Journey back in time to a Hakka walled village in Sheung Shui

September 30, 2016 17:30
The ancestral halls of five families (left) in Tsung Pak Long village; farming remains a source of livelihood in Long Valley. Photos: HKEJ

Not far away from Sheung Shui MTR station is the century-old Tsung Pak Long village (松柏塱村).

It was founded by families with different surnames, and the earliest record of the settlement dates back to 1819.

Their ancestral halls were built between 1930s and 1940s along a line in the middle of the village, which signified their unity.

The halls of the Chans (陳), Kwongs (鄺) and Laus (劉) are located within a complex while those of the Kans (簡) and Wongs (黃) are separated by an open lane on the right side of the compound.

The entire complex has been designated a Grade 3 historic building.

Inside Tsung Pak Long there is the Hakka Wai (客家圍) – literally a Hakka walled village – which was started by brothers Wong Kin-sheung and Wong Kin-man in the early 1900s and was completed in the 1920s. It is listed as a Grade 1 historic building.

The structure consists of two rows of residential houses, a study hall, a three-story watchtower as well as the wall and gate of the Hakka Wai.

The entire complex is excellently maintained, and serves as a great example of a Hakka walled village that speaks of heritage and ethnic values.

Standing at the entrance of the Hakka Wai and looking at the town center and public housing buildings, one finds it quite hard to believe that this village is part of Sheung Shui.

The town used to be a fertile plain of rice paddies and farms.

Traces of its historic past could still be seen in Long Valley (塱原), the last and largest existing wetland in Hong Kong, which is home to farmers as well as over 200 kinds of birds and other animals.

The valley landed in the news in 2002 when the government endorsed a plan to construct the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, a rail project crossing the valley.

Right now it is part of a new development plan for the North East New Territories, which would turn much of the farmland into an eco-park.

It’s simply disappointing to see Hong Kong villages and farms disappear amid the frenzied drive for progress.

Getting there:

To go to/return from Tsung Pak Long village: Take off at Sheung Shui MTR station and walk for 15 minutes via Choi Yuen Road.

Time: Two to three hours

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 2, 2015.

Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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