HongKong's Maritime Museum


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Asia » Hong Kong » Hong Kong Island » Wan Chai
December 10th 2014
Published: December 11th 2014
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The first full day in HK began with a tall americano and a dull danish at the nearest Starbucks. Used some computer time there but was somewhat uninspired by the ambiance... none.... and a guy discussing weighty financial matters loud enough for me to go check the HangSeng!

Ambling thru the glass structures the Pier was attained. The search was for Central Pier 9. From this spot would depart the nite cruise around Victoria Harbour. Walking past the opening for the underground passage, debris from previous demonstrations was encountered. Following a group of domestic tourists, the street was crossed and the pier was in view.

On the way, buildings arranged along the water front attracted my attention. With glee I discovered the Maritime Museum. It was only 10:45. The whole day lay ahead of me. There was no bus to catch.

Info, presented in glass vitrines filed with treasure and interactive touch screens awaited me. The three floors are well laid out and at the top a lovely cafe is ready for lunch or quick snack.

The ground floor housed models of the earliest floating devices believed to be used by the Chinese. Twelve inflated pig skins harnessed together by a bamboo frame, a yak skin tied to cover a wooden frame, hollowed out trees and rafts made of numerous large bamboo poles lashed together were allearly examples of navigable craft. The interactive presentation showed all the steps involved in making a perfect Chinese Junk, the word supposedly coming from the Javanese "djong".

During the Han Dynasty 206BC-220AD ivory and pearls were important trade objects. Sailing was precarious even with a magnitized needle in a rice straw.

The Tang 618-907 sent out silk, ceramics, gold, tea and copper in return for sugar, spices, turtle shell, rhino horn and coral.

The Song 960 - 1279 sent out iron, silk and laquer goods in return for paper, coins and dyes.

During the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644 the first maps were made and silver, potatoes, chillies and corn were introduced to China. It was in this time that my hero, Zheng He (1371-1433) made his 27 voyages of discovery, exploring as far as the east coast of Africa. And then suddenly voyages seemed to stop. The emperor destroyed records and ships. Not until the 1560's was there a renaissance in sea trade. Cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and cinnamon
The Boat Not TakenThe Boat Not TakenThe Boat Not Taken

If migrants used this ship to sail from China they were in the bowels of the ship as per Titanic.
were among the freight carried in huge clay jars in the holds of the trading ships.

During the Qing Dynasty 1644-1912 trade continued especially the blue and white ware so loved by Europeans that our table settings are called china! But with the coming of the steamship the maritime trade began to disappear. The use of the ship routes had augmented and speeded up trade formerly travelling overland using the route of the Silk Road. The speed of the 'tea clipper' kept the addicted Britians supplied with their most favourite drink. In the late 17th century 2,000kg/years came to England. By 1855 42million kg were imported so that consumption was as follows ; 1gm/person in 1700; 0.15kg/person by 1820 and 2.71kg/person by 1900. Many became filthy rich because in 1700 there was population of 6million in England. By 1900 this had increased to 40million. And the addiction continues.

In 1729 two hundred chests of opium came into China mainly at Guangzhou (Canton). By 1839, 40,200 were sent into China. In 1867 46% of the China import consisted of opium. When the Emperor tried to stop this trade, The Opium Wars broke out, but that is a whole other story.



The place was chok-full of info and I just fed ravenously on the abundance of trivial facts. One never knows when such facts can come in handy ... idle banter .... impressive contribution to chats ... episodes of "Who Wants to be a Millionare" or just brain food! Any idea where the term scuba-diving came from? Well ....... scuba stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus and was developed in the 1940's

Then there were accounts of the most influential diaspora the world has ever seen. By the 1900 people from China had migrated to all parts of the world. By the 1930's six million Chinese had left China. There are stories about the "CoolieTrade', the guana mining in Peru and the snakeheads that would be paid to transport people and then would leave them adrift, to perish in the sea. These snakeheads still abound only in other areas, as one hears in the news.

If interested two names are worth a google; Poon Lim who survived months at sea after being torpedoed in the 1940's and Charles Eddie who as a second generation enterpreneur became so fabulously rich that his fifth generation ancestors are
Star Ferry to KowloonStar Ferry to KowloonStar Ferry to Kowloon

This ferry is part of the cities transport sysytem and accessible with the Octopus card.
still rolling in it.



My little school scribbler is filled with facts and names and ideas. This is great.

The Museum closed at 17:30. I stayed at the Pier because my night cruise ship was picking me up at 17:55. Got just a bit anxious when no one else waiting was booked with Viator. All was good. Right on the button a lit up boat tied up to the wharf and we all got on. By this time the decorated buildings glowed in the dark with MyLittleKitty, reindeer, bells, snow flakes,candles and script wishing seasons greetings in all manner of neon. Is amazing how a forty or seventy story building can be made to blaze in light. The light run up and down on the outside of the building. Even when not Christmas the skyscrapers are lit up at nite.

The boat travelled around the famous Victoria Harbour, first entered in 1844, made HK what it is today. Fifty percent of the surface area of the harbour has been reclaimed. When further reclamation plans were proposed the citizenry rose in protest and plans were stopped. The feeling was that people come to HKbecause of the
Swiss  EntertainmentSwiss  EntertainmentSwiss Entertainment

Sponsored by the white on red flag but admission necessary.
harbour, shippng would be affected and the mass of population put on the new land ... 650,000 ... would cuase traffic and environmental hardships. Mr. Winston Chu, a proponent of stopping the reclamation is another name worth googling. He said in an interview that 50% of the tourists coming to HK come to see the Harbour.

Actually I came to eat. But ... after 28 days of three boofets per day I find hard to look at too much food at once. Boofets will never be the same again. Had a panini and mushroom soup for lunch.





The dinner at the Jumbo Floating estaurant was much better than the food served to our Sinorama group. But according to this evenings tour guide the Jumbo is not famous for its cuisine. More famous for the flash of lights, the opulance of decor and thecapacity ...2,300. And it is not even the floating restaurant I have been dreaming about visiting since i was in Highschool and saw movies about HK. The original floater is called Taipak named after a famous literary person. Its little access boat sits beside the bigger Jumbo's boat. I could not even
Penis with one ball???Penis with one ball???Penis with one ball???

Ferris wheel the tallest buildings on the HK side.
see the small restaurant in the dark. One more goggling asignment.

Dinner was had with a group of aimiable strangers; corn soup, big shrimp with onion and pepper, fried scuttlefish, chicken in glazed sweet mandarin rind, beef with cashews, broccoli and mango pudding. It was all good. On the list was fish called grupana something or other. Before the dinner the guide took us past the mens toilet to show us pics of the one alive and famous who had come to eat here ... the Queen is still among the livingfamous who has been here. Yul Brenner and William Holden are sadly very dead. But while back there we were able to watch the very alive shrimp, fish, lobster, and other fishy things swimming around in containers built before the opening date of thei reastaurant. The Jumbo has been around since 1974. The back of it, which I saw during the day on a sampan tour makes you want to get up and run. Tried successfully not to think of that pic while eating the scuttlefish .... its been scalded in fat salted and breaded. I live to write another day ! There were fewer than 150 people
Fish ControlFish ControlFish Control

I suppose he records what goes into the kitchen.
eating. Mostly men in suits. Some peopletook advantage of the opportunity to dress in emperorical garb and have their photo taken. The yurt shaped hat in red was especially becoming.

Once the dinner was done we all piled into a small bus and drove half way up Victoria Peak. Was ther with Sinorama group during the day and will go up using the Peak Tram on a clear day. At the half way point a viweing stage has been provided. Too bad they don't trim the trees. Apparently trees are sacred especially if birds roost in it. Takeseight months to decide wether or not to a) cut it down or b)transplant it. The last thirty km of the super fast train from HongKong to Beijing is two years behind schedule because of such a situation.

Because the guide was not going back to the place where I was picked up she helped me get a cab. It was after all already 22:00. In no time and for $40HKD I was at my MINI MINI MINI hotel. After a shower and email reading I watched Downton Abby... really ...... in English with Cantonese subtitles. A great end to a great day.

Clickon pics to see bigger versions ;-)


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