Hello again! Long time no see, or as I often say, 好久不见！ Today I’m going to try and finish up Hong Kong, and hopefully Adrianna and I will be able to tell you a little bit about Guangzhou (formerly Canton) in the next week or so.
Hong Kong’s colonial history is well documented, and has left quite a mark. Without it’s colonial past, Hong Kong would definitely be a very different island, and in no location is that more apparent than the random square we wondered into on our last morning in the fragrant bay. Apparently, it once housed the Hong Kong Naval Police during the colonial period. Now, it seems like it’s just a fancy shopping complex. It was a crazy high class establishment, and we were pretty out of place. Fortunately, this didn’t bother us, and we proceeded to take some preposterous pictures.
After our brief journey through fancy-town, we wandered over to the water. We briefly gazed upon the Hong Kong Concert Hall before walking through the Hong Kong Museum of Art, which did not allow pictures (sorry!). There were a lot of different exhibits, from contemporary HK artists to ancient Chinese potteries. Finally, on the top floor, there was a huge room full of imperial Chinese art from several different schools. I may not be an art guy, but I appreciated the beauty and grace of many of the forms presented to me. Adrianna was a bit more critical, but some of the more technically precise pieces won her over, and I think she left with a little bit more respect for Chinese art than she initially had.
Lastly, we went to the Hong Kong History Museum. This is not, as one might suspect, a museum of history located in Hong Kong, but rather a museum of the history of Hong Kong! And when I say history, I mean “from the dawn of man” type history. Sure, the focus is mostly on the last two or three-hundred years, but there was a fair amount of pre-historic nonsense that I just couldn’t bring myself to care about.
I persevered, however, and it wasn’t long before Adrianna and I were learning about Hong Kong’s history with the British (not too bad, according to the Museum), the Japanese (horrible), and the local people. There were a lot of cool rooms dedicated to Hakka traditions, as well as local customs. One of the more interesting ones necessitates a picture:
There was a tradition in Hong Kong (and much of South China) that existed to ward off evil spirits during harvest time. Forgive my laxes on the specifics. Apparently, for several years in a row there had been a famine. As a last ditch effort to resolve this issue, Chinese villages decided that they should take a week off, eat no meat, and build a gigantic tower out of, you guessed it, buns. These baked colossi (that’s the plural of colossus, right?) would stay up from the beginning of the festival until the end, when the young men of the village would race to the top to get the highest bun, which was supposed to bring good fortune.
Pretty cool, right？ I feel like we don’t have any crazy-bun-tower-climbing traditions in America, and it’s kind of disappointing. But, it may also be for the best, since in the late 1970s (date extremely fuzzy) one of these towers collapsed, killing a climber. Since then, the government has banned the making of these yeasty monstrosities, and instead created more sturdy, iron based towers for young men, eager to prove their vibrancy, to climb. This is much safer, if way less awesome.
Anyway, after the two museums we ate lunch and headed home. We were tired and satisfied, and felt that we had really overcome a pretty big challenge in learning to successfully navigate such an historic city. We also knew we needed our rest, for in the next few days we would tackle an even more intimidating obstacle: Guangzhou. I leave you with some of the remaining pictures we took inside the history museum.