In this mission Gweilo gives us a nice island map with plenty of events and requests during the mission to sustain interest. Getting enough people early in the game, while maintaining perfect FS, is quite a challenge.
I built my main housing block on the west side of the island, which is nearer the entrance, and did my favourite trick of putting religion (temple and shrine) outside the block to give more room for housing. The Buddhist pagoda is inside the block for aesthetics. If I'd wanted to really maximise housing I'd have put it south of the river.
Early in the game I had 6 extra houses (with water) south of the river near the administrative city, to help kick start production. I deleted them when the main block had evolved enough that they were no longer needed.
This is my 2nd design for the city. My first design had a grand market at the NE end of the housing block, fed by a mill at the NW end of the farmland. Even with 3 food shops in market I could not keep my people fed reliably. The final design squeezes in a common market and mill to the W of the block, which also gave me more room for the farms.
I made a couple of mistakes with the placement of the music school. First I put it next to the warehouse east of the pagoda. This was too far from the market for reliable service. Then I moved it to its final location, demolishing a kiln in order to do so. I did not need to do that. I could have put it south of the cliff, next to the trading post with Kashgar.
Regular requests for troops, weapons and other goods maintain interest throughout the mission. I bribed the one invasion, with Guan Yin's help, and later used Sun Wu Kong to bless weapons production which gave me plenty of weapons for gifts (to get allies) as well as for export.