A professor from Hong Kong joined a small group of us on the ship for a “breakfast forum” where he spoke about the history of Hong Kong and discussed some of the effects of the return of the “colony” from Britain to the People’s Republic of China in 1997 when it became a Special Administrative Region with the “one country, two systems”-style of government. Afterwards, we took a van under Hong Kong Harbor from Kowloon (where we were docked) to the Hong Kong Island side of the city. Our destination was the oldest part of the city, the Sheung Wan District. Our walking tour encompassed the spot where the British claimed possession of Hong Kong in 1841 and many historic and contemporary sites over the course of the morning.
“Sheung Wan and Western District Highlights include a mix of old and new: ancient temples, traditional Chinese dried food and medicinal shops and markets, the rickety Ding Ding tram, antique and curio laden streets, all next to futuristic skyscrapers, upmarket shopping centers and the distinct and novel Mid-Levels Escalator. The area comprises the North-West part of Hong Kong Island, and is considered a very ‘Chinese’ part of the city, and is a fascinating mix that is best explored on foot and one of our favourite walks in the city, good for a morning or afternoon of exploring.” — www.hong-kong-traveller.com
Possession Street (Chinese: 水坑口街) is a street in the Sheung Wan District (Upper District of “Central”) on Hong Kong Island where on January 26, 1841, the commander of Britain’s Far East Fleet, James Bremer, who came to Hong Kong by HMS Calliope, raised the British flag and had a gun ceremony to mark the official possession of Hong Kong. The area was called Possession Point (it is no longer on the coast as subsequent reclamation has moved the shoreline further north) and, after brothels were removed in 1903, the area became a residential housing district. Possession Street’s Chinese name, 水坑口 (Shui Hang Hau), means the mouth of water trench, reflecting the mouth of a stream from Victoria Peak.
“One of the first traditional-style temples built during Hong Kong’s colonial era, the Man Mo Temple pays homage to the Taoist God of Literature (Man) and God of War (Mo). The temple also houses statues of Pau Kung, God of Justice, and Shing Wong, God of the City. The plaques near the entrance offer an interesting perspective on the history of the temple and its gods. The Man Mo Temple’s historical relics include a bronze bell dating back to 1847 and imperial sedan chairs made in 1862. It was preserved as a Declared Monument in 2010.” — www.discoverhongkong.com The temple is maintained by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs), located in the neighborhood. The (TWGHs) are also very active in providing education services, having set up the first free school for Chinese students at Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan in 1880, under British rule.