We chanced upon Hong Kong’s Maritime Museum when we were trying to find somewhere for lunch on our last full day on the island. Having spent the morning wandering round Kowloon (see here) we were feeling pretty hungry and assumed we’d find something back at Hong Kong harbour pier with no problem. However, like many parts of Hong Kong, the area down by the harbour and ferry terminal is undergoing reconstruction. We wandered round the eclectic maze of buildings round Pier 8 trying to find a suitable cafe or restaurant without much luck before we saw a sign pointing to Cafe 8 up the stairs.
Cafe style (you order at the counter but get served at the tables) we were lucky to get a table squeezed into a corner near the kitchens. It was evidently popular with the locals – one lady who must have been a university or college lecturer was conducting a meeting reviewing her students’ assignments at the table next to ours and there were several groups of business people having working lunches. What makes it special too is that it is a joint project between the Maritime Museum and the Nesbitt Centre – part of their mission is to provide gainful employment for people with special needs.
Revived by our bowls of soup and focaccias we decided we couldn’t miss the opportunity to explore the Maritime Museum on the floors below. We thought we would just spend an hour or so there and then maybe take a later afternoon cruise round the harbour. Suffice to say a even good couple of hours was nowhere near long enough to take in everything although we did our best!
The exhibits go into incredible detail about Hong Kong’s fascinating history from earliest times when traditional sampans plied across the seas around China. Gradually they began exploring further afield towards the Indian sub continent. There was so much information about the history of China and the myriad of dynasties that came and went over the centuries well before the British Colonial era. Interactive displays would keep children (and adults) happy for hours and indeed the museum runs many educational programmes. Advances in science, the importance of environmental protection and Hong Kong’s yachting and sailing history are all covered. I found the transformation of Hong Kong from a small fishing and trading outpost to multinational business centre with its high rise skyline fascinating.
It was also interesting to reflect how my great grandparents fitted into the jigsaw puzzle as they were part of the missionary movement that gained great popularity in the later Victorian era and spent many years as missionaries out in China (in West China and Shanghai). My grandfather was born in China in late 1898 but sent back to England as a small boy to live with relatives like his younger siblings after him. This period was covered in some detail in the displays – it seems rather strange today but the spirit of the times was very different back then. We learnt about the Opium Wars and the terrible effects that this drug had on communities at the time.
In a nutshell the Maritime Museum is well worth a visit – I couldn’t possibly describe everything here. The exhibition is housed over three floors with views overlooking the harbour on some levels. The light was not conducive to taking too many photos so please excuse the quality of the ones I’ve included here!
Finally the Museum shop (across the boardwalk from the museum entrance) is well stocked with a wonderful range of books, tasteful souvenirs, maps, prints of Hong Kong and much more. We just had time for a stroll around the harbour before dusk fell.
Our few days stopover in Hong Kong en route back to Australia was a great success. For all the other posts in the Hong Kong series see here.
Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved