Cannot believe this is our last day to explore this fascinating country. My knee still hurts, but it’s better when I walk. I don’t think my sinuses are ever going to unplug. (Whine, whine!) Weather was overcast, but again not raining, despite the T1 typhoon warnings of last night.
After another breakfast in the Executive Lounge (it’s going to be hard to give up my two croissants every morning…) we headed out for the Hong Kong Museum of History. We took the subway to the Tsim Sha Tsui station and walked along Cameron Street. Another small-store shopping street, but a little more trendy and less “Chinese.” We took what seemed like a quarter mile pedestrian overpass that nicely dumped us right in front of the Science Museum and the History Museum. Here are some of the sights along the way.
The Hong Kong Museum of History is a different sort of museum that has few artifacts per se, but lots of well-done dioramas, exhibits and short films that chronicle the history of the area from its natural environment, to ethnic groups, to folk culture, to changes in government. It started off rather slow with Hong Kong from 400 million years ago with rocks and fossils. Next came Neolithic man living on beaches with notched stone-weight fishing nets and stilt houses. Kind of boring.
Then it picked up as the Chinese culture became identifiable as “Chinese.” We strolled through a recreated tomb of an early ruler, and then on to a full sized junk boat that we could actually walk onboard. It “floated” in an artificial harbor against a backdrop of old Hong Kong’s dockyards.
Following this were very lively exhibits of various ethnic Chinese who inhabited the area, including an Ancestral Worship House with a recreated “paper lantern lighting” ceremony. Very colorful with all the lighted lanterns. (Once a year, the village would celebrate all the children who were born in the village that year by lighting a paper lantern in their honor, and hanging it from the ceiling.)
Other re-creations were a bridal wedding procession with the bride in a sedan chair; a Chinese Opera stage with singers; papier-mâché ceremonial figures, large and small; and a dragon parade. Also included were dioramas of salt mining and salt preparation; and rice agriculture, harvesting, and milling, as well as a rice farmer’s house.
Then the subject matter went on to the early 1900s and the British Colonial period. Recreated were a bank, a tea and tobacco shop (both were usually sold together in the old days), a tailor, an herbal medicine store and others. One of the first ferries to cross Victoria Harbor was floating in fake water that was very realistic. A short film on the Opium Wars thoroughly explained this era.
This mock restaurant made us think of food and our grumbling stomachs. We need to find someplace like this soon. But we’re not quite done yet with the museum.
We moved on to the Japanese occupation which lasted 2 years and 8 months during WWII. The Japanese were presented as very nasty people. There is clearly a lot of animosity here.
We whipped right through the exhibits of post WWII but did watch the last film about the takeover by mainland China in 1997, or what they called “Reunification.” We both wonder what the future holds for this dynamic and “western” city when mainland China is allowed to change all the rules in 2034. That’s when the agreement China made with Britain to “change nothing” for 50 years expires.
Totally exhausted and really hungry, but ever so glad we took in this museum, we made our way back to the MTR station. The streets were much busier than our walk there – far more people. Of course it is Saturday afternoon and all the locals are out shopping. But before we got on the MTR, we needed to find a place to eat. A little after 2:00 we stopped at a local place in an alleyway for lunch. We ordered by checking off what we wanted from a pre-printed list, but the list was all in Chinese. However, the laminated menu itself did have English subtitles. I was trying to match the English in the menu to the Chinese ordering list with great difficulty. Fortunately, our waitress spoke enough English so she could fill it out for us. The menu was mainly spicy foods, but we did find something – we had a big bowl of wonton soup with noodles, 4 shrimp dumplings, and 3 BBQed pork dumplings. This was a VERY local place – we were the only non-Asians there, but the food was tasty and it was CHEAP!
After lunch, we got to the MTR station on Cameron Street, but, revived by our lunch, we decided to walk a little further down Nathan Road, the most famous shopping street in Hong Kong. Lots of neon lights. Attacked by more tailors – all Indian.
Walked down Nathan to the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station at Mody Road and once again tackled the fast moving escalators of the subway. Got back to the Admiralty station, and another walk through the very upscale Pacific Place mall. They have every conceivable brand name you can imagine. Took pics of Prada and others.
Back to the Lounge for Coke and tea (and they had some wonderful snacks) then back down to the room to pack. Packing is going to be very difficult – how am I going to get all this tea into my checked suitcase? Dinner once again in the Lounge – just too tired to go out and didn’t eat lunch until late, not to mention the snacks. And these little goodies were waiting for us when we got back to the room. In bed by 10:00.
This has been a fabulous trip! Now, I’ve gained somewhere between 5 to 7 pounds that need to come off right away. I also need to do something about my balance – it’s awful. Although I’ve only fallen once and that was the first night of the China Spree tour in Beijing when we were getting in the van, I’m clearly having more than a few issues with balance. And looking in the mirror – well I don’t want to discuss that! Wonder if tai chi may be the answer. That, and more rigorous tread milling! And maybe not eating quite so much…?