Nov 01, 2017

An Unknown Hong Kong And the Hakka People of Double Haven

The Other Side of the Big City

There’s more to Hong Kong than its shopping malls and high rises, says Wouter Van Marle, a Dutch national living in Hong Kong since 2002. “Nearly half of Hong Kong’s land is designated countrypark, and much more is undeveloped. It offers many opportunities for a great day out, a day away from the noise, the traffic and the crowds.”

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Hong Kong’s country parks provide relatively untouched nature, varying from lush forests to rough mountains, interspersed with streams and wetlands. Many waterfalls dot the landscape. The Main Falls of Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls, the tallest waterfall of the city, has a maximum drop of over 30 metres.

It’s Van Marle’s ambition to help reveal the hidden face of Hong Kong. One method in which he does so is via private and public tours of unknown wonders of our island city. His tours cover the countryside, the secret villages, and the peoples of the land.

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The Villages of the City

Various ancient villages are also located within the city, some abandoned and others still home to close-knit communities that still maintain their traditional fishing and farming lifestyles. A microcosm of a once bustling culture, these tiny pockets are places that time has forgotten.

Their inaccessibility has resulted in their being barely touched by tourism and commercialization. These villages give one an insight into how life used to be.

The remote waters of Double Haven are dotted with islands, and lined with winding shorelines. Hakka clans have lived in this area for many centuries, farming and fishing.

 

Adventure Tours, Hong Kong

Wouter Van Marle’s company, Adventure Tours, aims to share the experience of uncovering little gems of Hong Kong’s culture and history. Van Marle aims to give participants a broader and deeper experience of Hong Kong.

Adventure Tours, with Mozaic Club, is offering a tour of the Hakka communities of Lai Chi Wo and Kat O.

A well preserved walled Hakka village, Lai Chi Wo is home to large mangroves and feng shui woods. It once hosted a population of over 3,000 people. Today, no more than a handful live here, though the residents are attempting to revitalise the little village.

Kat O island was once home to over 2,000 people across a dozen villages. Today, only a few dozen residents remain. The island boasts of a beautiful viewpoint, Tin Hau temple, a wishing tree, and abandoned houses. The structures, though abandoned, retain their old-world charm.

 

The Hakka People

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With unique clothing, different festivals, food and history, many think that the Hakka – one of China and Hong Kong’s most visibly distinct communities – are a different ethnic group. This isn’t the case, however. They are part of the Han Chinese ethnicity. However, their many differences from the Han makes them stand apart.

An estimated 80 million Chinese claim some Hakka heritage.

The Hakka, famous for their strength in the farm and with the sword, were originally settlers in China, encouraged by Imperial edict to migrate to far flung regions of the Chinese Empire. They moved in large numbers from North China to the Southern regions, which is where they got their name. Hakka literally means ‘Guest’.

 

Hakka Cuisine

Hakka cuisine is one of the pillars of Hakka culture. Though migration has influenced the cuisine from area to area, the cuisine maintains some distinct flavours across regions – salty, pickled, or with mustard seeds or greens – and some dishes remain distinct and easily recognisable as ‘Hakka’.

Hakka cuisine is much beloved, and many Hakka restaurants can be found in Hong Kong.

A pot luck style dish, ‘Pun Choi’, originates from Hong Kong’s Hakka community. This is often still served at traditional village celebrations including weddings and other special occasions. When on the tour at these traditional Hakka villages, remember to ask the community leaders how they prepare this and other traditional dishes!

 

Hakka Walled Villages

 

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When the Hakka arrived from Northern China to places like Hong Kong in the South, they were at risk of attack from other Hakka clans and the local populations. They set up distinctive walled villages to protect their communities.

While some of these have degraded or been assimilated into cities over time, others have survived. Many of these surviving walled villages are located in Hong Kong.

 

The Hakka People in Hong Kong

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An estimated 65% of Hakkas live in Hong Kong and the Guangdong province. They are today a large minority in the city, and their culture and community remains strong and close-knit here.

Traditional farmers, most Hakkas remained in this profession until the 1970s. They typically lived in closed communities in walled villages in Northern Hong Kong. However, the city’s rapid development has largely resulted in the end of this quiet way of life. Very few members of new generations remain in the farming industry in Hong Kong, given the job and growth opportunities in the big city.

Given this fact, it’s all the more precious to see that Hong Kong still remains home to living, unspoiled Hakka culture. In the walled villages, though many homes have been abandoned, the sight of the Hakka people in their traditional black clothing and wide brimmed hats originally intended for protection from the sun in the fields.

 

Specifics

Mozaic Club, in collaboration with Adventure Tours, is organising a tour of the Hakka walled villages in Northern Hong Kong on Sunday, 12 November 2017 from 7:30am to 5:00pm. If you are interested in participating, please visit our website on:  www.mozaiclub.com.hk or FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/mozaiclub/events

 

#mozaiclub #Hakka #Wouter #AdventureTour #HakkaTour

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