So for Mother's Day the wife and I brought her apoh (mother's mother) to the Hong Kong Museum of History. Updating pt. 1 I did find a replica of the order banishing "Sun Yat Sin" from Hong Kong for actions against "the Manchus" that might affect the stability of Hong Kong. It's upstairs, upstairs in a little single display case devoted to Hong Kong's involvement in the 1911 Revolution. Compare this to the large display in the entrance hall on Sun Yat Sen that does not mention this action by the Hong Kong government.
The bonus for the day was the discovery on Friday of four earthen pots in a drainage excavation 2 meters down in Mongkok. The pots date from the Jin Dynasty (AD 265-419) and are in amazing condition (in one piece and you can spot a little glazing on one and sea sand in one of the cooking vessels... yes, Mongkok used to be by Victoria Harbour.) A woman from Ming Pao, one of the local Chinese language papers, asked if I spoke English and then asked me a few questions about the pots. No idea if it will end up in print.
It was good to go to the history museum with apoh. She was born in 1926 and moved by herself to Hong Kong in 1940 at the age of 14 from a farming village in Guangdong. She snuck out of Hong Kong back to Guangdong after the Japanese occupation and returned back to Hong Kong after the Japanese defeat.
We skipped the first few sections of the musuem on pre-historic Hong Kong to move to the culture displays. It was fun to see the look on her eyes as she saw the Farm House and explained to us what each item was used for. The foot-powered rice huller. The wood-fired stove. The corn husk rain coats. How men would sleep in the lofts and women below, because men weren't supposed to rest beneath women. Then came the wedding display and she pointed out the formalised engagement letters and pre-marriage exchanges between family parents and the style of wedding clothes she used. She said she still has her wedding dress somewhere at home, which is surprising considering how little space Hong Kong homes have, hers included. Then we saw the Cantonese Opera display and some of the religious festival displays. This brought to my attention how the English and Cantonese naming of a place can be quite different. Tin Hau's birthday is tomorrow, so we paid a lot of attention to the old photos of the largest Tin Hau temple in Hong Kong. It's located on the sea coast (makes sense for the goddess of the sea) in the New Territories. The English name for the spot is Joss House Bay. ("joss" means something like luck and the incense burned in a temple are called "joss sticks" in English, so I guess the temple where joss sticks were burned might be thought of as a "joss house".) The Cantonese name for the spot is "dai miu wan" which translates to English as "big temple bay".
The next display that got a big reaction out of apoh was on the 3 years and 8 months of Japanese occupation. The sound of the air raid sirens brought a lot of emotion to her face. When she saw the photo of Japanese soldiers riding the bus with Hong Kongers, she pointed to the Kempetei soldier and not the Japanese naval officer. The Kempetei were the much hated Japanese secret police, who were responsible for a lot of the torture and mayhem of both locals and Allied citizens in Hong Kong. She told of putting mud on her face to look ugly (the anti-makeup) to avoid being taken by Japanese soldiers. (Rape was the usual reason for taking women.) History is much more interesting, when you have someone who was there to comment on the events.
The final surprise of the afternoon came at the very end. There is a large photo of the 1997 Handover Ceremony hanging on a wall. All of the key players standing in a row on the platform. Apoh pointed to Jiang Zemin, standing between Li Peng and Prince Charles, and got a scowl on her face. I've never heard her comment on contemporary politics, so the finger pointing came as a bit of a shock and the image will stick with me. Sometimes it's the little things and in this case, it's something that reinforces my own impressions and feelings.