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Sunday, May 30, 2010

North Eastern Islands, Plover Country Park, and Yan Chau Tong Marine Park

We hiked in the NE part of the New Territories and then on two islands off the NE coast.

Wu Kau Tang village--there was only a hiking path to the village, but it is really a short distance from public transportation. Most of the upgrading of the buildings was from the 60s and 70s when children went to England for financial opportunities and sent back money.

Notice the date at the top of the building.

The layout of houses in the New Territory village is quite standard. As you come in the front door, a cook stove is on the right and the partition for the toilet is on the left. Straight ahead the steps go to the second floor.
While some of the houses look neglected, here is a new house--the limit is three stories--it must be a planning rule or something.

We found this photo in a house--it was dated 1967 and shows two young men in front of their restaurant in England. No doubt they sent it home to their family (along with some money).

Village of Lai Chi Wo. Only two people remain in the village yet it has a new wall around it. Investors are trying to make it an important part of the marine park.

Tourism advertisements on the side of the wall of the village.

The fung shui woods in the back of the village. The vine-type vegetation is all of one plant which extends throughout the wood.

The village of Sam A, on the edge of the marine park.

These used to be rice fields.

The mangrove swamps are returning in an area that was previously used for fish farming.

Yan Chau Tong Marine Park has many different rock formations.

Cemetery along the hillside.

Crooked Island, or Kat O

The supposed major industry for Kat O has been fishing, but smuggling has really been the industry. Kat O is just inside the border of Hong Kong. You can see the shore facilities across the border in China. Those these are recent, during the Korean War, for example, when there was no trade with China, kerosene, etc. came to Hong Kong through the back door, so to speak.

One house seems to be falling in, white the one below, located next to it, is being painted.

China looms large nearby.

Square at entrance to the village in front of the Tin Hau temple.
The cows that wander freely within the country park are here as a remnant of the agricultural past. They are owned by no-one, left when agriculture left the area.

Again the juxtaposition of an abandoned building next to one being well taken care of and renovated.

The government has invested in many such playgrounds. I have to say that I have rarely seen children on them. Kat O has very few children who live there.

We ended the day at Grass Island--Tap Mun.

Banners for the Cantonese opera celebration.

I went with the Harvard hiking club (I've yet to meet a Harvard grad among them) as one of my last long outings. Everyone had said I needed to get to the outer islands, so this was my chance to do it. We started out hiking through the Plover Cove Country Park toward the shore and the Yan Chau Tong Marine Park.

We first passed through a typical New Territories village. Wu Kau Tang village was partially abandoned in the 70s or 80s. In the 60s and 70s young people left to go to Britain to start restaurants, etc. to make money. They send money home which led to the improvement of many of the buildings, but once the older generation died, many have deteriorated. Now some people are coming back when they retire--they still own their houses. In the book Factory Girls, you see this same type of practice today. The young people working in the factories send a great deal of their income back to their parents in the village to improve their homes. One of the sociological changes related to this practice today is the huge change in who has power. The young women who bring in the money all of a sudden have more power in the family than before--this can be used to just be independent from the demands of family or to engage in telling their siblings to study hard because they are paying the school bills!

We also walked through the village of Lai Chi Wo, the largest traditional village still standing in Hong Kong. Fung shui wood--only one or two days a year it can be entered and wood gathered.

The hamlet of Sam A is on the shores of the marine park. A long line of hikers came through while we were sitting there even though it seemed isolated. Mangrove swamps are growing, though formerly the land around Sam A was in rice fields or fish production.

Crooked Island--Kat O--has six villages. Officially fishing has been the main industry but you can see China in the distance. This was a route for smuggling. The marine police presence was pretty strong...

We cruised through the marine park to Grass Island--Tap Mun. The local people were having a Cantonese Opera celebration--a ten year event, but it was also held last year. Here was a Tin Hau Temple--now I know what this means. On the ocean side of the island was a beautiful area that looked much more like New Zealand.

I have seen the diversity of Hong Kong--from urban, concrete high rise buildings with levels of density greater than any place else on earth to the sound of waves on the ocean side of the outer islands.