and must be done in advance, and it’s well worth the trip and the money spent.
I recommend this activity to anyone willing to forgo their normal work, drink, sleep routine and experience life unlike ever before.
75-minute tours cost $130 on weekdays (closed Mondays) and $160 on weekends and public holidays; book online here
Dialogue In The Dark, Shop 215, 2/F, The Household Centre, Nob Hill, 8 King Lai Path, Mei Foo, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2310 0833