Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail (元荃古道), which connects Shap Pat Heung of Yuen Long and Tsuen Wan market, used to be the only access for rural villagers to trade their farm produce for daily necessities.
Walking along the remote and quiet trail, one could imagine the bygone days when hardy donkeys carried fresh fruits and vegetables for their owners to sell in the market.
Along the trail are a few notable names of ancient towns that have managed to survive till the present day – Ha Fa Shan (下花山), Sheung Fa Shan (上花山), Sheung Tong (上塘), Tin Fu Tsai (田夫仔) and Tsing Fai Tong (清快塘).
Every villager in Ha Fa Shan is still growing vegetables and flowers. The place is simply delightful as it is peaceful.
Going up to Shek Lung Kung (石龍拱) is probably the toughest part of the trail. But upon reaching the summit, hikers are rewarded with a panoramic view of Tsing Ma Bridge and Ting Kau Bridge.
Coming down the trail, one reaches a section between Lin Fa Shan and Sheung Tong, which I was told used to be a tungsten mining site.
The place is now part of some long-forgotten history as no one exactly knows where the mine cave entrance is located.
Sheung Tong village has long been abandoned. The only dwellers there today are feral cattle.
Tin Fu Tsai village, founded 400 years ago by the Choi clan, was a large and influential village in the Pat Heung area where several hundred villagers resided at its peak.
With the construction of Tai Lam Chung reservoir from 1956, residents from several villages in the catchment area were relocated to Tsuen Wan and Sham Tseng.
Tin Fu Tsai was spared, which is why many indigenous villagers still live there today.
Tsing Fai Tong is a Hakkanese village that is about 200 years old.
But many of its residents moved to Sham Tseng where they built a new village in 1969.
Around a decade ago, some residents returned, and started building a small farm and opening a store to serve holiday hikers who pass by the area.
At the pavilion, I felt so relaxed as I gazed at a small lotus pond. The scene makes me think of the paradise described by ancient Chinese poets.
Since it takes about six hours to walk the trail up to Yuen Long, I took a detour to Sham Tseng.
But as soon as Sham Tseng was in sight, I began to miss the countryside.
To go to Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital: Take KMB bus No. 39M at Tsuen Wan MTR station.
To return from Sham Tseng: Take KMB bus No. 53 to Tsuen Wan MTR station.
Time: About four hours
Reference: Government website with map
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 29, 2015.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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