It's worth the trek almost to the mainland China border to visit this 19th-century home of merchant and philanthropist Man Chung-luen. The surefire path to becoming a big shot in Imperial China was passing civil service examinations, but few people from Hong Kong—which was hicksville at the time—made the grade. Man Chung-luen proved the exception in 1875. Congratulatory tablets from the emperor hang in the house's entrance hall. The room layout, beautifully decorated
doors, and roof ridges are all characteristic of Qing-dynasty architecture. Stained glass and rococo moldings reflect European influences, a result of the British victory over China in the Opium War of 1841. Women could watch guests unobserved from an upper gallery, which also has an enclosed courtyard for stargazing, charmingly called a "moon playing chamber." To reach the house, cross over the road outside Sheung Shui station (Exit A1) and take Bus 76K toward Yuen Long; alight at San Tin, 5½ km (3½ miles) away. The five-minute walk to the mansion is signposted from there. Alternatively, get a taxi from the station—one way costs HK$40.