Wednesday, August 17, 2005
We have sometimes heard about these old walled villages around the New Territories and decided to go check one out. Even though the walls surrounding some of the villages are over 500 years old the villages within have vanished and been replaced by pastel colored houses with modern day appliances.
The village we visited was built by the Tang clan which arrived in Hong Kong in 1069. Subsequent genertions continued building the walled villages which still exist today. The original function of the walls were built to protect against pirates, bandits and neighbors. The village we visited had only one entrance guarded by a chain-iron gate and each corner had watchtowers.
We have a guide book that directs us to most of the places we have explored around HK. It's very good about telling us which bus to take but not where to get off. After riding on the bus for an hour we realized we had no idea where our stop is. We decided to just ride the whole route and see what we pass to see if we could figure it out by process of elimination. It was actually a great way to see parts of HK we had yet to see.
On our return route we (ok, Troy) figured out the right stop. As we approached the village after walking a few blocks, we could see two old Chinese (what else would they be) women sitting in the doorway. As we neared the entrance, one motioned for us to insert a coin into a slot built into the wall. I had read this would happen and is just a small donation for the preservation of the village.
After we paid our $2HKD, the two ladies immediately stood side by side, pasted the biggest smiles they could muster on their faces and motioned at Troy and his camera for him to take their picture. And then comes the hand extended out for money! I told Troy this was another thing I had read would happen and that they want $10HKD. We were fine with $10HKD for the two of them but not each. They were not too happy when they realized Troy shortchanged them! After we paid them and entered the village another old lady came running up to us with a wide brimmed bamboo hat on her head. She started pointing at her hat and Troys camera indicating that he should take her picture with her hat. We would have but we only had $100HKD bills and were not about to pay her that much.
The inside of the village was nothing special. The walkways between the homes were narrow and lined with kids bicycles, shoes and small plants. The main walkway was supposed to be lined with souvenir stands but the only stand we saw had dried fish on it. Not quite what I had in mind for a sourvenir! It took us about 10 minutes to make our way through the walkways before we left.
We were not ready to go home yet, so we walked toward another village called Shui Tau Tsuen. This village was not enclosed by a wall but instead backed up to some small green hills that was also the home to many horseshoe shaped graves. This was a very quiet area and had awesome views of some nearby mountains. I kept hoping we would come across grazing water buffalo but the only thing we saw was dog poop! (But the area was still very pretty!)
As we're walking along a dirt path toward the hills, Troy comments to me that he wouldn't be too happy if I was out wandering in this area by myself. (I think Troy was referring to my excursions where I'm not too sure how I'm getting home.) He further states that he wouldn't be happy not knowing where I was. I told him "That's ok, I wouldn't know where I would be either, so we would be even!!!" Somehow I don't think that was the answer he was looking for!