The New York Times, March 8, 1868 p.3:|
CHINA.From Manila to Hong Kong--A Visit to Canton--
The City and its Inhabitants--Chinese Religion--
A Look into the Temples.
From Our Own Correspondent.
HONG KONG, Thursday, Dec. 12, 1867.
The Oneida made the run from Manilla to this place, a distance of 600 miles, in 62 hours. The sun was just sinking as the hills of China shaded the horizon, and I can hardly describe my feelings while leaning over the ship and watching the celestial shores.
Hong Kong is a city of 80,000 inhabitants, and is one of those instances of rapid growth which mark this age of progress. It is located at the mouth of the Canton River [Guangzhou River], the City of Canton [Guangzhou] being about sixty miles from the mouth, and has proved a serious rival to that famous port.
The island on which Hong Kong stands was ceded to the English a few years ago, and the city is built on the terraced sides of a mountain. This gives it a very picturesque appearance, especially in the evening, when the gaslights shimmer on the mountain side like stars.
The steepness of the streets forbids the use of carriages, and hence palanquins are employed in their stead. The streets are tolerably clean, but exceedingly irregular, and cross each other at every possible angle.
From the upper part of the city you look down over the tiled roofs upon the shipping, and the view, though limited, is a very fine one. Behind you are the green slopes of the mountain, affording pasture to great numbers of goats, and sumounted by a signal station. Hong Kong has recently been devastated by a fire, and the ruins are still smoking. The dwellings are commodious, and, in some instances, of imposing size, with grounds prettily terraced, and jalousied varandahs projecting from the upper stories.
Once a week the regimental band plays at the public garden, and the in crowds which flock hither one may see that variety of costumes which characterizes the free ports of the Orient: red-coated English officers, Parsees, Hindoos, Mohammedans, and numbers of European children attended by their Chinese female nurses, which their odd-looking dresses, huge chignons and diminutive shoes with sharp-pointed toes.
We found on our arrival here orders to proceed immediately to Nagasaki, (Japan,) in order to be present at the opening of the port of Osaki, an event which is to be celebrated on New-Year day. The combined fleets of England, France and America are to be there, and the occasion will be one of great ceremony. The rest of the American fleet has gone on, and hence we are the only one remaining behind.
A steamer sails daily from Hong Kong to Canton, distance sixty miles, and since the commencement of my epistle we have made the trip. On Friday the 11th December, I took passage in the Ku Kiang, in company with Mr. GRINNELL, son of Mr. HENRY GRINNELL of arctic fame, and Mr. and Mrs. SANDS, the latter a daughter of the late ROBERT B. MINTURN of New-York.
The scenery on the Canton River is very beautiful, resembling some portions of the James as we remember it in the campaign of 1862. Many of the hills are crowned by forts destroyed by the English in the war of 1857. The celestial soldiers neglected to fortify their rear, and when flanked by the barbarian declared that this was no fair way of fighting. Every hillside is terraced, and as the sunshine slants across it throws upon these terraces exquisite lines of light and shadow.
The bosom of the river is dotted with small crafts propelled by oar or by the use of clumsy sails of mattings, while here and there a huge lumbering junk bears down among them. Many of the former are passage boats; they are built as clumsy as mud-scows, such as we have seen on the Erie Canal, and their motion is not faster than a moderate walk. However, they make up in economy what they lack in speed, inasmuch as the fare for the entire voyage is but a few pennies.
Every craft, no matter how small, has an eye painted on each side of the bow in order that the boat may see. In explanation of this idea, John Chinaman thus expresses himself: "How can do? No eye hab got; makey no fools?" by which utterance he would be understood that a man must be a fool who would remove from a boat its means of vision and then blame it for colliding with obstacles.
Occasionally one beholds a dead body floating down the stream, no doubt the victim of foul play. The boatmen have a superstitious fear of such an object, and instantly pull away from it as fast as possible. For the same reason they always avoid a drowning man.
At 3:30 o'clock we reached Canton. The river here is very broad, and is alive with boats of all descriptions, nearly all of which are propelled by women. The floating population, or those who live on boats, is estimated at 100,000.
Everything swarms with life, and the very idea of such masses of humanity is oppressive. They crowded around the quays like hungry wolves, yelling and screeching at the top of their voices, and profering their boats for your service with a degree of persistence which a New-York hackman might envy.
By some process which is still a mystery, we found ourselves in one of these "Sam pangs" and were rowed to our destination. This was the residence of Mr. TALBOT, the head of the OLYPHANT house, while my companions went to Mr. GIDEON NYE'S. I was cordially received, and installed in very pleasant apartments.
There are but few Americans in Canton. The merchandise and offices of the OLYPHANTS, the NYES, and other commerical houses occupy the first floor of their warehouses, while above, or on the top side, as the Chinese would say, are the dwelling rooms.
The head of each concern is called the Typan, and the firm furnishes his apartments and supplies his table in the style of a hotel. The guests of these gentlemen are expected to make themselves at home. Each one is supplied with a coolie boy to wait upon him, and the house boat is always at his command.
See also: China News - Beijing News|
All of China operates
as a single time zone
at GMT+8 all year round.
Hong Kong News
Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century.
Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 1 July 1997. In this agreement, China has promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system will not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.
The CIA World Factbook: Hong Kong
Area of Hong Kong:
1,092 sq km
six times the size of Washington, DC
Population of Hong Kong:
July 2007 estimate
Languages of Hong Kong:
Chinese (Cantonese), English both official
Hong Kong Weather Forecast & Current Conditions
Hong Kong Reference Articles and Links
Wikipedia: Hong Kong
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