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“My Sojourn in Hong Kong: Excerpts” by Wang Tao Essay

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Updated: Oct 25th, 2020

The Details Used by Wang Tao to Express His Impressions of Hong Kong

In his article “My Sojourn in Hong Kong: Excerpts,” Wang Tao depicts his recollections of visiting Hong Kong and the feelings of his stay there. The author employs a variety of ways to make his description sound appealing. Tao uses plenty of epithets, poetic words, and enumerations while telling the story of his sojourn in Hong Kong. The author focuses on several themes concerned with the city that made the biggest impression on him: nature, people, streets, and education. Tao does not divide his narration into parts based on these topics. Rather, he returns to them from time to time, adding new interesting details and giving more insight into the life of Hong Kong.

The description of nature occupies the most prominent place in Tao’s story. The author employs a rich choice of epithets and poetic words to make his narration exciting and to present the most accurate picture of what he has seen. In the very beginning, Tao mentions that the hills around Hong Kong are “rather bare of trees” and that his first impression is “exasperating.”1 However, he soon changes his mind when he sees his residence.

This place is surrounded by banyans and “large plantain trees” that greet the eyes with “their luscious green.”2 Tao’s love for nature is reflected throughout the whole article. He uses epithets to describe the things that enchant him, and his portrayal of the things that he finds disgusting is no less impressive. Tao mentions that water in the mountain springs is “pure and refreshing” and neighborhoods in some regions are “picturesque.”3

The lawns under “lofty” trees are compared to carpets, and the author remarks that he loves taking pleasant strolls there when the “refreshing breeze” is blowing.4 In his description of the weather, Tao employs antonyms to emphasize the ultimate impacts of some natural phenomena: “the cool comfort of airy rooms” is opposed to “the sultry summer weather.”5 Much attention in the narration is paid to water. While it is “pure and refreshing”6 in the mountains, it is also “calm” and “lucid”7 in the reservoir next to Tao’s friend’s house. The author emphasizes how significant freshwater is for Hong Kong people: the sentries watch the reservoir all the time to protect the water from being poisoned.8

Tao’s description of the Pokfulam district is probably the most poetic: views are “magnificent,” the horizon is “endless,” and boats in the harbor are “a delight to the eye as well as the mind.”9 Thus, the details pertaining to nature occupy an important place in Tao’s narration about his impressions of Hong Kong.

Another theme favored by the author is people living in the area. The first comment about the city’s inhabitants is not favorable: Tao remarks that “the people appear rather stupid” and speak an “unintelligible” dialect.10 However, the author’s first impression changes when he gets acquainted with some citizens and learns about their hard work and achievements. Tao mentions that while there is “very little flat land,” the persistence and “painstaking efforts” of the Europeans allowed them to build a city even in such unfavorable conditions.11 The author also draws attention to the occupations of the citizens. He remarks that they have always had “a monopoly on commerce,” which led to the city’s being an attractive place for “craftsmen from far and wide.”12 Tao mentions that business flourishes in Hong Kong and that the city has established trade relations with many places.13

However, in his further description, the author again returns to point out some negative features pertaining to citizens. He remarks that in an attempt to “pursue luxury,” people have changed greatly.14 Citizens became “wasteful and corrupt,” they spend much money on posh clothes and dinners, which is disapproved by Tao.15 The author describes the representatives of one profession in detail: he gives an account of “singsong girls” who live in brothels.16 While most of the girls have “large natural feet,” they are not devoid of some attractiveness, their faces being “roundish” and eyes being “seductive.”17 Tao mentions several other professions in his narration, such as fishermen, musicians, and magicians.

Another theme of Tao’s narration is education. The author speaks of Hong Kong colleges with respect and consideration. He mentions that students admitted to one of the three colleges set up by the British should have an “exceptional talent.”18 The respect and awe with which Tao speaks of educational institutions indicate his love for intelligence and knowledge acquisition. Being a promoter of Western studies, Tao cannot but remark that Hong Kong colleges teach students Western languages, which enables them to “render useful service to the government” after graduation.19 The author’s love for education is also reflected through his description of the museum that has “a large collection of books in European languages.”20

Tao confesses that the museum is a place “of abiding interest” for him and admires the possibility to read the books for free.21 He also praises the collection for detailed illustrations and a variety of subjects such as mechanics, anatomy, and geography. Another thing about the museum that is considered of high educational value is its display of specimens of different kinds of plants, trees, animals, birds, and fish.22 The portrayal of Tao’s attitude to education is rather passionate and detailed. It shows how dedicated the author is to his profession.

The fourth major theme in the article is the division of Hong Kong into districts and the streets in each of them. Tao uses poetic words to depict the variety of lifestyles in the city. The Upper and Central Rings are reported to be “noisy and dusty” and to have a large number of “imposing shops.”23 The Lower Ring is quite different from its “tranquil” atmosphere and “plenty of trees”24 The Central Ring is “magnificent” and not “chaotic.”25 Along with the description of Hong Kong streets, Tao also mentions a variety of house types such as mansions, villas, pagodas, and pavilions.26 Such detailing allows the authors to render the different conditions in which people live and helps readers to visualize these divergences.

Tao employs many details to portray his impressions of Hong Kong. He uses a variety of devices to make the language of the narration engaging and readable. The author focuses on several different topics but rather than dedicating separate parts of the story to each of them, he intermingles facts and descriptions to make the article more lively. The use of epithets and poetic words to illustrate the aspects of people’s lives allows Tao to capture the audience’s attention and makes the narration as realistic as possible. Through the use of artistic expression, the author succeeds in presenting a realistic picture of life in Hong Kong.


Tao, Wang. “My Sojourn in Hong Kong: Excerpts.” Renditions 29-30 (1988): 37-41.


  1. Wang Tao, “My Sojourn in Hong Kong: Excerpts,” Renditions 29-30 (1988): 37.
  2. Tao, “My Sojourn in Hong Kong,” 37.
  3. Ibid., 38.
  4. Ibid., 40.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., 38.
  7. Ibid., 40.
  8. Ibid., 41.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid., 37.
  11. Ibid., 38.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid., 39.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid., 38-39.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid., 39.
  19. Ibid., 38.
  20. Ibid., 39.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid., 38.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Ibid., 40.
  26. Ibid., 38-41.
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