Day Trip: Shenzhen Walls with Dr. Joseph Ting

Our recent trips to Shenzhen have focused on the new Shenzhen – a lively metropolis teeming with new buildings, broad highways, people in a hurry!

In the last 30 years, the economic boom has changed this city beyond recognition. We now think of Shenzhen as a very modern city, almost forgetting that it too – like many places in China, is part of an ancient land. Yes, there are still parts of Shenzhen that are old.

Our trip will take us to Namtou Old City (南頭故城), the seat of the former Xin’an County (新安故城), founded in 1573. The county covered not only present day Shenzhen but also Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories – before the coming of the British. It has long been the administrative, economic and cultural centre of the entire area. We will see the remnants of this walled city. There is the South Gate, the restored Coastal Defense Office and some old houses. We will also visit the northern city wall – which was built in the Ming Dynasty and a small museum.

Inside this walled city is the Chiwan Tinhau Temple (赤灣天后廟). This temple used to be the most important temple dedicated to the Goddess of Heaven in the Pearl River estuary area. It was first built in 1410, and since then has been renovated and refurbished numerous times. Before 1949, it was the hub of the local fishermen during the Tinhau Festival. Its importance is evident in that it was mentioned in the Xin’an Gazetteer.

If time permits, we will also visit the tomb of the Boy Emperor. This grave is alleged to be the tomb of the last emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty. Fleeing from the Mongol army, the imperial court stayed in Kowloon and Lantau for sometime before they were finally defeated at a sea battle near Macao when the boy emperor was drowned. It was said that the boy’s body was found and was subsequently buried here.

We are very privileged to have as our guest lecturer, Dr Joseph Ting, formerly Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of History. Dr Ting graduated from the Department of Chinese, University of Hong Kong in 1974, majoring in Chinese Literature and Chinese History. He acquired his Ph.D in 1989 from the same department. He joined the Hong Kong Museum of Art in 1979 as Assistant Curator II. He was transferred to the Hong Kong Museum of History in 1988, and became the Curator. He retired as the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of History. At present he is honorary adviser to a number of cultural institutions both in Hong Kong and China.

Dr Ting will guide and enlighten us and walk us through this old part of Shenzhen, a part that many of us have probably not even heard of, much less visited. Do join us for a day of discovering a different Shenzhen, one definitely off the beaten track.