When East Meets West: 4 Things in Hong Kong That'll Make You Feel Like You're in Britain
February 02, 2022
Hong Kong is undeniably one of the thriving economies in Asia with British influence. Historically speaking, Great Britain colonised the small peninsula of China’s Kwangtung province, which includes Hong Kong, for over 150 years (from 1841 to 1997).
Throughout those years, the east and west cultures blended and created a unique legacy for the British administration that remains up until today. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to know some of Brit’s influence after 20 years of Hong Kong's sovereignty.
Arguably, you can live in Hong Kong even if you only speak English. According to a 2015 study, only six percent of the population are proficient in oral English for communication purposes, but generally, Hong Kongers believe that they can speak English “quite well.” Hence, there shouldn’t be a major problem in your daily life and work in Hong Kong.
Colonial Street Names
One of the most notable legacies of Britain is the Hong Kong street names derived from British namesakes such as public figures and geographical landmarks.
The most popular among them is Queen Victoria Street located in Central, which originally came from a place in London. There are also other “Victorias” in Hong Kong including the major park in Causeway Bay.
There’s also the Prince Edward Road where middle-class families reside in modern flats during the 1930s. In England, Prince Edward is the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
When you explore Central,
you’ll come across another popular street called Oxford Road where exclusive residences and primary and secondary schools were established. In the United Kingdom, Oxford is one of the world’s top universities in terms of research and innovation with first-class facilities designed for study and research.
Other British-themed street names in Hong Kong:
- Baker Street – named after Robert Baker who is the chief engineer of Kowloon-Canton Railway. Baker Street in London is the fictional address of the famous British detective story, “Sherlock Holmes.”
- Old Bailey Road – derived from the Central Criminal Court based in central London, United Kingdom.
- SoHo – the entertainment zone in Central, Hong Kong. SoHo stands for South of Houston Street in London, a vibrant district filled with LGBTQ+ community bars and stellar restaurants.
- Elgin Street – one of the oldest streets in Central, Hong Kong, and was named after James Bruce, a British colonial administrator, diplomat, and the eighth Earl of Elgin.
- Gloucester Road – is one of the few major services roads in Causeway Bay in honour of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester.
Colonial Buildings and Historical Architecture
Since colonialism lasted until the post-World War II modern period, unsurprisingly, British architecture also dominated the semi-autonomous region. Some of the most popular colonial buildings include the Victoria Prison, Old Supreme Court, the former French Mission Building, St. John’s Cathedral, Murray House, and more.
Afternoon Tea Culture
The afternoon tea culture in Hong Kong was inherited from the colonial past during the British ruling. Back then, afternoon tea is considered as a “quintessential British pastime” when Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford needed to go for a long stretch one afternoon, and later on, requested tea and light snacks to satiate her hunger.
Throughout the years, Hong Kong was able to adopt this culture and learned to incorporate local snacks and delicacies and other cheaper alternatives. Check out some of the best coffeehouses in Hong Kong for a perfect afternoon sesh here.
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