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China Hong Kong Arrival and General Impression

beautiful, town, look, quiet and gardens

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CHINA HONG KONG ARRIVAL AND GENERAL IMPRESSION Hong Kong, with its majestic Peak rising in glory above a shimmering sea, is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Look at the outline of the hills, broken and softened here and there by mist floating gossamer-like ; then look at the town of Victoria nestling at its foot, and the shipping of many nations, from frowning battleship and stately liner to the matting-sailed junk and tiny sampan wondrous place ! Watch the Peak towards evening, when the smoke of the fires from the Chinese quarter rises gently up the hillside. See this soft-coloured, vaporous smoke of chow-time, with its mysterious suggestions, as it moves slowly in the quiet atmosphere. Thoughts come to you then not only of the prosaic cooking-time of China, but of burning joss-sticks and quiet worship of which we of the West have but vague ideas.

Climb the hill on a brilliant sunny morning and look round over the many islands of red and grey rock, dotted about on the gleaming water, with sails sparkling, and perhaps on the far horizon a homeward-bound liner with its freight of humanity, goods, and letters with their messages to the loved ones at home. Or look down, at night, over the town with its thousands of lights glinting, and out over the harbour to busy Kowloon, at your feet myriads of flitting fireflies, and a brilliant moon and stars overhead. This is altogether one of the most mysterious, fascinating, and beautiful sights one can imagine.

Who, only seeing this side of it, would guess it could be the scene of such ravaging storms as the typhoon of 19o8 or previous years, when houses were unroofed and wrecked, big ships driven ashore, junks. swept away never to be seen again, and sampans lost by the score, all with their quota of human souls. Such is Nature— ever changing, beautiful, mysterious, with terrible and gloomy, glorious, sunny and joyous side.

Separated from the mainland by a channel varying in width from one mile at Kowloon Point to a quarter of a mile at the Lyeemoon Pass, the island of Hong Kong or Hiang Kiang, on which is built the town of the same name (more correctly, Victoria), was ceded to the British in 184r. The island is very irregular in

shape, about ten miles long by two to five miles wide, and rising to a height of nearly woo feet. The geological formation is mainly granite, and the hills in the upper parts are bare ; but lower down, in and about the town and up what have been rough gullet's, our countrymen have planted trees and made beautiful gardens and lovely walks leading up to their pretty houses nestling in sheltered nooks on the hillside. High up one sees them, and to these the well-to-do colonists are carried to and fro in chairs, on poles borne by two or four coolies. There are very beautiful botanic gardens overlooking the town and bay ; and when I paid my first visit to them they were near their best, and I was greatly struck by a beautiful erythrea tree with its gorgeous red blossoms. Alas ! within twelve months,. when I went again, the dreaded typhoon had broken this and many other fine specimens. And another example of the terrible destruc tion caused by these dreaded typhoons was brought still nearer home to me. The house in which I was a guest, on my first visit, had the roof torn off and was almost a ruin ; the rooms in which I had spent such pleasant times with my genial host were laid open to the skies ; and many months afterwards the house was only begin ning again to wear its former appearance ; because, what ever damage is done, the colonist in his quiet way immediately gives orders for it to be repaired. and goes on with his business as if nothing unusual had happened.

The buildings of Victoria are very fine. I need only mention a few examples—the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the Hong Kong Club, and the New Law Courts and Post Office now being built, all on the front, and largely on land gained from the sea by the foresight and energy of some of the leading colonists. Up behind, near the Botanic Gardens and looking over the town, is Government House, watching, as it were, over the destinies of the colony in charge of its occupant.

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