Ugly Hong Kong (3) – Lai Chee Wo

Let’s be honest. No matter how much we like to travel abroad, we always take our home city for granted because we think we are so familiar with it that there is nothing special, nothing interesting anymore. After Lonely Planet rated Lai Chee Wo, a traditional Hakka village, as one of the most worthy places to visit in Hong Kong, it was Hong Kong people who first rushed to visit it, not foreign visitors. Maybe we like to worship foreign brands, maybe we are more curious about what is so special about this place !

To be fair, there is a reason why not many Hongkongers have visited Lai Chee Wo. Most of its indigenous Hakka people themselves migrated to Scotland for a better life and it was a 1.5h commute from the city. Other outlying islands in Hong Kong that are inhabited by locals or foreigners are more lively and are usually popular as a weekend getaway destination. Those islands are definitely more pleasing to live because of a relatively small and close community, also more fun to visit because there are things to do. Although the retired Hakka aunts returned to Lai Chee Wo to help after the Lonely Planet nomination, they were tired of the sudden popularity and tourists’ questions. People who guided us in the village tour were also volunteers who were interested primarily in the geography and ecosystem but not the Hakka culture.

sunset-both
On the boat trip back to the city, I have missed you, Lai Chee Wo. And this sunset reminds me of you.

It was a sad, ugly truth, but I don’t see Lai Chee Wo getting more and more interesting as a place that I would like to visit again. It was certainly beautiful and I am so grateful the volunteers host us, but if neither its own Hakka people or the government is interested in reviving the village, it will die out no matter how many international travel brands have nominated it again or how many people have visited it. I don’t want this to happen, but there is nothing one outside individual can do to preserve a culture.

two-brits-at-the-back-of-the-boat
Maybe two outside individuals can ? They are very bright Brits – Nick and Louise
at-the-back-of-the-boat
Sorry I was leaving, don’t hate me birds
fire-house
Fire House on the boat – making the trip more dangerous !
boarding
I was so sad seeing many people getting on the boat to leave…
on-the-shore
So long… Lai Chee Wo. At least I looked back on the pier, I thought.
lunch-under-the-tree
It wasn’t long ago that we had a romantic lunch date under the big tree
village-temple-both
And we took a walk after the meal in the square
village-temple-gate
I was happy to see you open gates to me, but I have a bad record of committing to one place
door
Thank you for letting me know any of these houses will be cheaper than most out there in the market and I could actually afford one
farm
And here you are, a farm that I never knew Hong Kong had

I liked Lai Chee Wo because it was a special trip in a bright sunny day. I know that it being so quiet and remote will be a heaven for me, a weird introvert who hate humans, one day. Sadly, for now, I must get back out there in the city and finish what I had to do. I will miss you and I wish to see you again, Lai Chee Wo.

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