A historical sunday

Today I went with three friends to the history museum in Hong Kong. I’d heard good things about it and have been meaning to go for ages, and today was the day. It was raining in fits, and since (as usual) I didn’t have an umbrella, it was a dash to the mtr station, hiding under covers as the rain pelted, then sprinting as it eased. Hot Yunnan rice noodles with pickled vegetables for lunch, and then finally, the museum! 

The verdict is a definite thumbs up. One of those big, spacious, slightly confusing buildings, and a breath of fresh air from all the identikit fixed histories of mainland museum. Relatively speaking at least. I learned that pearl divers had stones tied to their feet to make them sink, one of the most famous tombs on Hong Kong probably never had a body buried in it, and that one of HK ethnic groups – the hoklo people, are originally from Fujian province. Got to see the warrant banning Sun Yatsen from HK for causing revolutionary annoyance, a replica grocery store from Sheung Wan, and various bits and pieces from the 97 handover, when it stopped. My friend said: there’s more on the prehistoric stuff because it’s easier to interpet, people aren’t really sure what to say about recent history. 

One of my favourite bits was the section on the boat people. They literally lived on boats for almost all of their lives, only going on land for essential business and supplies. There were some fantastic photographs of fish being salted, and pizza-sized spreads of prawn paste being dried in the sun. Included was a replica boat of the type that a whole family might live on, at Aberdeen or Cheung Chao or one of the other boatbeds. I can’t imagine anything more exotic and magical than living permanent at sea, darting between pearl river islets among smugglers and pirates and revolutionaries. Doubt it was that glamorous in real life though. 

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The picture is a rather poor one I found on the internet. To see a better view, I’d well recommend a visit yourself.

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