Hong Kong has triumphed through many transformations. This surprising compilation of images of the teeming city spans the evolution of a twentieth-century Hong Kong to the present day. It has been a remarkable journey in the city’s rich but turbulent history as it rose from a backwater to one of the world’s most dynamic places. As Hong Kong forges a new role in China’s flourishing Greater Bay Area, these quite exceptional images remind us of our singular legacy; a city so different today and yet so much the same as back in time.
Hong Kong is Time’s ever-changing chameleon, performing its dexterity with such haste that an absence of a few years can leave one bewildered by the city’s radically altered appearance. Here the intervals between past and present seem to concertina, as though history has compressed centuries into decades and years into months. Past and Present plays on these extremes to illustrate how much can alter in those sometimes astonishingly brief intervals.
Today – millions of Chinese revere Sun Yat-sen as the ‘father of the nation’. Although he spent the greater part of his life outside his homeland, much of it as a peripatetic wanderer, no one was more single-mindedly devoted to the cause of a free and modern China than this missionary-educated son of Chinese peasants. Despite repeated failures and disappointments, Sun refused to abandon his vision. Of all China’s leaders, none is more enigmatic, a sometimes tragic but most often courageous and many-sided figure.
The Years of Classic Elegance
The passing years leave few traces on the face of Hong Kong. Without the surviving photographic record – much of it recaptured in the pages of this splendidly illustrated volume – there would be little to remind us of the very different Hong Kong which served as prelude to the city that we know today. There, in an unlikely setting of quiet streets and shaded verandahs, of elegant mansions and grandly arcaded offices, the seeds were planted for the boundless ambitions that would – in good time – transform this mercantile community from a coastal backwater into one of the most remarkable cities of Asia.
No other landscape has been so drilled, dredged, transplanted and utterly transformed as that of Hong Kong. Impatient traffic, chic shopping malls and bustling streets contrast with an often-tranquil hinterland and an older place of soot-blackened temples, traditional markets and colonial-era museums. Yet Hong Kong remains – at one and the same time – tenaciously traditional and aggressively modern. This volume of striking, astutely observed photography, offers a wealth of insights into this many splendoured city.
Hong Kong’s legacy as a British Crown Colony remains clearly visible in a string of monuments and statues, gardens and war cemeteries that vividly conjure up the most eastern outpost of the British Empire. These well-tended landmarks have become much more than relics of history, they are symbols of an astonishing story of survival. This guide allows you to stroll through Hong Kong’s colonial history. Each landmark has a story; each represents a slice of history. It is a journey that introduces you to a cast of colourful characters and to those who forged one of history’s great collaborations – the partnership that built Hong Kong.
In terms of Chinese dynasties, Hong Kong’s history has been short – but its tale has been told by a cosmopolitan cast of traders and taipans, adventurers and assassins, refugees and revolutionaries. And despite the city’s pace of change, traces of this colourful past can still be found.
Let this walking guide show you the way. Hidden behind Hong Kong’s modern facade, there are wartime tunnels, backstreet shophouses, ancient shrines and colonial forts – and there’s a story to each one. With clear maps and archive photography, this book will lead you on your own explorations of Hong Kong’s heritage.
High ridges, sparkling waterfalls, lush feng shui woods and ancient fishing communities nestled in rocky harbours. Your mind refreshed, your limbs exercised, and your senses intoxicated, you wonder at the fact that only a few miles separate all this from one of the world’s most crowded cities. And you marvel at the speed with which you have stepped outside the boundaries of that metropolis into this revitalizing landscape. The Hiker’s Guide will direct your course into that other Hong Kong which lies outside the city margins, easing your transition into a wealth of natural beauty accessible to those ready to venture beyond busy streets and shopping malls.
By any measure, Hong Kong is an impressive city. But there is a world beyond the impatient traffic and chic shopping malls: an older place of soot-blackened temples, traditional street markets and colonial-era museums. Travel twenty minutes out of the metropolis, and you’ll find stone-laid trails, sheltered beaches and waterfront restaurants galore. Bring your camera, but leave the camping gear at home. The 33-guided walks in this book are quickly reached from public transport, and can be completed in an afternoon – leaving ample time for a leisurely hike to be followed by leisurely dinner. Let this guide show you how close these attractions are to your front door. An unhurried journey of discovery starts here.
They dwelt in marbled halls, overlooking spectacular vistas, breakfasted amid the aspidistras on arched verandahs and were borne in sedan chairs down to a gracious mercantile metropolis of classical elegance. They were the pioneers, living in a city very different from the one that has replaced it. Almost nothing remains of their era except the historical record and the photographic plates that have affectionately preserved their vanished architecture, faithfully recaptured in this volume of what Hong Kong was, once upon a time.
The first colony to be acquired during Queen Victoria’s long reign, Hong Kong not only possessed a spectacular and commodious harbour, it also sustained a unique blend of East and West that evolved into Asia’s most exciting and entrepreneurial adventure. The entrepôt quickly spun itself a web of trade and a deserving reputation for innovation and survival to become Britain’s last colony of any significance. The early decades of the twentieth century, the focus of this book, marked the heyday of colonial Hong Kong, when the curious eye of the camera focused on elegant neoclassical architecture and the ceaseless enterprise of the local population in colourfully crowded bazaars and bustling wharves. Hong Kong was more than just an economic miracle; it stood as a far-eastern cynosure of empire that continues to inspire to this day.
This is the story…
Spanning the era of tea clippers in the 1860s to the departure of HMS Britannia, bearing away the last colonial governor at midnight on 30 June 1997, Hong Kong: The Classic Age resurrects Hong Kong’s crucial formative epoch through a stunning range of photographs that vividly reconstruct what that earlier community looked like, and what it meant to live in Hong Kong in those very different times.
It accompanies the reader on an often-tumultuous journey, from the reckless gamble of Hong Kong’s beginnings to its spectacular rise as Britain’s last and most famous imperial outpost.
Welcome to Sai Kung, the ‘other’ Hong Kong, centerpiece of a swathe of great beauty that’s a world away from one of the densest and busiest conurbations on earth. A small town with a village feel, it engenders a deep spirit of belonging into which generations of locals and long-term expatriates are firmly fixed. Sai Kung For All Seasons started as a vague photographic curiosity and developed – by way of local tales and enthusiasms – into an inspired love affair with a stunning natural environment encompassing ancient customs and superstition, modernity and intriguing history. Brilliant blue waters dominated by vast green hills provide an atmospheric setting for some surprising temples and old Chinese village architecture, along with a sprinkling of interesting restaurants and laid-back watering holes. For those seeking something different, Sai Kung is undeniably a colourful alternative – and with a dedicated community that wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hong Kong, as it once was, is now well beyond the reach of living memory. Nobody alive can claim to have experienced this city in its classic age, when it captured the imaginations of such writers as Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling and Jules Verne. Today all we have to go on is the written word and the photographic plate. This volume attempts to delineate the contours of that lost world when Hong Kong was very different to the one we know, but it was just as valid. And without those recollections, we would have been denied our legacy and left with nothing to build upon.
The countdown to the end of colonial rule in Hong Kong, at midnight on 30 June 1997, was celebrated with the last grand extravaganza of Britain’s imperial history. The long retreat from the world’s greatest empire had commenced with the withdrawal of the Raj from India 50 years earlier. And now Hong Kong’s return to China would ring down the final curtain. Everyone who witnessed it knew there would never be another occasion quite like the one captured in these pages. ‘End of Empire’ is not merely a record of Hong Kong’s date with destiny but a tribute to what had arguably been the most successful – and therefore the greatest – jewel in the Britannic Crown.
Bold and brash, Hong Kong, with it’s glitzy reach-for-the-sky architecture, is no shrinking violet when it comes to outdoor advertising. Small in size and huge in ambition, chameleon Hong Kong has accentuated its superlatives by challenging its rivals to the title of Billboard Capital of the World.
No other major cityscape is quite so dominated by giant promotional displays blazoned with towering emphasis across acres of building facades – or wrapped dramatically around various modes of public transport. In a city where anything not only goes but is taken for granted, advertising on a grand scale is simply part of the rampant and unashamed capitalism that makes the city so special.
Bold, brash and beautiful is a lighthearted look at the power of provocative imagery in Hong Kong.
Furniture was a relatively late arrival in Asia, where climates and lifestyles were markedly different from those in Europe.
But when colonial incursions conspired to bring about profound social change, Asia underwent a sudden flourishing of furniture whose like had never been witnessed before.
However far its adaptations may have been conditioned by external influence, each country imposed a stamp on its furnishing mode as unmistakably distinctive as its national flag or anthem.
Today these diverse styles are treasured by collectors for their ability to lend unexpected flourishes to Manhattan penthouses or grace notes to Parisian apartments, adding exotic touches to otherwise familiar surroundings.
George Chinnery was that providential and all-too-rare combination of the right man in the right place at the right time.
But for him, our vision of the China coast in the early years of the nineteenth century would remain deficient, our understanding of Macau less secure and our grasp of its humanity lacking in intimacy.
His was the faithful record not only of the greater panoramas in his oils and watercolours but also of every lovingly captured detail in his minute pencil sketches.
Chinnery in China presents a portrait of the artist as an old and crotchety but immensely gifted man, just the way Chinnery would have wanted it.
Buddhism is the fabric of life in Asia, and no memorials tower higher than the monuments to Buddha spread across Asia.
Portrayed by generations of artists and artisans and working centuries and cultures apart, the face nevertheless remains unmistakable.
The serenity of that countenance, the articulation of those hands and of that posture in repose could not signify any but Buddha, the “Awakened One”, whose name derives from the Sanskrit root budh, meaning to know, to become aware.
Pursuing their daily existence beneath that gaze, those who dwell in the heartland of Buddhist Asia feel they draw their spiritual livelihood from a deeper source.
“Few can fail to wonder what it was like to have lived and worked in the palace at a time when the Middle Kingdom’s political power was concentrate within its hallowed hallways. Informative essays deal with the history and architectural layout of the palace, the role of the emperor and the mystic symbolism associated with his high office. It details also their private lives, those of their consorts and concubines and the hundreds of serving eunuchs and maids who kept the system functioning.”
Whether chiselled in stone or inscribed on papyrus, the message of the metaphor first evolved in Asia. Some of the earliest proverbs have survived for thousands of years, encapsulating lessons gleaned within particular societies and yet equally relevant in any other – as indeed they remain today. The 400 carefully selected examples drawn from the eleven countries featured in this compilation of Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century are illustrated with artworks also derived from their respective sources. They appear both in their original script and in English translation.
The aphorisms of Confucius may well be all pervasive and timeless. But the real gems of Chinese wisdom lie in the anonymous and ageless proverbs, of which this volume contains a formidable and beautifully illustrated selection.
Accompanying the Romanized versions and English translations in this edition are the corresponding Chinese calligraphic characters.
No memorial throughout history has towered higher than the many monuments to Buddha scattered across Asia.
The serene form and countenance of these gentle giants represents the attainment of all we seek to be. We stand in awe of their imposing passivity, and we wonder at the hands that fashioned wood, stone and metal into such sublime grace.
Pursuing their daily lives beneath that gaze, those who dwell in the heartland of Buddhist Asia feel they draw their spiritual livelihood from a deeper source.
Ever the poet’s brush, the musician’s flute, bamboo has sounded its quiet sonatas through the lives of Asians over countless millennia.
From chopsticks to tools of trade, it has fed, housed and furnished their existence, stimulated their intellect and expressed their emotions from the cradle to the grave.
Little wonder that many still revere this versatile and tenaciously enduring plant as the evergreen bounty bequeathed by the Gods of nature.
To the Chinese scholar, the preparation for recording his thought was as important as the execution. On his desk lay the Four Treasures, the symbols of his calling: paper, brushes, inkslab and ink, so arranged as to inspire the best of his talent.
His finely ground ink was the medium for transmitting his message, his brush the conduit through which his spirit flowed on to carefully chosen paper.
Calligraphy in China ranked on a par with painting and poetry, as hallmarks of a man of accomplishment and discriminating taste.
This book takes the reader into the scholar’s study and seats him at that desk.