We wake up to warm, humid sunshine. Hurray! What a relief after the cooler weather of mainland China. My first impressions of Hong Kong are really good. It looks exactly as I expected with massive tall buildings, bright neon signs everywhere, narrow, dingy alley ways and a distinctly Asian feel. I love it! Feeling very at home here already, Nathan Road reminds me a bit of our favourite city Bangkok and I can’t wait to get out and about.
We walk up the road and find a French style deli for breakfast. We only have fruit and yogurt but it still comes to over 12 quid. (170 Hong Kong dollars) Scary! We head off first for the History Museum and what a great choice. It’s so good here, we have a brilliant few hours wandering around the exhibits and I could have easily stayed for longer. We largely ignored the ancient history and concentrated on trying to explain to the kids the more recent events as they have shaped Hong Kong.
In the late 16th century trade between China and Europe began in earnest. There was a huge demand for Chinese tea and silk but unfortunately there was nothing the Europeans could offer the Chinese until they began running opium into the country. The British had a virtually inexhaustible supply from the poppy fields of Bengal in India and by the start of the 1800′s opium was the basis of nearly every British/Chinese transaction.
China’s attempts to stamp out the trade included confiscating and destroying a massive shipment of the drug which had left millions of Chinese in the grip of addiction, but this gave the British a reason for military action against China. In 1841 a British naval landing party hoisted the Union flag on Hong Kong Island and in 1860 Britain took possession of the Kowloon peninsula. In 1898 a lease was granted for the New Territories and it would be another 99 years before Hong Kong was finally handed back to China.
We also learnt a lot about the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong and some of the natural disasters that have happened here including typhoon damage. There are some examples of the so called “spirit money” here also. I love this Chinese custom. The Chinese are very superstitious and honour their dead ancestors in many different ways including providing them with paper offerings of every conceivable thing they could need in the after life. These paper cars, houses and domestic appliances etc are burnt on the graves of the dead. We also see some massive Chinese dragons.
By now the kids are flagging a bit and we head off to the space museum where we spend an hour looking at space suits, planets and solar systems. (Not really as interesting I thought but they seemed to quite like it!)
We go to Pizza Express for lunch and then to the hairdressers. Maisie and I are so desperate for a haircut and I end up having my fringe chemically straightened as well. Whether it will last as long as the fella reckoned I don’t know but we’ll see! It’s not that cheap at 27 quid but in comparison to prices in England a bargain I guess!
We spent the rest of the evening quietly enough, had dinner in a local place which was good and fairly cheap at 11 quid and then walked along the harbour front. Feeling very tired now so off to bed.