Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sai Kung: The Family Walk

Our efforts to explore Hong Kong finally got us over to Sai Kung, a village in the new Territories situated on an inlet from the sea. Phil had a meeting in Sai Kung earlier in the week and thus cased out directions. Even knowing the way, the ride over from our apartment on Hong Kong Island, under Victoria Harbor, through Kowloon and out into the New Territories took us close to 45 minutes. As we pulled into the village, someone in the backseat yelled “Is this the New Territories or what?”, meaning we had been in the car so long we must be far far away from home. All kids were shocked when we said yes, we took you all the way to the New Territories!

Sai Kung is a bit of a vacation village for locals. The village itself looks different from the typical Hong Kong scene. There are lots of little waterfront restaurants, little streets, little markets and little boats in the harbor. We are used to seeing huge tanker ships every day but the little sail boat is a rare thing. While some people come for the ambience, we came for the Sai Kung Country Park. We went right for the so-called family walk, bypassing all the straight up and down trails we could see crossing the surrounding hills. The family hike was great, taking us out over some mud flats, through a few bananas trees and then up a small hill. It was a little disconcerting to occasionally hear loud disco music from a partying campsite but at the same time it was also comforting to know where we were.

The family hike also led us to a great little folk museum, the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum. The museum encompassed a small village founded by the Wong family in the late 19th century. The village was built onto a hill with a large stone gate protecting an interior courtyard and a row of houses. We walked through the houses looking at the tools the Wongs used for their farming, fishing and brick making. The village also operating a lime kiln, where lime was extracted from sea shells. The kids loved it, crawling through the dog/cat doors built into the walls and trying to quess what tools were used for what. Phil and I were oddly comforted by the fact that the Wongs had all emigrated to England in the 1960’s and that Hong Kong, like Ukraine and Romania, keeps these folk museums going for us.

At the end of the trail, we found a good playground. “Good” in Tori’s eyes because it had the monkey bars, whereas most playgrounds here don’t have monkey bars (or swings for that matter). As the kids played, we met another family from Sai Kung who told us monkeys and large green pythons were commonly seen on the family trail and in the playground. Luckily for us, all our little monkeys saw were butterflies.


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