In Yuen Long there is the village of Shui Tau Tsuen, where there are old 19th century buildings. This is where my companions and I set out to visit. Our taxi driver was quite apprehensive when we first told him our intended destination.
“Are you visiting someone?”
“Oh. Are you going to that country club there?”
There’s a country club there? No, we’re not. We’re visiting historic monuments!
His skepticism was proved to be unfounded when we excitedly and triumphantly pointed at the aged traditional structure in front of us. He shrugged, and let us off, not before he made sure we hopeless tourists/cityfolk knew which bus to catch back to the nearest MTR station (which was not, as he pointed out, the one where we had gotten into his taxi).
Behold, the Yi Tai Study Hall built by the Tang Clan, which settled in the lands of Kam Tin perhaps as far back as the 11th century. The details of its origins are a bit muddy–it was built around 1840–but all agree that it was built as a place of quiet, peaceful scholarly contemplation. It was officially declared a Hong Kong monument in 1992 and was restored and opened to the public in 1994.
The entrance to the study hall.
The fact that this study hall is a declared monument and almost 200 years old doesn’t stop its next-door neighbor from cozying up to it.
An overgrown abandoned plot nearby.
Kids were playing basketball on a court right up against the historic buildings.
The old and new coexist comfortably here…
Like this sadly dilapidated and crumbling structure, side by side with a shiny new home.
The village is set in a luxuriously verdant plain at the foot of hills that seem more fitting of Scotland than Hong Kong.
The odd architecture and neglected exterior of this small apartment block seemed more incongruous than the historic buildings. While the latter remain dignified and proudly preserved, these appeared to simply be left behind by the passing of time.
The local residents are of diverse nationalities.
An offshoot of the Kam Tin river runs alongside the village.
Probably under-visited, this tranquil town deserves a trip especially since there are some other places of interest nearby, like the Kam Tin Walled Village (吉慶圍). That’s for the next blog post…
To get there, take the Purple Tuen Mun MTR line to Kam Sheung Rd Station, then walk for 25 mins or take a 5-minute taxi ride.