26 October 2016
Mui Tsz Lam used to be covered by terraces filled with various crops. Now the terraces have been reclaimed by the wild. Photo: HKEJ
Mui Tsz Lam used to be covered by terraces filled with various crops. Now the terraces have been reclaimed by the wild. Photo: HKEJ

Ma On Shan’s ancient trail: the ties that bind

Imagine Hong Kong a century ago. Instead of being extensively connected by highways, scattered communities were linked by stone-paved trails. Villagers visiting one another had to travel on foot or by sea. There are numerous ancient trails that continue to serve holidaymakers traveling between Sha Tin and Sai Kung.

Opposite Tai Shui Hang MTR station is Tai Shui Hang Village (大水坑村), which used to be a remote village by the sea.

Today, detached three-storey houses are scattered across the area. But the past is ever present. The village’s ancestral hall of the Cheungs and stone stele still remind descendants of the close bond between the Shing and Cheung clans.

Back in the early days of the Qing Dynasty, Shing Bun-yuan and Cheung Shou-hing were good friends. One day Shing was waylaid and killed by robbers during a merchant trip. Shing’s wife and son sought help from Cheung to search for his body.

Not willing to see his best friend’s family suffer, Cheung took care of them and served the role of husband and father.

As time went by, Shing’s grandson moved to Mang Kung Uk, Hang Hau and Tseung Kwan O, where he finally settled. In order to express deep gratitude to Cheung, Shing’s descendants would visit the Cheungs by walking and doing traditional Qilin dances all the way to Tai Shui Hang Village, bypassing Mau Ping and Mui Tsz Lam, on the second day of the Lunar New Year.

The ancient stone-paved trail between Mui Tsz Lam (梅子林) and Mau Ping (茅坪) remains intact, but it is rarely traveled by indigenous farmers as most of them have left to work in the city. The terraces have been reclaimed by the wild.

Many of the houses in Mau Ping are not even accessible by car. Some of the villagers opted to settle near Sai Kung Town Center instead for better transportation.

Seeing the deserted houses along the ancient trail, I couldn’t help but wonder if the village could still be revived some day.

Useful information:

From: Take MTR to Tai Shui Hang station of Ma On Shan line.

To: Take Minibus 3 or 3A at Po Lo Che Road (菠蘿輋路) to Sai Kung Town Center.

Time: Around three hours.

Tips: Villages are part of a private area. Keep noise level low. Mui Tsz Lam Village is heavily guarded by dogs. Do not attempt to wander around in the residential area.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 15.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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Scattered communities were connected by an extensive network of stone-paved trails. Photo: HKEJ

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