350-year-old Wong Chuk Yeung fenced, gated and padlocked by the greedy; only bats remain

by Trevor Bailey

The village of Wong Chuk Yeung, high on a plateau and founded in 1660, is fenced, gated and padlocked, but no housing has yet been built. The two-year-old “Wongaville Environmental Organic Project” has come to nothing — so far. The mechanical diggers have gone and the once flattened area, so big the Government Stadium could fit inside, is becoming overgrown.
SAI KUNG BUZZ wonders how dare the developers fence and padlock a village that is 350 years old. It is a heritage site, one of the few in Hong Kong that can be reached by car. What is wrong with our officials? They have set up at $500 million fund to finance heritage conservation. Well…!
For those who haven’t been there, you can drive or hike up Chuk Yeung Rd beyond the big aerial and keep going to the dead-end. About 20 ancient houses were built here in rows overlooking the paddy fields once terraced with rice and sugar crops. The area was settled by the Lees hundreds of years ago. In the 1950 iron mines on the other side of Ma On Shan were opened. This was fateful for the farmers of Wong Chuk Yeung. The mines lowered the water table and cultivation stopped. The farmers moved out.
You will find that you are locked out of the heritage village by the unscrupulous developers. Hash House Harriers and hikers who know the area will advise you to take back trails. From below the big aerial there is a trail that runs down to Sai Sha Road. A few hundred yards down a trail leads off to the left. It goes through thick woodlands before coming out on swampy, snakyfied ground with little bridges and rock paths at the back of the proposed development.
Until recently only one man lived there. He walked up and down the hill every day with two dogs, until they too were gone. One dog remained, a black bitch. She was fed by kind people who drove up regularly including the Chipps, Martin and Chelvi. Now the bitch has died.
Only bats remain at Wong Chuk Yeung. They hang, squashed together, from the roof of a back-row house.

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  1. An excellent follow-up article to the three “related” articles below it. Sha Lo Tung has now been saved by a land swop with the developer. Perhaps the same option could be pursued here in Wong Chuk Yeung?
    Of course, there has been NO action taken regarding the estimated 10% of conservation area/green belt/government land. Wong Chuk Yeung could be a wonderful living heritage site if the government had any imagination; the village could be demolished (other than the bat house) and replaced with a a reconstructed traditional Hakka village providing hostel and chalet accommodation for HK residents and eco-tourists with housing in the same style for indigenous villagers interested in restoring the land to farming (as in Lai Chi Wo).
    A green minibus service could be instituted from Sai Kung Town as the one track road with passing spaces should NOT be “improved” and private cars should be discouraged from using it.