Friday dawned dry but dull and cold, so we plumped for an indoor activity and headed back to Kowloon. Emerging from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR we walked towards the Hong Kong History Museum. We wanted to get some Chinese renminbi before our trip to Guangzhou, so we tried some of the ATMs en route, but even though signs on them said that RMB available there was never an option on the screen to actually get them. I concluded that you needed a particular type of card for this. The museum door was surprisingly difficult to locate, but a passer-by eventually pointed the way up an un-signposted escalator) and paid our HK$10 each entry fee.
It was well worth the money. There was a special exhibition on the Ming dynasty, with lots of pottery (which looked quite like a bowl that we have!) and some very finely woven silk brocades. The main exhibits channelled us through sections in time order, from geological history, the natural environment, prehistoric times, the dynasties, folk culture, the Opium Wars, Japanese occupation and modern times. Apart from dim lighting in the first two sections and an excess of pottery in the dynasties, it was pretty good, especially the junk that you could walk onto, the folk section with a typical Hakka house and reconstructed salt pans, and shops etc from the early 19th century. There was also a very reasonably priced cafe in the museum, but we had already bought sandwiches from Circle K.
While in the museum we realised had miscalculated our dates and were leaving Hong Kong on Sun, not the next day – that could have been embarrassing! We sat outside the museum to eat our sandwiches then walked back towards Nathan Rd, checking rates to get Chinese cash from exchange booths. The rate seemed too good to be correct at many booths, but the bank wanted a HK$50 fee to change anything, so a booth it was – and the rate was good.
As we were in the area we went for a quick look at the infamous Chungking Mansion, five adjacent tower blocks that are home to residents, businesses, shops and many of Hong Kong’s cheapest guesthouses whose rooms would make ours look palatial. Chungking Mansions has a poor reputation for safety and security, and is notorious as a haunt of criminals, scammers, drug users and illegal migrants, but during the day it’s safe enough on the lower floors, where a maze of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi shops sell luggage, electronics and Indian food to an accompaniment of Indian music. We could almost have been in Chennai.
At the bottom of Nathan Road we cut through by the Art Museum, a few of whose exhibits adorned the walkway, to the harbour viewing platform by the Star Ferry terminal. Although it was still dull with a chilly wind, we at last got a view of Victoria Peak clear of clouds for the first time.
For dinner we went to Uncle 4 again. This time the waitress spoke English and we got the included soup (billed as “borscht” but really tomato & vegetable) and drink that we should have had on previous visits if only the server had been able to explain it to us!