Fancy a stroll down Vaginal Discharge Bay (Hai Si Wan)? Or a visit to Foreign Devil’s Sex Organ (Fan Kwai Chau)?… Sometime in the mid-19th century, when the Royal Navy rocked up, it is said that surveyors mapping the area would ask locals what they called the places they encountered. Legend has it that, somewhat predictably, the natives responded by suggesting wildly offensive Chinese names. Many of these stuck, though some place names are simply close puns or poor translations between English and Chinese.
Places such as Ham Lun Kok (Oral Sex Corner) and Ngau Shi Wan (Cow Shit Bay) inspired the the colonial government’s Geographical Place Names Board to set about wiping vulgarity from the map in the early 1990s. Names which bought bad luck (such as Ng Kwai Shan – Five Devil’s Hill) were also dropped. Fan Kwai Chau became Pyramid Rock whilst Ham Lun Kok became Yau Lung Kok, or Swimming Dragon Cape. Since Handover, place names have remained as generic and inoffensive as possible.
Ma Liu Shui was one of the earliest changes to be made. Chinese University objected to the KCR station sounding similar to Horse Piss (Ma Liu Shui is very close to Ma Niu Shui) and successfully lobbied for it to be renamed ‘University’ in 1967…
Other examples include Gau Tau (Penis Head Rock), Fong Pin Sho (Toilet Place), Ngau Shi Wu (Cow Dung Lake) and Kau Shi Wai (Dog Shit Farm) – some of which continue to exist today.
Sometimes it works the other way round too – Man Fuk Road in Ho Man Tin and Wan King Path in Sai King may raise eyebrows amongst Anglophone residents…
On a less lewd note, there is much folklore surrounding another curious street name on Hong Kong Island. Rednaxela Terrace, in Mid-Levels, makes perfect sense if read backwards. It was thought that someone along the line transcribed the English name from right-to-left, as per Chinese…
Know of any old or existing lewd or interesting place names? Feel free to share them in the comments.
Blog posts charting Hong Kong’s colourful past…
- 1000+ ‘Before and After’ Photos of Old & New Hong Kong.
- Cool Vintage Hong Kong Tourism Posters.
- Execution of Namoa Pirates in Kowloon, 1891.
- Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong: Photos from 1942, Beautifully Restored.
- HK’s Boom Years: The Best of Fan Ho.
- How Hong Kong Was Made: Iconic Buildings Under Construction.
- Mainland Refugees Fleeing Famine Rejected by HK.
- Margaret Thatcher in Hong Kong.
- More Vintage Photos of Old Hong Kong.
- Newly Unearthed Photos of 1950s Hong Kong.
- Pictures of Hong Kong in 1972.
- Rare Shots from Inside the Old Kowloon Walled City.
- Shing Mun Redoubt, HK’s Secret WWII Tunnels.
- Street Scenes in Dreamy Colour 1954-2004.
- The ‘Great Chinese Takeaway’ – the 1997 Handover.
- The 1958 Hong Kong Cha Cha Championship Winner (Bruce Lee).
- The 1967 Hong Kong Riots.
- The Bombing of Hong Kong by the U.S. 14th Air Force.
- The Day a Cargo Ship Washed up on Cheung Chau Beach.
- The Hakka Walled Village of Tsang Tai Uk, Sha Tin.
- The Iconic ‘Two Girls’ Kwong Sang Hong Cosmetics Brand
- The Luxury British Liner at the Bottom of Victoria Harbour.
- Unseen Royal Geographic Photos.
- When the MTR Was New.
Pictorial histories of local landmarks and events…
- A Brief Visual History: HK Police Vehicles & Uniforms
- A Brief Visual History: HK’s Old Airport, Kai Tak
- A Brief Visual History: Kowloon Walled City
- A Brief Visual History: The Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline.
- A Brief Visual History: The Peak Tram
- A Brief Visual History: Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower
- A Brief Visual History: Yau Ma Tei Theatre