Chapter 9 : Hiking to Buddha, swimming with Colonel Noma | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Chapter 9 : Hiking to Buddha, swimming with Colonel Noma

Hiking to Buddha from the fishing village of Tung Chung via Ma Wan Chung, up to Ngong Ping.

He notes passing a small temple and a Q'ing Dynasty grey-stone fortress. There are so many temples up there it would be hard to know which one, but we can make an educated guess about the fortress being Tung Chung Fort.

He mentions Lantau peak, and a stone Pai Lau (possibly Ngong Ping East Gate).

Po Lin monastery and its tea bushes are mentioned as well as a circular moon gate. You can still see tea bushes at the monastery today.

Later in the chapter he describes his journeys on the HK trams. from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan and the branch line around Happy Valley. He meets an old lady and takes her up to Happy Valley cemetery. On describing the tram's route through Central he notes it passes "streets lined with traditional Chinese buildings" (I suspect this may be a description of our much loved guangzhou-style shophouses) and prestige stores such as "Dragon Seed Company". The trams then pass HK Cricket Club pitch, Causeway Bay Typhoon shelter, North Point, Quarry Bay and Sai Wan Ho - changing trams at Percival Street.

His father has a collision, in the car, with a tram at Yee Wo Street, turning right into Kai Chiu Road he stopped on the tram tracks and the tram couldn't stop in time. This was the first of four tram collisions and Booth notes that it was his father who was the cause of the law forbidding vehicles to stop on the tracks!

This is the chapter Booth learns to swim at Tweed Bay (Chinese name is Baak Sa Wan) which is immediately below the Stanley prison compound and thus private. He mentions that, when in Kowloon, his mother used to take him to 11 1/2 (eleven and a half) mile beach. He says this was several miles further away than Kadoorie Beach.

Whilst at Tweed Bay, the family friend tells him about two Japanese Colonels named Noma and Tamura who were executed for war crimes at Stanley Prison, their bodies then weighted down and thrown into Tai Tam Bay - possibly at the spot they were swimming.

This is the chapter where he talks of his mothers illness and admission to the Royal Naval Hospital at Mount Kellet. He also talks about Mountain Lodge ruins and being able to see squatter fires on the slopes of Mount Davis at night. At the end of the chapter the whole family moves back to the Fourseas Hotel due to his mothers illness and inability to cope with the mist at the peak.

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A recent post from Phil's website describes a hike along a very similar route to Booth's.

The hike is courtesy of Pete Spurrier and his book "Leisurely Hikers Guide". A great book that many people who like this site will enjoy.

In May 1948 the China Mail enquired about the prison/military authorities method of disposal of Japanese war criminals hung at Stanley and their bodies subsequently drifting into Tweed Bay due to not being weighted down properly.

The editorial commented the the 'public expenditure involved in taking the bodies of convicted criminals out to sea and dumping them should be enough itself to condemn the practice utterly, since it must be assumed that cremation would be cheaper as well as more sanitary.' The China Mail requested that 'instructions be given immediately for the practice to cease.'

 

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