17 January 2019
Hakka houses in Cheung Uk village are officially listed as Grade II historic buildings. Photo: HKEJ
Hakka houses in Cheung Uk village are officially listed as Grade II historic buildings. Photo: HKEJ

A pair of indigenous Hakka villages in Tai Po

Sha Lo Tung (沙螺洞), in Tai Po district at 170 meters above sea level, is a valley inside Pat Sin Leng Country Park.

Cloudy Hill (a.k.a. Kowloon Hang Shan), Ping Fung Shan, Wong Leng and Pat Sin Leng jointly form a natural barrier for this blessed land, shutting off the fierce winds from the north.

At the entrance of Sha Lo Tung there stands a signpost that reads “Sha Lo Tung village”, a collective name for the Hakka villages of Cheung Uk and Lei Uk.

The villages have 300 years of history.

The Cheungs and Leis were farmers growing rice and vegetables and rearing chickens, ducks and pigs.

They sold their produce in Tai Wo Market (now known as Tai Po Market).

The small single-story houses that are officially listed as Grade II historic buildings in the ancient village look remarkably alike.

Those in Cheung Uk were built in irregular linear rows of about six houses facing northeast in accordance with the topography and fung shui.

The Hakka houses in Lei Uk and Lo Wai are to the west. They are mostly deserted and have deteriorated.

More houses in Cheung Uk have managed to survive, and one ancestral hall remains.

There is also a small store at Cheung Uk serving holidaymakers and hikers.

On Feb. 14, the storeis organizing celebratory events for visitors, including lion dances, the setting of firecrackers and village rituals such as handing out roast pork, so that everyone can have a taste of Lunar New Year traditions in rural villages.

Sha Lo Tung is ecologically important. Its freshwater wetland houses a wide variety of species, especially the dragonfly.

Over 70 out of 107 recorded species of the insect in Hong Kong, some native to the city, can be found in Sha Lo Tung. 

Watching the dragonflies dipping their tails into the water or dancing freely in the air is a real pleasure.

I usually start walking from Fanling’s Hok Tau Reservoir to Fung Yuen. As the average walking pace is 4 km/h, it takes somewhat less than 2 hours to finish the 5 km walk.

Take minibus 52B from Fanling MTR station to Hok Tau Reservoir. Then take the Hok Tau Reservoir family walk to Sha Lo Tung valley, visiting the village clusters and then Fung Yuen.

Getting there:

To go to Hok Tau Reservoir: Take green minibus 52B at Fanling MTR station.

To return from Fung Yuen: Take green minibus 20P to Tai Po Market MTR station.

Time: About two hours

Reference: Government website on Hok Tau Campsite (with map)

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 12.

Translation and additional reporting by Darlie Yiu 

[Chinese version中文版]

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Miscanthus, or silvergrass, dances in the wind at the entrance of Lei Uk village. Photo: HKEJ

HKEJ contributor

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