• The Hong Kong I Knew: Scenes and Stories from a Childhood in Kowloon

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    Illustrated by Lucy Parris

    Returning to Hong Kong in 1947 after the Japanese occupation, seven-year-old Mark Isaac-Williams had the whole of Kowloon as his playground. Billeted with his family in the once-grand but now dilapidated Peninsula hotel, his life was full of adventure – from the rooftop to the basement, he knew the hotel's every inch.

    Roller-skating and horseback riding in Kowloon's streets and paddling in the hotel's fountain were a child's dream after the privations of war. From rickshaws to firecrackers and ladies with bound feet to the ever-present rat problem and smelly beancurd vendors, the mystique of Hong Kong in the 1940s and 50s is brought colourfully to life by Mark's captivating and richly illustrated story.

    The Hong Kong I Knew captures all the glory and quirkiness of a burgeoning east-meets-west colony at mid-century. Fizzing firecrackers, rickshaws in the rain, balusters of bamboo scaffolding – the charming illustrations and commentary are sure to inspire fond nostalgia for a bygone time.” — Claire Chao, author of Remembering Shanghai

  • Ayo Gorkhali: The True Story of the Gurkhas

    HK$138.00
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    Ayo Gorkhali!” – “The Gurkhas are upon you!” – is the battle cry of one of the world’s most famous fighting forces. Yet the Gurkha story is not only about bravery in combat. It is also a story of tragedy.

    In WWI alone, 200,000 Gurkhas out of Nepal’s five million people took up arms for the British cause. A further 250,000 Gurkhas fought alongside the British in WWII. In their 200-year history, the Gurkhas have served in places such as Malaya, Singapore, Borneo, East Timor, Hong Kong, Cyprus, the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Although the British Empire’s reign in Asia has ended, some 3,500 Gurkhas are currently serving in the British Army in the UK.

    Written by a Gurkha, this book tells the Gurkhas’ story from the very beginning to the present day. It deals with their history and its ramifications on the nation of Nepal.

  • King Hui: The Man Who Owned All the Opium in Hong Kong

    HK$138.00
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    with a foreword by Sir David Tang

    From the start of the Korean war to the end of the Vietnam war, Hong Kong was a major R&R centre for soldiers and sailors. And there were thousands of local people who made their money making sure these visitors had a good time and got the suits and the girls they wanted. In fact they didn’t just wait for their customers to arrive – they sailed out in a flotilla of small boats to greet the ships as they entered the harbour. And then, when the ships had anchored, they shimmied up the anchor chain to be the first to get the orders for shirts and trousers. These were the tailor shop order men. Peter Hui was one of them.

    But who was Peter? What was his story?

    Well, before he took to being a tailor he had been a famous kung fu fighter; a rich playboy, a frequenter of the pleasure houses of Macau; a gambler (he had run three gambling joints in Canton when the Communists walked in); the brains behind a gang of armed robbers (he alone escaped arrest when their third robbery went wrong); an associate of triads – and, before all that, he had been the owner of the biggest string of Mongolian ponies at the Hong Kong Jockey Club – that was during the war years when he was a leading collaborator of the Japanese. He had once, for a very short time, owned all the opium in Hong Kong!

    Later, after his tailoring days had gone flat, he was paid by a CIA officer to report on events in China. This was during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution, when Red Guard factions fought amongst each other.

    Some periods in history are best illuminated by the stories of men and women who lived through them. This is one of those stories. As we follow Peter’s life – his ups, his downs – we see in sharp focus what it was like to be a Chinese man in the British colony of Hong Kong through most of the years of the 20th century. This is the true, bizarre story of a man who knew everybody and saw everything. He wasn’t a wicked man. He was just trying to get by, like everyone else. This is his truly fascinating story.

    And yet this book is not just one man’s story. It is the story of a time and place – colonial Hong Kong, Portuguese Macau and the south China hinterland between Hong Kong and Canton – seen from the unique point of view of a man who was at home at all levels of society. There are, for example, no other published accounts of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong as seen from the non-combatant Chinese perspective.

    The World of Suzie Wong was a best-selling novel in the 1960s – and this story is its background. If Suzie had been a real girl, Peter would have known her.

    Look inside this book
    Click on the following link to view sample pages from King Hui. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt. 

    Introduction

  • Out of stock

    All The Way With Ray: My Autobiography

    HK$188.00
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      "This is the story of my life: my autobiography. It is also the story of the music scene for almost a century in Hong Kong. In the past, I have mainly communicated with fans and listeners through music. This time, however, is different. After years of hard work, I have finally achieved my wish. I am sharing my life story in words and pictures." All The Way With Ray tells the story of a man from humble beginnings who through hard work and dedication rose to become a giant in the music industry. His passion for popular music, especially that of the 1930s through the 1960s, has brought enormous pleasure to millions over the airwaves for more than 50 years. His daily late-night show built almost a cult following among Hong Kong people, here and overseas, especially those of an older generation. More than just a story of one man, All The Way With Ray documents the history of the music scene in Hong Kong from the inception of radio broadcasting in 1929 to the present day. Against the backdrop of the territory's development and vicissitudes of that time, it charts the success of many local celebrities who credit their stardom in Band Sound, cover songs, Cantopop and folk music in no small part to help from 'Uncle Ray'. LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK Click the following link to read excerpts from the book! Chapter One: The Early Years
  • A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War

    HK$450.00
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    Photographs by Melville Jacoby / Text by Bill Lascher / Foreword by Paul French

    A Danger Shared: A Journalist's Glimpses of a Continent at War provides a searing visual history of Asia during World War II as seen by foreign correspondent Melville Jacoby.

    In this meticulously curated collection of never-before-seen images, readers experience glamorous Macau soirées, visit Guangxi farms, and witness wartime Chongqing’s wreckage and resilience. Along the way, Jacoby treats Filipino fishermen and Hanoi flower-sellers with the same care as the Soong sisters, Chiang Kai-Shek, and other icons.

    Through scenes of everyday friendship, toil, and commerce alongside bombed classrooms, anxious refugees, and exhausted soldiers, A Danger Shared documents humanity’s persistence at a cataclysmic historical moment.

    Look inside this book:
    Introduction

  • Paper Horses: Traditional Woodblock Prints of Gods from Northern China

    HK$288.00
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    In 2020 a large album of “paper horses” – prayer prints of Chinese gods – appeared for sale. How had these fragile things, cheaply printed in the 1940s and meant to be ritually burned soon after purchase, survived intact for so long? And how come there were at least three other identical sets in collections around the world?

    In answering this mystery, author David Leffman explores the history and techniques behind traditional Chinese woodblock printing, which dates back to at least the Tang dynasty (618-907). All 93 “paper horses” in the original album are reproduced alongside biographies of the gods, spirits and demons depicted, providing an illustrated introduction to the complex and fascinating world of Chinese folk religion.

    LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK
    Click the following links to read excerpts from the book.

    Introduction   Stove God   Qilin Bringing Children

  • Searching for Billie: A journalist’s quest to understand his mother’s past leads him to discover a vanished China

    HK$148.00
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    Ian Gill’s first visit to Hong Kong in 1975 takes an unexpected turn when he meets his Chinese mother Billie’s friends, colleagues and fellow ex-prisoners of war, lifting the veil on a tumultuous past in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

    He moves to Asia and unravels her intriguing journey: from controversial adoption by an English postmaster in Changsha to popular radio broadcaster in wartime Shanghai, from tragedy and a doomed romance in a Japanese internment camp to being decorated by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the United Nations. He discovers a great-grandmother in a determined English farm girl who ends up owning a well-known hotel on the China coast in the 1870s – and he finally meets his father for the first time on a Canadian island in 1985.

    The backdrop for this fascinating family story is China’s turbulent century from the Anglo-Chinese wars of the 1840s to the advent of communism.

    Look inside this book:
    Contents and Chapter 1

  • Octopus: The Pioneering Story of the World’s First Contactless Payment Card

    HK$238.00
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    Nowadays most people are familiar with payments using contactless cards, or even mobile phones. But few know that just after Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997, the city launched the world's first payment system using the then-new contactless smart technology.

    Drawing on the author's inside knowledge, this is a definitive history of how the Octopus card emerged, and how it progressed to become the most successful transport-based payment card. Disappointments and mistakes along the way are detailed and comparisons are made with similar systems in Singapore, London, South Korea and Japan. Chapters on lessons learned and the prospects for cashless societies round out the book.

  • LING-NAM: Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan Island in the 1880s

    HK$90.00
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    By Benjamin Couch 'BC' Henry, introduced and annotated by Paul French
     
    No. 3 in the China Revisited series
     
    Benjamin Couch “BC” Henry was a missionary in Hong Kong and southern China in the second half of the 19th century. He arrived in 1873 and remained until 1894. Yet he was much more too – a keen observer, a skilled naturalist and an intrepid explorer. His fascination with the flora and fauna of Hong Kong and southern China are obvious throughout the pages of LING-NAM.
     
    The bulk of his career in China was spent in what was then commonly known as “Ling-nam”, the Pearl River Delta and environs of Guangzhou. These excerpts of Henry’s travelogue LING-NAM, published in 1886, contain one of the most detailed walking tours of Guangzhou that has survived. Similarly so his travels through the silk, tea and market garden regions adjoining the metropolis. Abd finally, we have Henry’s ground-breaking account of his expeditions around Hainan Island in 1882, then the most extensive undertaken to date by a foreigner. He was also a keen anthropologist interested in the island’s various ethnic groups, such as the Lois, as well as the various languages and dialects of Hainan. Henry’s portrait of southern China was built up over 20 years work and exploration in the region and provides one of the most in-depth looks at southern Chinese life from the growth of Hong Kong, to the bustling streets of Guangzhou, to Hainan’s “Island of Palms”.

    “Drifting slowly by a large collection of flower-boats, gay with lamps and mirrors, and richly furnished with black-wood sofas and embroidered curtains… Dire confusion is often created among the slipper-boats, whose anchorage adjoins, by the surging of the steamer against their outer lines, causing them to jump, and sputter, and dart about like a swarm of ants, shell-like craft, whilst they vociferously hurl maledictions at the great steamer.”

     

  • Farewell, My Colony: Last Days in the Life of British Hong Kong

    HK$128.00
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    20th anniversary edition

    In the heart of Beijing, a large digital clock marked off the seconds until July 1, 1997, when the red, five-star flag of China would be hoisted over Hong Kong – and the grand but untried idea of “one country, two systems” would be put into practice.

    Farewell, My Colony is a real-time journal of the end of an era by an objective observer. American journalist Todd Crowell captures a unique moment in history as Britain stoically soldiers through the last months of its 156 years of colonial rule, China waits restlessly to resume its sovereignty, and Hong Kong buzzes with endless speculation.

    He tells how Hong Kong’s Chinese and expatriates, taipans and cagemen come to terms with the impending change of rule. He mingles with the rich and famous and common people alike. A long-term resident, he votes in elections controversially called by Governor Chris Patten. He then follows the selection of a rival legislature, and of Patten’s successor, shipping magnate Tung Chee-hwa, as the first chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

    The city’s pulse is charted by his pen, through to the pomp, circumstance and partying of the day of handover itself. Now, 20 years later, Crowell has updated this valuable historical record with reflections on what has happened to Hong Kong since 1997.

  • Lama of the Gobi: How Mongolia’s mystic monk spread Tibetan Buddhism in the world’s harshest desert

    HK$118.00
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    Danzan Ravjaa (1803-1856), officially known as the Fifth Noyon Incarnate Lama of the Gobi Desert, is perhaps Mongolia's most beloved saint. The Fourth had caused so many scandals that the Manchu Emperor banned his reincarnation. Consequently, when the young child was enthroned as the Fifth, the Emperor issued an edict of execution on the boy and all associated with the event. The child was only saved by the personal intervention of the Panchen Lama and a letter of appeal from the young Ninth Dalai Lama. Their efforts proved well worthwhile, for the boy went on to become one of the greatest mystics and creative geniuses of 19th-century Mongolia.

    Lama of the Gobi is an investigative account of the life and times of this extraordinary man. It takes the reader on a journey through Mongolian history, Tibetan Buddhism and the traditions of nomadic culture, to generate an appreciation of the man and the legends that surround him. This revealing story winds its way from Danzan Ravjaa’s mythic past until the present day – as the people of the Gobi Desert still faithfully maintain his cult-like status.

    Look inside this book
    Click on the below link to view sample pages from Lama of the Gobi. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt. 

    Preface & Introduction

  • Explore Macau: A walking guide and history

    HK$98.00
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    Walking is the best way to get to know any city, and Macau — the former Portuguese colony returned to China in 1999 — is made for walking. Only seven miles square, one can easily walk from the Border Gate to the A-Ma Temple at the tip of Macau in a day.

    This guidebook describes eight routes around the urban peninsula and its outlying islands, sufficient to explore and understand this fascinating old city and its unique blend of European and Asian architecture, cuisine and cultures.

    “An invaluable pocket guide that is perfect for the first-time visitor as well as old hands.” — South China Morning Post

    Look inside this book
    Click on this link to view sample pages from Explore Macau. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Walk no. 3 - From Lilau Square to Barra Point

  • Love, Money and Friendships

    HK$148.00
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    In 1981, David Wong retired after 20 years as an administrative officer in the Hong Kong Government to chance his arm in the city’s cut-throat free market, as the managing director of a large multinational trading corporation. He soon discovered more legal and ethical boobytraps in business than he had bargained for. Nonetheless, he sidestepped them and in 1982, during the Sino-British negotiations to end British rule, he quickly sensed a unwarranted panic over the value of the Hong Kong dollar. He acted accordingly and made himself millions in weeks.

    Wong then visited different parts of China with friends. In the process he fell in love with a young and beautiful member of the Communist Youth League. When he tried to marry her, however, the mainland bureaucracy threw a host of obstacles in his path. After all, he was perceived as a capitalist from Hong Kong. But Wong’s friends used their collective guanxi with members of the Politburo to gain him permission to marry the girl. The title of this volume is aptly Love, Money and Friendships.

    Interlaced with Wong’s narrative are fascinating insights into aspects of China’s long and colourful history and culture.

    LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK Click the following links to read excerpts from the book.

    Introduction

  • Volume 1: Old Hong Kong Photos and The Tales They Tell

    HK$168.00
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    Not your typical photo book!

    David Bellis, founder of the popular local history website Gwulo, shows you a selection of his favourite photos of old Hong Kong. So far, so familiar.

    But then he takes you on a deep dive to discover and understand the photos’ most minute and revealing details. Plague-ridden rats, flapper hats, and chocolates are just a few of the surprising clues you’ll investigate. Finally, David helps you piece the clues together to uncover the photos’ hidden stories.

    Part of a five-volume series; to see the other books, click here.

  • Roving Through Southern China: An American’s Explorations of Hong Kong, Macao and Canton in the early 1920s

    HK$90.00
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    By Harry Franck, introduced and annotated by Paul French
     
    No. 4 in the China Revisited series
     
    In the 1920s the American travel writer Harry A Franck was known to readers as the “Prince of Vagabonds”. His wanderings were family affairs and he arrived in southern China in 1923 with his wife, their two young children and his mother. Franck always claimed that his travel plans were random, subject to chance encounters and whatever caught his eye.
     
    He arrives in a Hong Kong which is building modern department stores and large houses while labourers sleep on straw mats beside the harbour. In Macao he visits temples, ancient forts and, of course, casinos. And then to Canton (Guangzhou), a city in flux where new buildings are transforming the waterfront, the ancient city walls are being demolished, and the traditional rookeries of small lanes are being replaced by wide asphalt roads as the city rapidly modernises. Franck also provides us with a highly detailed description of Shamian Island a year after the tumultuous strikes and boycotts that meant naval gunboats and barbed wire still protected the small foreign enclave.
  • Where Strange Gods Call: Harry Hervey’s 1920s Hong Kong, Macao and Canton Sojourns

    HK$90.00
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    By Harry Hervey, introduced and annotated by Paul French
     
    No. 1 in the China Revisited series
     
    As a young man in the southern United States in the early years of the twentieth century Harry Hervey dreamt of travelling to Asia. He also dreamt of writing novels, movie scripts and travel books. He would do all these things. Eventually, in 1923, Hervey managed to find a way to get to the Far East working on a cruise liner. He was to spend time sojourning in Hong Kong, Macao and Guangzhou. His impressions of his travels through southern China, contained in his 1924 travelogue Where Strange Gods Call, is both lyrical and detailed, as well as atmospheric and informative. Walking from Central to Kennedy Town; the basement “dives” of Belcher’s Street to the private dining rooms of Queen’s Road; Macao’s Praia Grande to its infamous fan-tan houses, Hervey is a fascinating flâneur and guide. So too in Guangzhou, a city in upheaval, where Hervey encounters those fleeing warlord violence in the north and is granted an audience with Dr Sun Yat-sen.
     
    Hervey’s impressions of China would stay with him for the rest of his life, not least in his treatment for the 1932 movie Shanghai Express. Sadly, in the intervening century since the first publication of Where Strange Gods Call in 1924, Hervey’s name and work have been largely forgotten. Yet his early travel writing was to influence his later bestselling novels, popular short stories and Hollywood screenplays which, in turn, influenced American perceptions of Hong Kong, Macao and China.

    This publication of Hervey’s impressions of southern China also includes the sketches of his good friend the Savannah artist Christopher Murphy Jr., which were included in the first edition of Where Strange Gods Call and bring Hervey’s descriptions further to life.

    “Approaching Canton we were gliding past ugly, ramshackle dwellings and go-downs; grass-thatched house-boats, sampans, junks, and lighters, and millions of roofs that were flung in uneven terraces against the sky.”

     

  • The Slightest Chance

    HK$118.00
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    In war, you can pretend to be someone you’re not. Yet, in war, people find out who you really are.

    Hong Kong, 1941. Anglo-Australian civil servant Dominic Sotherly’s colonial sojourn in Hong Kong becomes complicated by his double life in both war and love. Enigmatic Englishwoman Gwen Harmison possesses secrets of her own – plus an unrelenting desire for liberty. Inscrutable Eurasian Chester Drake is but one of Gwen’s secrets.

    From gaiety at the Peninsula Hotel to persecution both inside and outside of internment, the story journeys from war-ravaged Hong Kong to war-weary China.

    From real history, meet the one-legged Chinese admiral who led Hong Kong’s daring ‘Great Escape’ and the Japanese Christian soldier who risked his life for the enemy. And, uniquely during the occupation of Hong Kong, discover how one Englishwoman made history in her defiance of Imperial Japan.

  • Volume 2: Old Hong Kong Photos and The Tales They Tell

    HK$168.00
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    • AUD: AU$32.33
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    Not your typical photo book!

    David Bellis puts more of his favourite old Hong Kong photos under the magnifying glass, revealing the photos’ secrets, and uncovering their hidden stories. Flying Italian miners, and the most beautiful woman you’ll never see are just two of the surprises in store for you.

    David runs the popular local history website Gwulo, home to over 15,000 photographs of old Hong Kong.

    Part of a five-volume series; to see the other books, click here.

  • Volume 5: Old Hong Kong Photos and The Tales They Tell

    HK$168.00
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    Not your typical photo book!

    Meet the people of old Hong Kong through these rare photos, dating from the 1950s right back to the 1880s. There are cobblers, conjurors, compradores, croquet players, soldiers, sailors, Scottish golfers, hawkers, a Hungarian motorcyclist, and more! Who among them called Hong Kong ‘home’? Join David Bellis to find out, as he uncovers clues in the photos’ details that reveal each person’s story.

    David runs Gwulo.com, the award-winning local history website with over 30,000 photos of old Hong Kong.

    Part of a five-volume series; to see the other books, click here.

  • Volume 4: Old Hong Kong Photos and The Tales They Tell

    HK$168.00
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    • CNY: CN¥155.74
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    • EUR: €19.80
    • AUD: AU$32.33
    • CAD: CA$29.34
    • JPY: ¥3,380

    Not your typical photo book!

    Revisit old Hong Kong through this book’s collection of rare photos, many of them over 100 years old. Then join David to explore the photos’ details, and so discover their hidden stories: the women who toiled up the Peak’s slopes each day, carrying heavy loads of bricks and coal on their shoulders, buried treasure still waiting to be found, Kowloon’s vanishing hills, and many more.

    David runs the award-winning local history website Gwulo, home to over 25,000 photos of old Hong Kong.

    Part of a five-volume series; to see the other books, click here.

  • Volume 3: Old Hong Kong Photos and The Tales They Tell

    HK$168.00
    • USD: US$21.51
    • CNY: CN¥155.74
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    • EUR: €19.80
    • AUD: AU$32.33
    • CAD: CA$29.34
    • JPY: ¥3,380

    Not your typical photo book!

    Grab your flippers, mask, and magnifying glass – Volume 3 is full of old photos of people in, on, under, and around Hong Kong’s famous Victoria Harbour. Many of the photos are published for the first time, and although they’re old, they are sharp and packed with detail. So join David Bellis in uncovering the photos’ secrets, deciphering their stories, and meeting the people of old Hong Kong.

    David runs the award-winning local history website Gwulo, home to over 20,000 photos of old Hong Kong.

    Part of a five-volume series; to see the other books, click here.

  • Wanderings in China: Hong Kong and Canton, Christmas and New Year, 1878/1879

    HK$90.00
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    By Constance Gordon-Cumming, introduced and annotated by Paul French
     
    No. 2 in the China Revisited series
     
    Inveterate Victorian traveller and prolific artist Constance Gordon-Cumming, born in Glasgow in 1837, roamed far and wide from the Scottish Highlands to the American West; the islands of Hawaii to southern China. Even among her many adventures, her 1878/1879 trip to Hong Kong was momentous. Gordon-Cumming arrived just before Christmas 1878 to inadvertently witness the terrible “Great Fire” of Hong Kong that swept devastatingly through the Central and Mid-Levels districts.
     
    She then moved on to explorations of the streets, temples and Chinese New Year festivities in Canton (Guangzhou). Her detailed descriptions of the teeming streets of the city’s commercial districts and New Year temple fairs contrast with her temporary residence in the relative calm of the foreign enclave on Shamian Island. Venturing out of the city on expeditions, Gordon-Cumming gives us perhaps one of the most complete descriptions of the now long-gone market gardens of Fa-tee with the famed nurseries that cultivated a bewildering variety of flowers and ornamental trees.

    Finally Gordon-Cumming returns to Hong Kong to observe the annual "Derby Day" races at Happy Valley in February 1879, a major event on Hong Kong’s Victorian-era social calendar. Gordon-Cumming is at one and the same time that rare travel writer who, while plunging into the throngs and crowds, manages to observe the minutiae of life around her.

    “The flames rapidly gained the mastery, suddenly bursting from fresh houses here and there, where least suspected, and spreading from street to street. That night we stood watching this appallingly magnificent scene – the flames rising and falling, leaping and dancing, now bursting from some fresh house, shooting up in tongues of fire, now rolling in dense volumes of black smoke.”