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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hong Kong Maritime Museum

 Foggy, smoggy Hong Kong is going through a building boom

However, they have found time to refurbish their maritime museum, wonderfully situated on Hong Kong Island at the terminus of the Star Ferry.

The bottom floor -- D-Deck -- is reserved for the CSSC Maritime Heritage Resource Centre, with classrooms and offices, and accessible only by appointment, so ordinary visitors have to climb up to the reception desk on C-Deck.  There is an elevator, and reception is friendly and helpful.

If you are short of time, devote it all to C-Deck, which has a lot of interest, and is also kid friendly. It opens with an introduction to junks, including details on building a replica.  The system of interior bulkheads, said the text, began because long lengths of timber became hard to find.  Then it was realized that the design had lots of advantages.

You move on to what can only be described as an eclectic mixture of themes.

China and the opium trade runs along one wall, dominated by this fine painting by W. J. Huggins, of opium clippers at Lintin, 1824.

The centre is devoted to pirates, including a constantly updated electronic board of current pirate attacks -- rather unsettling for a person who is booked to sail in the South China Sea.  Interestingly, I noticed, the Somali coast has become very quiet.  When I remarked on this later, I was told by Captain Chris Wells of the Queen Mary 2 that it is largely because of sanctions, triggered by the seizure of the Maersk Alabama, featured in the film "Captain Phillips."

Rather predictably, there was a "cannon" one could try to fire at a pirate fleet.  Popular with children, it seems, because it didn't work.

And further on was a fine display devoted to the voyage of the Keyring to England.

The next floor up -- B-Deck -- is even more of a mishmash, including bits and pieces of lighthouses, a figurehead, a display devoted to underwater life, a foghorn from an America's Club yacht, and a viewing gallery with a fine view of the harbour.

Top floor has an excellent cafe, with good food and drink, well priced.  All the profits from this go to a charity for the intellectually handicapped, and it is partly staffed by these disadvantaged people, who are very attentive and anxious to please.

Well worth a visit, even if just for its junks and its wonderful location.

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