Apologies for the blog silence. I’ve been travelling beyond the farthest reaches of the Empire. At least, that’s what I thought, but one of the displays in the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (which is well worth a visit if you’re passing that way) was eerily familiar.
“That,” I cried to Longsuffering Husband, who thought he’d got away from all that stuff for a while, “is Roman glass!” And indeed it was. Over 5,700 miles from home.
According to the caption, “between the second and ninth centuries, some of these containers were either imported to Xi’an, or transported via the maritime silk route to China. Objects from other cultural contexts were adopted for domestic use. For example, Roman glass containers were used to hold rosewater as part of Buddhist ritual practices.”
It’s only fair to point out that the rest of the displays are distinctively Chinese, and even a dolt like me who knows nothing about ships couldn’t fail to be impressed. Here’s one of the models I managed to get in focus:
This isn’t going to turn into a catalogue of holiday snaps. There are plenty of much better photos of Hong Kong on the net, none of which have my relatives grinning in the foreground. But here are just a couple, to prove we didn’t spend the whole trip wandering around museums.The first one’s taken from the Peak overlooking the city:
And here’s Lo So Shing beach on Lamma island, accessible only on foot:
I didn’t find anything else Roman to foist upon Longsuffering Husband. But last Wednesday night as we joined the crowds at Happy Valley racecourse, set in the middle of the city, I couldn’t help thinking this was probably the nearest thing to the Circus Maximus* that I’m ever likely to experience.
(*clicking this link will get you to an article called “Brothels, bars and betting shops”. As far as I’m aware, anyone going to Happy Valley in search of brothels is going to be disappointed.)
So, with apologies for the dire video quality (I’m a writer, not a film-maker) here’s a very quick glimpse of the race on which Longsuffering Husband won 70 Hong Kong dollars – enough to buy us both a coffee. Wild times!