I live and work in Hong Kong, and although I live in the New Territories, I had no idea this kind of village existed. Like many other expats that live in Hong Kong, it's easy to get into the routine life of spending your leisure time in the city. It was such a refreshing treat to go to the Ping Shan Heritage Trail. I am guilty of saying that Hong Kong has no culture, but after visiting this village I find myself dead wrong. The pace of life was completely different.
If you're interested in hearing more about my experience, please read the article on my blog.
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Local Culture: Rituals
This is a local shrine near the water's edge on the Ping Shan Heritage Trail. Local villagers come to do their prayers by lighting incense. These are also sometimes actually tombs to dead bodies, in which case people come to pay respects to their ancestors. However, this one does not contain any deceased.
I also saw who I believed to be an Imam walking down the street earlier, which surprised me quite a bit. However, as we walked further into the second village, I saw more Muslim people, and after seeing this, and what I think was a mosque in the distance, it all made more sense. It was really beautiful to see such diversity existing within the village. It wasn’t what I had expected at all. From a small town in California myself, I have seen racism toward Asian and Middle Eastern people first hand. In this city it is rare to see ethnic minorities besides Hispanic people, but times are changing in this global world. Sometimes I think Hong Kong can be small minded and a bit racist, based on the comments I overhear in day-to day conversation, but seeing this sort of thing makes me realize I should appreciate that Hong Kong is such a diverse place.
For more information about villages in Hong Kong and the things I saw this day, please visit my blog:
On the walk the restaurant where we were having lunch we came across a very interesting set of decorated Christmas trees. I couldn’t help but smile, although they for some reason appalled my local friend.
For lunch our group went to a traditional restaurant where we had Ping Shan traditional Poon Choi, a dish created to celebrate the Emperor’s arrival into the region. Historically the villagers collected all the best ingredients in the land, mixing them in a large bowl after cooking them to form a stunning platter fit for an emperor. The dish originated around 1200 AD when the Song Dynasty Emperor and his army fled to Southern Guangdong to escape the advancing Mongol armies.
For more information, please check out my blog posting: http://hongkongandbeyond.com/2011/12/08/the-other-side-of-hong-kong-village-life/
A ridiculous portion of Poon Choi. Inside were mushrooms, beef, fishballs, chicken, pork, fish, and other ingredients. Everything is cooked separately, and then combined, simmered together. It truly was a feast fit for a king.
This was one of the last destinations on our Ping Shan Heritage Trail adventure. Two very old women sit inside the doors, one on each side. They sit there offering to take a picture of you for $10 HK. While it felt rather commercial, and made me temporarily question the authenticity of this village experience compared to the previous village we had visited, you can hardly blame them for wanting to be compensated for having noisy tourists come inside their neighborhood to peer into their lives. However, compared to many other tourist attractions in HK, I still would not call this place "touristie," at least not during winter.
This juxtaposition of technology outside the Village walls gave me a chuckle. I just had to take a picture. You can also see the difference in wealth inside this village. One person has a new car, and another has an old bike. Perhaps the owner is even the same person. I will never know.