Western District

Hong Kong Island’s Western District – these days more popularly referred to as Sheung Wan – was closely associated with the new colony’s earliest years in the 1840s. Our walk starts at Western Market, an early municipal market building built in 1906. Now an attractively conserved local heritage landmark, Western Market was originally a wholesale market on the waterfront.

From Western Market we will make our way towards Possession Point, the site where the British flag was raised over Hong Kong in 1841. Here we will briefly discuss the circumstances surrounding the founding of Hong Kong and the conditions that prevailed in the early colony. From Possession Street we will make our way along Hollywood Road, locally known for its traditional Chinese coffin shops and other long-established businesses, as well as shops selling a wide range of real and almost-real antiques, to the Man Mo Temple, built in 1847.

Viewed by many casual passers-by as just another Chinese religious site, the Man Mo Temple and its powerful nineteenth century temple committee played a pivotal role in the development of Chinese representative associations in early British Hong Kong. The evolution and development of local elite groups, and their key yet often ambivalent positions, both within Hong Kong and broader Chinese society, will be discussed.

Tai Ping Shan, a bit further west from the Man Mo Temple, is one of the oldest areas in urban Hong Kong. Tai Ping Shan was the site of a major outbreak of bubonic plague in 1894, and we will discuss this occurrence, and its significance in the development of public health and sanitation in Hong Kong. We will also observe a number of To Tei, or earth god shrines in this area – a persistence of rural Chinese customs, first brought to this area a century and a half ago, within a modern, densely-urbanised context.

As we walk onwards from Tai Ping Shan towards Sai Ying Pun, we will discuss the development of education in Hong Kong, with particular reference to King’s College and Hong Kong University. We will finish our walk at the historic Main Building of Hong Kong University on Bonham Road. Several key elements of interest within the Main Building will be discussed, and while at the University we will learn something of the role the University buildings played during the Japanese invasion in 1941.

Please note: All walks require appropriate footwear for walking. Please remember to carry water. We also suggest insect repellent, sunscreen, hat and an umbrella. Please also note that our walks are only for Hong Kong residents.

HK$550 per person for a scheduled walk.