All posts by Pete

Hong Kong hiking: Victoria Harbour from Devil’s Peak

It’s hot and sticky but we’re going through a period of unusually clear skies in Hong Kong, so the heat doesn’t deter us from hiking. This week we followed a trail from Tseng Lan Shue on Clearwater Bay Road south across Black Hill and Devil’s Peak to Lei Yue Mun.

Standing on the high points of this ridge, you can look westwards directly down the length of Victoria Harbour. Click on the photo to view it at full size. Kowloon is on the right, and Hong Kong Island on the left. You may be able to pick out IFC Two, the Peak Tower, the Wanchai Convention Centre, Green Island, and the North Point ferry pier. Behind Kowloon, the twin summits of Lantau Island are just hidden in cloud. There are some days when you cannot even see Lantau from Kowloon, so this is exceptional.

We started walking through a lush green valley crossed by farmers’ aqueducts and full of dragonflies. Then, in the forest above Ma Yau Tong, we passed a tiny temple to Kwun Yam which is guarded by an army of garish cement statues — Chinese gods, Japanese soldiers, dancing girls, monkeys and tigers. I learnt from Phil at Oriental Sweetlips (a blog, not a Wanchai curtain bar) that these were made by an 84-year-old local gent a decade ago in his spare time. The Trumpton-like statues are crumbling now but the shrine is still tended. Continue reading Hong Kong hiking: Victoria Harbour from Devil’s Peak

Victoria’s Secret: the Pokfulam prison with no name

I head to Victoria Road in leafy Pokfulam, with a dozen members of the Royal Asiatic Society’s heritage volunteers group, to investigate an overgrown compound of white buildings stretching down the hillside towards the harbour. These abandoned buildings have no name, and no street number. What are they?

The answer may come as a surprise even to people who live nearby. In 1967, Hong Kong was seized by a burst of pro-Mao agitation as a knock-on effect of the Cultural Revolution taking place over the border. Chanting rioters confronted the police and picketed the gates of Government House, bombs were planted on the streets, and transport networks were paralyzed. Fearing chaos, and even invasion by China, the colonial government went on the offensive. The Hong Kong police force’s Special Branch (the unit responsible for gathering intelligence) rounded up prominent leftists, and these buildings were used as a secret detention centre for them. Choi Wei-hung, the secretary of the Chinese Reform Association, was incarcerated in a tiny cell here for 18 months. Continue reading Victoria’s Secret: the Pokfulam prison with no name