Sham Shui Po is an area of Hong Kong with history, distant and modern.
In 1955 a Han-dynasty tomb was uncovered, getting on for two thousand years after it was sealed up. The interior is brick lined, and though a sheet of glass prevents one from actually entering the tomb, decorative engraving can still be seen on some of the bricks. In the museum attached are pieces of pottery and bronze work. The bronze has mostly disintegrated; the pottery jugs and containers have a quality that, though simple, belies their age.
The tomb was discovered during levelling and construction work to build new public houses after a fire swept through the area of Shek Kip Mei on Christmas Day in 1953, killing scores and leaving homeless over fifty thousand. Most were refugees from the Mainland, fleeing Maoist excesses; their destroyed homes had been rudimentary and makeshift. By 1954, the first of Hong Kong’s public housing estates had been built, but as more tower blocks were thrown up, and more land developed, the tomb was unearthed.
But ten minutes’ walk from the tomb is Sham Shui Po Park, which stands now where an old British Army barracks once was. Where now stand trees and little plaques, the Japanese had their main prisoner of war camp in Hong Kong. There is nothing left of the barracks or the camp; that slice of history has been removed, but across the road is the barbed-wire surrounded shell of an old factory that could serve well as prison in any nightmare.