Summer: Hot - averages between 23C & 30C

Winter: Mild and pleasant: 17C


Typhoon: Gale force wind strikes several times a year between July and September.









Welcome to Hong Kong By Mr. R. Dibbs

You will probably visit Hong Kong as part of a tour group, which will include visits to many of the main tourist spots as part of the package. However, if you do have some time to spare there are other places within easy reach of your hotel that will not be on the usual itinerary.

The first thing to do is to take a walk from your hotel. Most hotels are located in the main shopping areas and you will probably find shopping plazas, restaurants and all the other facilities that most tourists require within walking distance. Remember to take a hotel card with you in case you cannot find your way back. Most policemen speak English and you can show the card to a taxi driver if you have wandered further afield.

Traveling around Hong Kong and Kowloon could not be easier: there is an underground system known as the MTR (Public Transport Map) covering all of the urban areas both sides of the harbor and extending into the New Territories; buses are clean, convenient, comfortable and cheap as long as you know your destination; taxis are plentiful and at reasonable cost; there are also the ubiquitous, 16-seat mini-buses, but you have to be very familiar with the system and the area to be able to use these. The best bet for the uninitiated is to stick to the underground and taxis. The tramway is still in use, running from east to west across the whole of the urbanized northern part of the Island. Each trip costs about USD0.27, regardless of the length of the trip and a seat on the upper deck will give you a unique view of the Hong Kong street scene.

The best way to get a feel for the MTR is to go to any station and examine the map to determine the extent of the system and the destinations available. Once on a train you will find digital maps showing exactly where the train is and where it is going and announcements in clearly enunciated English will also keep you informed. The station concourses cover huge areas so, when exiting, do check the direction boards to ensure you chose the correct exit or you could find yourself a long way from your intended destination.

Last, but not least, there is the funicular railway from the Central district to the Peak. This could be on your tourist itinerary but, if not, it is well worth taking the time for a trip.




History

1) 3000BC - A stone tool found in New Territories verified the first settlement in this area.

2) 960-1280AD - During the latter part of Song Dynasty, large numbers of the population were driven south by the Mongols and settled in Southern China and Hong Kong.

3) 1840 - Foreign merchants gradually established offices in Macau and Hong Kong as well as in Canton, China.

4) 16th of June 1842, Hong Kong Island, with one of the finest natural harbors in the world, was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Nan King after the Opium War, the Kowloon peninsula was acquired in 1860 under the Peking Convention and the New Territories were secured on a 99-year lease in 1898. A mixed cosmopolitan population, the majority of whom were Chinese, increased from around 4000 in 1840 to 24000 by 1847 and reached 1.4 million by 1941.

5) 1949 - During unrest in China, Hong Kong was flooded with two million immigrants who brought capital and skills to help establish many manufacturing industries. From this time on Hong Kong became the gateway to China.

6) Before 1997 - The population reached six million; the foreign reserves reached 100 billion US dollars with countless modern skyscrapers and infra-structures and had become a world-class commercial center.

7) On 30th of June 1997 - Following negotiations between Great Britain and China in the 1980s the British Government agreed to transfer sovereignty of Hong Kong to China on the 30th June 1997; in return the Beijing Central Government agreed that Hong Kong would be a Special Administration Region with its own economic, judicial and education systems, guaranteed for 50 years without interference. China describes this arrangement as "One Country, two systems".

8) Nowadays, Hong Kong people govern Hong Kong in much the same way as before the handover from British to Chinese rule. Although the economical situation around the globe has slowed down, Hong Kong is still the ideal place to invest and is still the vital gateway to China. It is still the same old prosperous Hong Kong; a mixture of modern living and traditional Chinese Culture. One of the principal delights are the countless varieties of local gourmet dishes that one should not miss.





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Size & Population

Hong Kong consists of Hong Kong Island (51.5 sq km), Kowloon (5.6 sq km), the New Territories (588 sq km), Lantau Island and more than 260 outlying islands.

Population: approximately 6.5 million






Good Old Hong Kong

Sedan Chair

Sedan Chair for wedding ceremony

Bearers waiting for customers

Sedan chairs are probably the oldest form of transport, both public and private, in the world. They were used extensively in England, throughout Europe and the Far East.

In China they were variously recorded as first being used in the Ching Dynasty, the North Sung and the Song Dynasties, although remains of sedan chairs have been found in tombs dating back to earlier times.

Sedan chairs in China varied in style from a simple bamboo construction used for public hire to ornate models used by government officials and the richer classes; those used by government officials carried emblems of rank on the outside to indicate the importance of the occupant. From early days, sedan chairs were traditionally used to carry a bride from her home to the place where the wedding ceremony was taking place.


Sedan Chairs in Hong Kong


Victoria Peak was the desired place of residence when Europeans first settled in Hong Kong in the mid 1800s. Although a desirable place to live, the only means of access was by winding roads up the steep hillside. Affluent persons who could afford to live above the clouds were not given to transporting themselves, so the sedan chair was the preferred, and only, means of transport to the mid and upper levels of the Peak.

The type of chair varied according to how far up the hill one lived: those who lived in the mid-levels could hire a two-bearer chair for a price of 10 cents for 15 minutes or 25 cents for one hour; those who lived on the Peak itself would have taken a four-bearer chair, which would have cost them 75 cents for an hour. A sedan chair could be hired by the day for four dollars.
This lucrative trade came to an end when the funicular railway, known as the Peak Tram, was opened in 1888, and became the mode of travel both to the mid-levels and the Peak. They were still used up until the 1930's however, but in 1915 a two-bearer sedan chair could still be hired for the same price of 10 cents for 15 minutes as in 1888.

Today, the only remaining use is in organized races, which have raised millions of dollars for charity.

Examples of Imperial sedan chairs dating from 1862 can be found in the Man Mo temple in Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong Island.


Sedan chair with police sergeant passing by

Carrying customers




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The rickshaw




The rickshaw was invented by a European missionary in Japan and its use quickly spread to other parts of Asia, principally India in the 1880s and Hong Kong in 1874.

They soon displaced sedan chairs as the popular means of transport and their regular use continued up until the latter part of the 20th century.

Rickshaws were owned by large companies and rented out to operators. A deposit of several hundred dollars was payable in the first instance and a small daily rental was charged for each shift.

In the 1950s and 60s hundreds of rickshaws were in use in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, which meant that competition was fierce keeping fares at a very low rate. The life of rickshaw coolies (as they were known) was hard and the rewards were small and many coolies resorted to smoking opium or heroin to ease the pain caused by pulling heavy loads around the streets for 12 hours each day.
Rickshaw coolies had their own god, Che Kung , who they worshipped at his temple in Tai Wai, Sha Tin. (Ma On Shan Rail -  2. Che Kung Temple)

Their use slowly declined and latterly rickshaws could only be found at the Star Ferry terminals in Kowloon and Hong Kong. Here tourists would be charged around fifty dollars for a five-minute trip around the block, or even just to be photographed sitting in the rickshaw: a big contrast to the time when it only cost 50 cents for a ride from Central to Wan Chai.

Rickshaw at the Star Ferry Concourse Kowloon. (the entrance to the old Kowloon Canton Railway station and the clock tower are in the background)

Bamboo scaffolding in the background

Rickshaw with customer

Chater Road with the old Jardine Building in the background



Typical Chinese junk - in Hong Kong Harbor









From the Editor:

Mr. R. Dibbs lived in Hong Kong for more than 25 years and is familiar & adapted to the life style of the Chinese culture, he can speak fluent Cantonese and plays Mahjong game with the Chinese.

We thank Mr. Dibbs, Ms. T. Chu, Ms. A. Mok, Mr. M. Siebler, Ms. Lilian Mok, Mr. J. Sin, Ms. T. Chu, Ms C. Chu... for their contributions to this section, that certainly helps the visitors to walk around and discover this renowned place: - 


"Pearl in the East" in depth, guarantee you will come back to Hong Kong again and again.

Enjoy!

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