HISTORY – Hong Kong’s Most Offensive Place Names

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…

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via Susan Blumberg-Kason

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.

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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…

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via Alan Lau on Flickr

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…

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via Robert Trio on Flickr

Know of any old or existing lewd or interesting place names? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Sources: Gwulo, SCMP 22/11/1992, CNN.

Blog posts charting Hong Kong’s colourful past…

Pictorial histories of local landmarks and events…

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