When you ask someone why they love a city, its culture is inevitably an inescapable answer. So what are the characteristics of the cultures of Shanghai and Hong Kong in my eyes?

As a Shanghai native, we take great pride in what we call “Haipai culture.” In its less than 200 years since its opening, Shanghai has been influenced by various new and old ideas from all over China. It has attracted progressive, intelligent, leftist, and enlightened individuals from different social classes, resulting in the formation of the present-day “Haipai culture” that combines diverse Western influences.

I believe the essence of Haipai culture lies in integration. Take, for example, the lively Halloween celebrations in Shanghai a couple of days ago. Regardless of whether you are a “foreign ghost” from anywhere, the performances here are all our own Chinese plays.

Because of this, everything you see here bears its own unique characteristics, different from its place of origin. And this is what we call modern “Haipai culture.” In this culture, truly indigenous elements of Shanghai are becoming increasingly scarce.

For instance, in the past few years, it has become harder to hear the local Shanghainese dialect, almost reaching a point where it needs rescuing. Similarly, local customs and traditions have virtually disappeared, mixed with various imported cultures. Therefore, I believe Shanghai is the best city in China when it comes to the integration of various cultures, which aligns with its positioning as a city that embraces diverse influences.

On the other hand, Hong Kong’s culture is more diverse. It ranges from the local Lingnan culture to later Chinese mainland culture and even the British aristocratic culture. These various cultures constantly interact and collide, yet they each uphold their own traditions and identities. That’s why in Hong Kong, we can witness a cultural expression that is both modern and traditional. It is not just about the young people in Central’s office buildings speaking fluent foreign languages and living a Western lifestyle, but also about the traditional festivities with dragon and lion dances, as well as the enduring Cantonese culture.

Hong Kong is a fusion, where you can see different cultural manifestations transcending time and space. And this is precisely the charm of this city, Hong Kong.

Visiting the Hong Kong Palace Museum

As someone deeply passionate about traditional Chinese culture, visiting museums wherever I go is an essential part of my itinerary. So, when I arrived in Hong Kong, visiting the newly opened Hong Kong Palace Museum was at the top of my list.

Despite being criticized by netizens for its unattractive appearance, the museum, which took five years to build and cost 3.5 billion HKD, sold 40,000 tickets on its opening day in July 2023. Without hesitation, I knew I had to experience it firsthand, regardless of the opinions.

On the day of the beginning of winter, I set off!

As someone who deeply loves traditional Chinese culture, visiting museums wherever I go is an essential part of my itinerary. So, when I arrived in Hong Kong this time, visiting the newly opened Hong Kong Palace Museum was at the top of my plan. Despite being criticized for its unattractive appearance and costing 3.5 billion during its five-year construction, the Hong Kong Palace Museum sold 40,000 tickets on its opening day last July.

Without hesitation, I knew I had to visit it in person.

On the day of departure, the weather wasn’t great, but it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the Hong Kong Palace Museum. I spent over three hours carefully exploring it, and I particularly enjoyed the Ceramic Gallery (Gallery 3), which I visited twice. The museum’s exhibition range is extensive, covering works from the Five Dynasties to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, from Spring and Autumn pottery to Celadon ware.

Although some exhibits may not catch everyone’s attention, such as this small Ding ware brush washer, it is actually ancient (Northern Song Dynasty). The Ru kiln porcelain from the Song Dynasty is already rare, with only over 100 pieces remaining in the world. It might not live up to the romantic sentiment of “the sky is waiting for rain, and I am waiting for you,” but its simple appearance is my favorite among all the exhibits.

While the other Ming and Qing Dynasty exhibits come in various types, they seem to lack a clear main theme and representative collections. It feels more like a simple display. A few days ago, I saw a friend’s post about visiting the Chinese porcelain exhibition at the British Museum. It truly made me sigh that we have to go to those places to see more splendid Chinese porcelain. It’s a bittersweet feeling, a tacit understanding that every Chinese person feels heartbroken about this history.

What left a deep impression on me, was the hall of appreciation and enjoyment, where hong kong and the world share in the joy together. The collections in this hall were mostly donated by local collectors in Hong Kong, and through these collections, one can feel the cherished value of Chinese traditional culture and the love for Hong Kong by these collectors. Their collections are not only for themselves but also for preserving our culture and history for more Chinese people. They hope to pass it on and promote it from Hong Kong to the world – it’s wonderful.

During my visit to the Hong Kong Palace Museum, I encountered some special visitors: lively and innocent children, likely local primary school students from Hong Kong. They were exploring and learning freely in the museum. Observing their curiosity and excitement, I could truly feel the continuation of Chinese culture from one generation to another. It was a wonderful feeling.

I sincerely hope that more people will come to the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the future, experience the treasures of Chinese culture, and let this museum become a bridge that transcends time and connects people’s hearts.

With respect for cultural heritage and hopes for the future, may the Hong Kong Palace Museum shine brightly in its new chapter and forever sparkle with brilliance!

Brief additional guide:
Opening Hours: 
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday (10:00 AM – 6:00 PM); Friday, Saturday, and Public Holidays (10:00 AM – 8:00 PM).
Tickets are released on the official website every Tuesday at 10:00 AM. Standard tickets are priced at HKD 50, while special exhibition tickets cost HKD 120. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and children. 
The Palace Museum has three restaurants, but they mainly serve snacks and beverages. (There are restaurants at the West Kowloon Waterfront and a shopping mall called Elements nearby.) 
Resting Area: 
The observation balcony on the third floor offers a nice view, although there may not be seating or cafes available. 
Visiting Time: It is recommended to allocate at least four hours to fully explore all the exhibition halls. You can take breaks during the visit, just remember to get a hand stamp from the staff before leaving.

Source: By Shanghai Traveller (Read in Chinese 中文阅读:上海人在香港2 | 海派文化与香港文化)