28 October 2016
The path leading to the Castle Peak's hilltop. Photo: Wikipedia/Minghong
The path leading to the Castle Peak's hilltop. Photo: Wikipedia/Minghong

Tracing Clementi’s footsteps to Castle Peak

In the early 20th century, the British government, in order to consolidate its colonial governance, appointed Sir Cecil Clementi the 17th governor of Hong Kong.

Clementi, who was fluent in Cantonese and had a keen interest in Chinese language and culture, held the office from 1925 to 1930.

During his term, Clementi often visited the New Territories to offer reassurance to the rural inhabitants, given the rising instability of the political situation in mainland China.

He paid two visits to Tsing Shan Monastery (青山禪院) on Castle Peak in Tuen Mun, in 1927 and 1928.

Leading to the monastery is the Memorial Archway (牌樓). Built in 1929, it was engraved with four gilded characters, heung hoi ming shan (香海名山), meaning Fragrant Sea and Prestigious Mountain, written by Clementi.

He must have heard of the legend of the Buddhist monk Pui To.

Living during the Liu Song Dynasty in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-479 CE), the eminent monk was believed to have traveled over water in a cup to Tuen Mun’s Castle Peak, where he established a monastery. The spiritual site is now known as Tsing Shan Monastery.

Castle Peak, rising 583 meters in the western New Territories, is one of few peaks in the city that are not part of a country park.

Most of the hill is used as a firing range by military and police forces in the city.

As such, you need not be surprised when you encounter a “No Trespassing” signpost in the area, and indeed you have to watch out and listen to the radio for any public warnings about firing drills.

Walking up the steep path, I find the stone staircases seemingly endless, yet what sustains me is the sight of the transmitting stations at the hilltop growing bigger and clearer as I ascend.

Arriving at the station, one could enjoy a breathtaking view of the Castle Peak Basin and Tuen Mun new town.

Getting there:

To go to/return from Tsing Wun (青雲): Take KMB bus route 57M, 66X or 258D and get off at Tsing Wun railway station.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 16, 2015.

Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Built in 1929, the Memorial Archway (left) was engraved with four gilded characters written by then governor Clementi. Clementi paid two visits to Tsing Shan Monastery on Castle Peak, Tuen Mun. Photo: Wikipedia/Chong Fat

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