Hong Kong Encapsulated II: Something Old, Something New

We called it our Adventure Day. The Ngong Ping cable cars were off on annual maintenance. So we didn’t get to walk 200 steps to see Buddha in the sunlight, find enlightenment in Po Lin, or experience immeasurable splendour and infinity on the Wisdom Path. Instead, we travelled up north to Lung Yeuk Tau outside Fanling in the New Territories where we were transported back to 16th century Hong Kong, where bandits and marauders were once aplenty.

Known as the Mountain of the Leaping Dragon, we ploughed up the hilly terrain in our sneakers (thankfully!) and stumbled upon several walled villages called wai 圍 or tsuen 村.


Due to the lack of signages, we went deep into the trail and found Tung Kok Wai. Silence hung in the air. We stepped into the wai, and then came a chilling wail that made our hair stand up on its ends. And that was it; we never ventured more than ten steps into Tung Kok Wai. On the way back, we were startled by the barking of dogs. Four dogs scrambled from under a fence and frolicked around us. Dogs are not my favourite things.

Much of the ancient villages built by the Tangs (one of the Five Great Clans in NT) have been demolished to make way for modern homes. Some newer buildings have been built in connection with the old buildings. Reminded me of the talk ‘Cultural Landscapes’ by Prof Ken Taylor that I attended.

It was like going to China without going to China. I particularly liked the Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall; Tin Hau Temple was too spooky for me.

We thought that going to a village would inadvertently mean village food. So we ignored Ah Ma’s advice (you must have your meal before going out because you’ll never know when your next meal is). The village was completely residential. There were no shops, not till back at Fanling.

There was 1881 Heritage too – rich colonial buildings with a modern architectural backdrop by close to Victoria Harbour on Canton Road spangled by upmarket stores and restaurants.

We took a cheap 2.5 HKD Star Ferry ride across to Central Pier just as the sky exploded into a canvas of colours and dissolve into a soothing blue.

Pictures speak for the trip. I cannot contain myself from harping about Nan Lian Garden at Diamond Hill – an escape from bustling Hong Kong and the most beautiful one I’ve seen. The garden spans 3.5 hectares, covering areas under highways and bridging over busy roads. It contains a magnificent garden, monastery, museum, restaurant, tea house and function house. Talk about efficient space utilisation! All around the garden, lilting traditional music is played, bizarre jaspilite rocks and well-trimmed trees cover most of the surroundings. I was impressed. Perfectly clean and tranquil – an oasis for sure.

If HK seems like a congested place, you’d be surprised at the little pockets of tranquility. I came expecting to see HK as in TVB series and boy, was I wrong.

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