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Sassy Mama Family Field Trips: Hong Kong Maritime Museum

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This week for our family field trip, we found ourselves at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, just re-opened after moving from Stanley to Central. If you missed last week, we were enjoying the delights of Island East Markets, and you can read about our experience here.

This week the intrepid field-trippers were: one thirty-something mum (in need of a toddler-friendly activity one afternoon) and Gracie, 2 ½ years, the toddler in question.

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To be honest with you, I wasn’t filled with joy at the prospect of visiting the Hong Kong Maritime Museum – as museums aren’t really my thing and neither are boats, (Fireboat Alexander Grantham aside!). But Gracie and I were at a loose end one afternoon in Central and I had seen the recent re-launch publicity for the Maritime Museum so thought why not? And you’ll see why not below.

Celebrating over 2000 years of rich nautical history, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum is a lovely tranquil space, a haven for weary males fed up of traipsing after their better halves in a spending frenzy at the IFC mall, but alas not a great place for a full-throttle, energised toddler. As we entered the dimmed exhibition space, I felt a sea of calm (no pun intended), until Gracie piped up “Oooh it’s dark!” and then did her quickest 100 metre dash singing jingle bells at the top of her voice (when will she get that Christmas is over??) spoiling the tranquillity in one fell swoop much to the chagrin of the serious museum goers.

Hits: It’s educational. Learn about an important aspect of Hong Kong’s history; its seafaring past and quite literally hark back to yesteryear and do what kids and parents did before computer games, iPads, etc. It’s easy to get to. Centrally located at Pier 8 with the IFC and Central on your doorstep, there are plenty of dining options to choose from. It’s a perfect activity for the boys to do while the girls shop (great for bored male companions). It’s cheap. Admission is only $30 for adults, toddlers are free and older kids are charged $15. It’s a quiet, peaceful, calming activity – great for a bit of down time. Alone.

Misses: Not ideal for toddlers, a bit advanced for their years and concentration span! (I know, I know, I hold up my hands to this one – what did I expect?) Exhibits are often made up of precious model boats, which, although wonderfully intricate and worthy of much admiration, are not ideal for wandering hands that like to touch and break! This activity would be suited better to older kids that are able read about the history (or have the attention span to listen to mummy or daddy reading about the boats).

It’s small. Although the literature boasts 15 galleries, I thought it was a bit on the small side, (although I could have missed a gallery or two given the lightening speed that Gracie was thundering through the place,) but on the plus side, being small makes it a nice quick activity if you’re pressed for time.

There’s a lack of interactive displays, but then I hear myself saying “does a museum really have to have interactive stuff these days? Can’t we just read and look without having to do or press buttons?” There are a few TV screens with some interactive activities that would again work better for older kids, but it is mainly about admiring the model boats.

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1. Intricate model boats, a delight for wandering little hands, and not such a delight for Mummy’s nerves (how much do these things cost to replace??) 2. A history of piracy: Gracie pointed to ‘Daddy’ – the one in the forefront with the gun. Just for the record, Gracie’s daddy is not from Somalia, nor is he a gun-toting pirate (unless it’s 7’s weekend).

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The wall of paintings that Gracie refused point blank to look at instead preferring to hide ‘Bunny’ in one of the earthenware pots used to transport precious cargoes of spices.

Verdict: I should have borrowed an 8-year-old boy with a keen interest in boats for this particular family fieldtrip.  If you happen to have one at home, the Maritime Museum is for you!

Museum opening hours: Monday to Friday: 9.30am to 6.00 pm.
Weekend and public holidays: 10.00am to 7.00 pm.

Other stuff: Cost: Admission for adults costs $30, children and senior citizens costs $15
Age: suitable for children of all ages (that like model boats.)

Maritime Museum
Pier 8, Central Ferry Pier, Central, Hong Kong.
Tel: 2813 0912

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