Wednesday, 6 July 2011


My flight back to the UK wasn't until evening so having checked out I crossed the Salisbury Road and spent the morning looking round the wonderful Hong Kong Museum of Art. There was a brilliant exhibition of watercolour and oil paintings depicting the early days of the colony, which vividly told the story of how, after the first Opium War Hong Kong fell into British hands. It's quite in keeping with this place that it should have been a spoil of a viscous trade war. The British by all accounts behaved disreputably, firstly swamping the commodity market with an inexhaustible supply of Poppy seeds from their Indian colonies and then reacting aggressively when the Emperor, fearful of the damage to both the his economy and nation's health, intervened to try and stop the flood.

So much of Hong Kong's cultural life - the horse races at Happy Valley, the tram ride up the Peak, the ferries that link the train terminus at Kowloon clock tower to the main island, the rattling tram that takes you across the north shore - all have their origin in the early days of the settlement. All are pictured here customs and traditions established in a strange and foreign land.

After lunch I dipped back into the subterranean maze of interconnecting tunnels that surround Tsim Sha Tsui and walked half a mile or so to reappear on Chatham Road South at the Hong Kong Museum of History - where the Hong Kong story lays out in fascinating themed detail a clear chronological overview of the territory. It was brilliantly informative.

Time was cracking on and I only really managed to get from the Neolithic hunter gatherers to the end of the seventeenth century Ming dynasty before the alarms went off informing us of the museums imminent closure. The route round the exhibition is strictly one way and so we were hurriedly ushered through three hundred more years of Imperialism, Colonialism, occupation, transition and the return to Chinese rule where we were politely shown the exit.

And so off to the airport and home again. It's been an amazing and constantly surprising week. I hope it won't be long before I get an opportunity to return.


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