See Hong Kong Village Life

BODY IMAGE: Hotel Jen Hong Kong : See Hong Kong Village Life
BODY IMAGE: Hotel Jen Hong Kong : See Hong Kong Village Life

Discovering Hong Kong’s teeming metropolis is easy, but going off the beaten track is not difficult either. There’s a whole different side to Hong Kong just waiting outside of city limits, a calmer place with mountains, green scenery and ancient customs. On a recent trip, I was told to check out Tai Po by a local, and I’m so glad I took the advice.

This historic market town was largely inhabited by Hakka communities and is located in the North Eastern New territories and, although a new town is springing up, there remains a real feeling of village living. I travelled quickly by rail to Tai Po Market MTR Station and then rented a bicycle from one of the many places dotted around.

My first stop was the Tai Po Market on Fu Shin Street, a trade centre since the 1890s. Among the rows of bright vegetables for sale are stalls selling traditional Hakka snacks, fresh sugarcane juice and even the distinctive black netted Hakka hats – what a keepsake! I just had to pick up one of those.

After the market, I looked around the Man Mo Temple on the same street. A place to worship the Civil God of Literacy (Man) and the Martial God (Mo) deities, this was the New Territories’ first declared monument. In the mood for some more history, I roamed Kat Hing Wai, a walled village settled by the Tang clan over 400 years ago. I snapped pictures of the outside village wall, a small temple, and even some of the residents who still live there. For a moment, I felt like I’d stepped back in time.

Then, with a rumble in my stomach, I made my way to the pretty Tai Mei Tuk village, where I indulged, first, in a local speciality – a meal-in-a-bowl known as Poon Choi, at the respected Chung Shing Poon Choi Restaurant, and then in the scenery. The village is positioned by mountains and in front of Tolo Harbour and is as relaxed as Central is busy. In other words, a real sight for sore eyes! It felt so good to see Hong Kong’s more genteel side. I’ll be on the lookout for other village locations the next time I visit.

Want more? I didn’t have time to visit another village, but if I did, it would be the 300-year-old Fung Yuen, followed by a visit to the nearby butterfly reserve just in front of the village and housing over 200 of the exotic winged creatures. Ask my staff to help you tailor your itinerary.