Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
CHAPTER V CHINA
EARLY one fine morning we came steaming to Hong Kong. Hong Kong, as you probably know, is a British possession. It is an island just off the coast of China.
The island is about the size of the Isle of Wight, but is very mountainous, and the one town upon it, Victoria, is built at the foot of the Peak, partly on land reclaimed from the sea, and partly on the slopes and top of the mountain itself.
The straits dividing it from the mainland are so narrow that you could easily shoot across them with a rifle, so we have taken possession of a bit of the mainland just opposite, called Kowloong, a large part of which is now also a thriving city belonging to the British.
The entrance to Hong Kong is through a narrow strait between green mountains, and of course strongly defended with forts and guns.
The harbour is very pretty, surrounded as it is with mountains, and it is very lively and busy, because it is the great port of this part of the world, a sort of Clapham Junction where the different steamship lines branch off to their several destinations as they come from Europe or America to go to Japan, China, Australia, India, and New Zealand, or South America.
The port is, therefore, full of great steamships of all nations, and between them there is a continual running to and fro of tugs and steam launches and picturesque Chinese junks, and sampans (boats), while quietly guarding them lie four or five grim, grey men-of-war, with the white ensign of Great Britain floating in the breeze.
On shore is a city of fine buildings with deep arcades round them to give coolness in the blazing summer-time. The busy streets are full of Chinamen who have left their country to become British subjects here, and of British soldiers and sailors, merchants and civilians, at work in their different ways.
The loyalty of Hong Kong is shown in the statues in the public square of our King and Queen, of King Edward and Queen Alexandra, of Queen Victoria (after whom the city is named), and of H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught.
Then, the public gardens, as well as those of the private houses, are beautiful with flowers and trees, which grow so well in this mild and dampish climate.
A mountain railway runs you in a few minutes to the top of the Peak, and here, in the fresh, cool air, you have a magnificent view over the surrounding islands and mainland, and of our wonderful stronghold of the East Hong Kong.
The Boys’ Brigade here are trained and dressed as Scouts, and I was very glad to inspect them at a review which His Excellency the Governor allowed them to hold in the beautiful grounds of Government House. They gave a display of drill and an excellent show of gymnastic work on the parallel bars and vaulting horse.
One little point, too, which I noticed, and which told me a good deal, was that their uniform was particularly clean, their haversacks pipe clayed, and their buckles polished up, so that on parade they looked as smart as paint.