30 Oct 2012

Arriving in Hong Kong - The Macau Ferry pier

In The man with the golden gun, Bond travels back to the British territory of Hong Kong after a quick visit in Portuguese Macau. So basically Bond is traveling within Europe. He arrives at the 'Hong Kong - Macau ferry pier' in the Sheung Wan district on Hong Kong Island.

The only building that is still recognizable and that makes it possible to identify the place is ''The Western Market'' along Connaught Road Central. This building is one of the oldest surviving structures in Sheung Wan and the oldest market building in the city. Originally consisting of two blocks, the South Block, built in 1858, was demolished in 1980 and replaced by the Sheung Wan Complex. But the North Block is of more interest for us, since this is the building seen in the film. It was built in 1906 in an Edwardian style that was popular in England in the early 1900's.
It was a food market until 1988 and it was declared a national monument in 1990. Today the Western Market houses various souvenir shops, cafés, fabric merchants and a big restaurant on the top floor. The building is located at 323 Des Voeux Road Central, facing Connaught Road and occupies a whole city block.
This is what has happened to Hong Kong during the past 30+ years
It is an understatement to say that Hong Kong has changed since 1974... Apart from not being a British colony anymore, the entire city has been filled with skyscrapers and bigger roads. The Connaught Road Central is today an elevated highway that runs through the Sheung Wan district. But you can still find some gems from the past, for instance The Peninsula Hotel, that still keeps the British end up!

The red taxi Bond is getting into is a Datsun 200C. Today they have been replaced by the Toyota Crown Comfort taxis but they are still red in central Hong Kong and Kowloon. The central bus terminal that is seen behind Mary Goodnight (just opposite the terminal entrance in the film), has been moved to the left of the ferry terminal just by the water. The man powered rickshaws, seen in the background (and outside the bottoms up) exists nowadays only as a tourist attraction and are extremely expensive.

The sight of a British flagged hydrofoil is gone forever. 
Bond follows Miss Anders from Macau on the Jet Hydrofoil. The boat carries of course the red ensign of the British Empire and passes one of the outlying islands between Macau and Hong Kong. Which island, is yet to be confirmed. The route Hong Kong - Macau is still served several times a day by the boat companies TurboJET and First Ferry. I strongly recommend the 'super class' tickets when traveling to or from Macau. For an extra HK$100 you get a light meal, free beverages, coffe/tea and you get to sit on the upper deck of the hydrofoil.

When traveling from Macau you can either arrive at the the Macau ferry pier in central on Hong Kong Island or to the terminal in Kowloon. The terminal on Hong Kong Island is still located in the same place as it was in the film but the exterior has changed for obvious reasons. Today the ferry terminal is housed in a big shopping mall and the entrance is not as modest as it was in 1974. If you are in a hurry and have an extra 2000 HK$ to spare you can use the helicopter service available between Hong Kong and Macau. The flight takes about 15 minutes.

The company name ''Hong Kong Macau Hydrofoil Co. Ltd.'' seen on the sign above the entrance is a subsidiary of 'Shun Tak - China travel shipping investments Ltd.' and operates under the name TurboJET so the same ferry company used by Bond is still around today, though under a different name. The name Shun Tak can now be seen on the ferry terminal entrance, a nod to the old sign seen in the film.

Again, Director Guy Hamilton fails to show the beautiful parts of Hong Kong and the only establishing shot we get is the sign of the ferry company. Even the few minutes in Die Another Day is more appealing than the entire section of The man with the golden gun.

                    "Ahead you can now see Kowloon. And on your right, Hong Kong Island."
                                                 -Hydrofoil steward-

The tallest building in Hong Kong, ICC, is located on the Kowloon side and the skyscrapers to the right are located on Hong Kong Island. 

Welcome to Hong Kong Mr Nymberg...


  1. - Are you hurt?

    - Only my pride, Eklund.

  2. Love the blog thanks for the information about the London locations,just came back from there, it was most helpful, I wouldn't have found the Sommerset House or OHMSS College of Arms and the exact location of the Lazenby Lampost without your invaluable help.
    Can't wait for the Skyfall entry!
    Visited Russia too, St Petersburg was beautiful, couldn't find the difference between the Leavesden shots and the real city!

  3. David Marlborough21 March 2014 at 16:52

    Just to play devil’s advocate, Robert, I think you are a little hard on Guy Hamilton. I find this constant tendency to put a title declaring the location every time a movie charges from one place to the next a little excessive, to be honest. (For example, when a particular location in a movie like say, San Francisco Bay, downtown Manhattan or St. Mark’s Square in Venice appear do we really need to have this specifically named? It really takes the audience for cretins!) When watching, for example, The Man with the Golden Gun, I was able to identify the change of locations by the either the preceding dialogue or some indication identifiable at the location itself.

    1. I agree, it is definitely not necessary to put a title on every place! For instance the Rio arrival, the Thunderball Bahamas arrival, Venice, the establishing shots over Monaco are all examples where it would be totally excessive. (Note also; none of these films were made by Hamilton.) But what I do not like about Hamilton is that he constantly fails in making the locations look glamorous or even interesting. For instance, Hong Kong has beautiful scenery with the Peak, the skyline (even in 1974) and the southern part of Hong Kong Island. It is very special and some nice views would not have hurt.
      I don't know if you have seen Noble House, but just look at the intro and you'll see what I mean.
      I am getting more eager to go there after seeing those two minutes than the entire part of Golden Gun. And I think that is a recurring fact in Hamilton's last three films. I mean, how exciting does New York feel in LALD?
      But I am definitely with you against the overuse of a title before a place.

  4. David Marlborough31 March 2014 at 16:17

    Fair enough. I can see the point you are making about Hamilton and I can appreciate it. I haven’t visited Hong Kong (I would love to have done so when it was still under British rule, just for the atmosphere) but yes, probably he could have made more of it. But don’t you think Hamilton managed to convey a good flavour of the Louisiana bayous and the Carribean in LALD and the far west of the USA in DAF and made them look interesting? Even Thailand in this film. Granted, Peter Hunt did excellent work with the Swiss locations in OHMSS and Terence Young with the Bahamas in Thunderball but were all the directors not, at least to some extent, hidebound by the demands of the script? And, how much better did Glen do with say San Francisco in AVTAK and Gilbert was prevented in showcasing any location in a real way in Moonraker because the script demanded Bond hop from one place to another so much. I mean, we didn’t get a real sense of Rio de Janero (apart from what we see in the cable car fight) with a hotel suite and a back alley featuring strongly!

    This is not to argue with you, I hope you appreciate but just to make the point that it’s not limited exclusively to Hamilton even if he probably could have improved on his performance at times.

    I did see episodes of Noble House at the time it was released on TV but I can’t recall a lot about it to be honest. I will check out your link though.

  5. Great site and interesting info.
    Bond's connection (especially the filming locations) to Bangkok is very interesting to me.
    I am a Norwegian and a Bond-fan and used to live in Thailand/Bangkok 2003-06.
    I have been to many of the filming locations in this movie incl. Hong Kong, but find the Muang Boran as well as the scenes from the Floating Market facinating - it's nearby from where my wife comes from.
    Highlight was also when, in 2006, I got to meet (not a handshake, but close) Mr. "Scaramanga", Christopher Lee at special Bond event in Bangkok. What a Legend.
    This movie was screened the same evening and with fresh words from Mr. Lee about the filming etc., it was extra special to watch the movie.

    Thanks again for a great site!!

    Best regards

  6. I do agree that much more in a way could have been made of hongkong, but then i also wonder exactly which aspects. if you go deeper in to real hong kong, yuo leave james bond suitable looks and feels very very quickly. it is dirty, with bad wiring everywhere, even today.
    the peninsula was, at that time, perhaps the best the place hotel ion the world, certainly one of the best. (today it is an overpriced shodow of itself with dirty glasses in the rooms and sad lack of services).
    i will say this, though, the few scenes in the bond movies have made me a life long hong kong lover, and i think it shows a hongkong that is, to me, very very attractive.
    sadly, it has nothing to do with actual hongkong.

    i don't mean the fact that "buttoms up" turned into a freakin irish pub (is there anythign less bond? ).
    i mean things like lighting and athmosphere.

    to me at leasat these few seconds of seeing HK were enough to instill a fascination that lasts until today and has survived countless trips there, which is saying allot.

    just my two cents worth.