Hong Kong is a place steeped in history, drawing from its incorporation into the Chinese Empire, the British Empire and even the Japanese occupation in the 1940s. As such, the island has been left with traditions, buildings and memorials that reflect all of these influences. The majority of what remains demonstrates the time of Chinese rule (both in earlier and more recent times) and this resonates quite clearly from the off. So today, join us as we take a trip back in time through Hong Kongs historic sites!
Located on the island of Cheung Chau is the famous Cheung Po Tsai Cave, known for being a stash house for the riches collected by notorious pirate Cheung Po Tsai. A character from folklore, and now stories and films, he was said to have commanded a hardly fathomable 600 ships and 50,000 men during the late 18th Century and is represented as a Robin Hood-like character.
The cave itself lets the imagination run wild, with winding passages hidden by the dark awaiting visitors to explore them and picturing it kitted out with spoils of battle and pirate essentials. This is a great place to kill some time and let the kids' imaginations run wild.
Head to the 500 year old Kat Hing Wai Walled Village on the other hand, for a more immersive experience where everything you came for is there to see and experience - no imagination required (well, perhaps a little). Sat just outside the town of Yuen Long, this spectacular village will peak any visitors interest, as will the people who still call it home. The occupants are the descendants of those who built the walls to protect themselves from attacks by bandits, pirates and even tigers and they proudly remain here.
Stepping within these walls will feel like a step back in time to the Ming dynasty (spanning the 1300s to the 1600s) where you'll get a chance to witness some of the original housing, the old guard towers and even the village's moat. Enter through the only narrow opening into the village and past the mis-matched gates and discover what it was like to be one of the "Five Great Clans" where danger loomed all around.
Originating from times of British control, the Noonday Gun became a tradition after Jardine Matheson were punished for greeting the head of their company with a gun salute every time - an act reserved for military commanders only. As such, a British Naval Officer bestowed the punishment of a daily gunshot at noon indefinitely. Despite the gun being dismantled during times of Japanese occupation, it was later restored and so was the tradition. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction and an impressive sight to behold.
Built in the 1920s, The Wong Tai Sin Temple is said to 'make every wish come true upon request', which may be a difficult claim to prove, but it certainly hasn't impacted the temple's popularity with locals and tourists alike, and with good reason. Stunningly decorated with bright, lavish colours and with an imposing arched entrance before it too, everything about this temple and it's setting suggests something special resides here. Worshippers head to this, the temple commemorating Wong Tai Sin (the famous monk of yore), seeking good fortune through offerings, divine guidance and fortune telling.
Interestingly, the temple is home to three different religions: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Not only will you see all three practiced here, but also plenty of incense sticks and the fortune-telling practice of Kau Cim. Kau Cim involves wooden sticks inscribed with oracles being shaken and mixed in a bamboo cup, with the fortune being randomly selected thereafter. Regardless of your opinions or beliefs, this temple is most certainly worth a visit for it's inspirational architecture, lush greenery and cultural significance.