Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hong Kong – History Museum, Avenue of Stars Light Show

We slept in late and popped over to the HK history museum. Unlike the HK art museum, this was quite big, and we spent the better part of the day there. When they say history, they mean the whole thing, starting with geologic formation of the Chinese coast, and terminating with the British/Chinese handoff of Hong Kong and the associated territories in 1997. The first half focused on geologic, prehistoric, and pre-British HK, much of which isn't that different from many other exhibits the world over. However, Mary was fascinated with the salt-making description, which involved evaporation the seawater until it had a very high salt concentration, then adding a little dry salt to get the super-saturated salt to precipitate out. Previously thought you had to boil off all the water to get salt, but I imagine this “wet pan” method results in less other sea crap in your salt. I know at least one person reading my blog makes her own sea salt, is this the method you use?

The second half showed a lot more about the city post-British and talked a little about the war; Britain acquired HK in the first Opium War. Britain wanted Chinese goods, but the Chinese required that the British pay in gold or silver, and didn't seem to want any of the British goods themselves. (Sound familiar?) So the British sold opium illegally in China, which they manufactured in India somewhere. The Chinese took offense at this, and attacked some British ships, which sent in the British troops. Britain got HK and opened up a lot of Chinese ports. Eventually, tea seeds and silk worms were smuggled out of the country. While China didn't want or need British goods, the British must have had something of value that allowed them to dominate China militarily. Mary, who has been reading American Theocracy, thinks this is coal.

Another section of the museum discussed the Japanese occupation. The Japanese relocated 1m out of 1.6m citizens of HK into Mainland China for lack of food. Over the several years that they held HK, they tried to indoctrinate the citizens in Japanese culture. The Japanese were trying to create a “Greater East-Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.” That's great, but doing it by force is tacky.

The hand-off from Britain to China is presented in an entirely positive light. For China, it was probably a very important diplomatic victory. We'll see what happens in HK in 2047 when it no longer has to be economically free.

Well, the history museum took a lot longer than we thought, so we decided not to go out to Lamma, the car-less island (aside: most of HK is actually green space). It would have been nice, but we didn't want to push our schedule. We went to dinner unsuccessfully, and then picked up some groceries to picnic on. Then we went to the “Avenue of the Stars” (a Hollywood walk of fame for HK movie stars) from which is a good place to see the light show that goes on between HK and Kowloon (mainland stretch of land near HK). We were a tad late and it was short, but we did see some of it, and the city lights were nice too. Then we walked for an hour and chatted over topics such as prostitution, laptops, dating, and whatever else came to mind.

From Hong Kong

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