Hong Kong, April 2018: Situated along the eastern flanks of Kowloon is Cha Kwo Ling village, stumbled upon as I was stomping between Yau Tong (Google Map) and Kowloon Bay (Google Map) a few days ago. A quick history lesson courtesy of Wikipedia – the place was established mid 1800’s as a mining settlement. The surrounding hills rich in stone made for ideal building material as Hong Kong expanded. Post war and an influx of Chinese immigrants turned the place into a squatter camp which is why Hong Kong villages are anything but picturesque, thus far on my explorations anyway. The village is flanked by industry to the south and public housing blocks to the north and so having survived the wrath of the bulldozer, time to take a look around this little piece of Hong Kong’s heritage.
The first building one comes to, and indeed an indication a village exists here, is the village hall building. From the inscriptions one has to assume it was constructed in 1956 and belongs to a Chinese Association. A great little piece of heritage nestled at the base of Cha Kwo Ling Hill. Moving along the main road a few steps and one discovers another piece of heritage – a good old fashioned dragon boat! Not a very scary dragon I have to admit, but nonetheless another hidden little gem of Hong Kong life, and its right on street for everyone to see (Google Map).
Judging by the thick layer of dust I’d say this boat hasn’t seen water for a while. once upon a time, before the days of mass land reclamation programs (according to Wikipedia), this dragon boat would have been just a few steps from the waters edge but nowadays the village men folk would have to carry it some distance to find the waters edge.
Complimenting the place is the village temple located a few more steps along the busy main Cha Kwo Ling road. Hardly elaborate compared to other Chinese temples, this small building sits set back displaying at least a couple of scary dragons! Yes, another little bit of hidden heritage has been discovered.
The Village opens out and up onto the hillside from hereon in . Consisting of dark narrow alleyways the place resembles some of those Hong Kong movie-set’s we’d see growing up in front the television, 1970’s. A village shop, a cafe complete with village old-timers sitting around passing the time of day. I wounder how long it will be before the bulldozers arrive! Oh, has a kindergarten too..
I stumbled upon Cha Kwo Ling quite by accident. At first the place can feel intimidating but a few smiles and nods to the elders and one can freely roam without any problems. Definitely off the Hong Kong tourist trail and well worth a look if one is in the area. A good example of a Kowloon village before mass post war development took hold.