Dermott visited Hong Kong's New Territories and found it hard to believe that the heavily built-up area was once home to paddies, fields and little villages. Now it's home to around half of Hong Kong's seven million residents.
The New Territories were developed to house the growing population, but there are still rural areas, parks and two heritage trails winding through old walled villages, ancestral halls, study halls, shrines and temples.
Ping Shan and Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trails are far from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, offering a peaceful insight into history and culture. The track Dermott chose takes around 45 minutes to reach the top, but there are plenty of interesting things to see along the way.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Hong Kong was vulnerable to pirate attacks. Villagers built fortifying stone walls some with cannons. They are around 1.5 metres thick and have been standing since the 16th century and villagers living there today are descendants of those who built them.
Lo Wai, in the west of Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall, was the first walled village built by the Tang clan. Built on a small hill, it was totally enclosed by brick walls. The original village entrance faced the north, but was relocated later to face the east in order to achieve better fung-shui. Next to the entrance is a well which supplied the village's water.
The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees is where locals worship. During Chinese new year, many people from Hong Kong make a pilgrimage and tie wish-making papers to wooden racks.
The Tin Hau temple's main hall is dedicated to the goddess of the sea who watched over village fishermen. Man Mo Hall is dedicated to the god of literature, the god of war and the god of justice. Two impressive bronze bells cast in 1695 and 1700 are on the floor of the chamber.
Custom says you need to step with the left foot first, taking your troubles inside.
The New Territories, a half hour drive from Hong Kong.
Virgin Atlantic has flights to Hong Kong from:
- Brisbane $1132
- Adelaide $1133
- Melbourne $1135
- Sydney $1156
Sale and validity dates and other conditions apply.
Prices correct at November 5, 2011.
For further information
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Level 4, 7 Macquarie Place
Ph: 1300 727 340
Visa: Not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz.
Time zone: GMT +8 hours.
Currency: The Hong Kong dollar.
Telephone code: +852.
It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for areas you will be visiting. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.