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Climbing the Levelled Hill.

Walking the Ping Shan Heritage Trail

sunny

Yesterday I decided to walk the Ping Shan Heritage Trail. To get there I took the MTR West Rail Line to Tin Shui Wai and exited through exit E. On one side of the rail line here, there are the huge tower blocks of Tin Shui Wai and on the other side lots of low level, traditional rural villages. The Ping Shan Heritage Trail was inaugurated on the 12th of December 1993. It goes through three villages: Hang Tau Tsuen, Hang Mei Tsuen and Sheung Cheung Wai and includes several beautiful old Chinese buildings. Interspersed with the buildings which are actually mentioned on the trail, there are many other lovely old buildings, too, plus lots of colourful flowers around the village houses

Ping means level or peaceful and Shan means mountain or hill. Ping Shan probably means levelled hill as most of this area is actually quite flat. Before going on this walk, I read several reviews of this trail and they were really mixed. Some people loved it, others said there was nothing to see here and it was not worth the trek. I absolutely loved it. I think it depends very much on whether you like historical sights or not. I certainly do, plus it was a fantastic place for taking photos. Every building on the trail was free entry. Some had attendants, some didn't, but basically everyone just left me alone to wander wherever I wanted and take as many pictures as I liked to me that is bliss.

The villages in this area largely belonged to the Tang Clan. One of their ancestors, Tang Hon-fat, came to the Guangdong area around 960 A.D. Later his great grandson, Tang Fu-hip, expanded his ancestral home into what is now known as Kam Tin walled village in the New Territories. Then in the twelfth century another descendant, Tang Yuen-ching, moved his family from Kam Tin to Ping Shan where he established three walled villages and six non-walled villages. He also built ancestral halls, study halls, temples and a pagoda.

To find my way around the trail I used a map that I had found online. There are occasional signposts dotted around with this map on them. The map is necessary as there are not many signs around telling people where to go. I thought I had done everything on the trail, but later realised I had actually missed one sight. Oh well, such is life.

Trail Map.

Trail Map.

If you exit Tin Shui Wai Station through exit E3, you will end up in the light rail station. If you exit from there and go left, despite a sign post telling you to go the other way, you will come to the Tat Tak Communal Hall. This hall served as a place to assemble, a place to worship and as the management office of a market. It dates from 1857. It was here in 1899 that Tang Clan members met up to organise armed resistance to the British takeover of the New Territories. What I liked best about here, and most of the other buildings, was if you looked hard enough, you could find lots of beautiful little details on the walls, on the roof, in the windows and on the doors.

Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Courtyard inside Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Courtyard inside Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Doorways inside Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Doorways inside Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Door god.

Door god.

Door god.

Door god.

Window inside Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Window inside Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Window.

Window.

There wasn't much furniture inside the hall.

There wasn't much furniture inside the hall.

These wooden banners depict a verse or saying..

These wooden banners depict a verse or saying..

There were lots of beautiful paintings on the walls and roofs.

There were lots of beautiful paintings on the walls and roofs.

Flowers and Birds Paintings.

Flowers and Birds Paintings.

Flowers and Birds Paintings.

Flowers and Birds Paintings.

Dragons and an Ox, maybe.

Dragons and an Ox, maybe.

Inside the Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Inside the Tat Tak Communal Hall.

Nearby to the hall I noticed a rooster statue and a little shrine.

Rooster.

Rooster.

Shrine next to the rooster.

Shrine next to the rooster.

I then headed towards the Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda which means the Pagoda of Gathering Stars. Apparently this is the only ancient pagoda in Hong Kong. It was built by Tang Yin-tung more than six hundred years ago. It is a thirteen metre tall, three-storied hexagonal building. Unfortunately, it is only possible to visit the ground floor. There is a little shrine inside. At one time the Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda was located at the mouth of a river, though this has now silted up. The pagoda's feng shui was supposed to ward off evil spirits and prevent flooding. Another aspect of the pagoda's feng shui was its alignment with Castle Peak Mountain was supposed to ensure success for clan members in the imperial civil service examinations.

Pagoda.

Pagoda.

Pagoda.

Pagoda.

Inside the Pagoda.

Inside the Pagoda.

After visiting the pagoda I set off towards the earth god shrine. On route I passed a pleasant pond which was filled with reeds and ducks. I say pond but maybe this was at one time part of the river which has since silted up. Either way it was a very pleasant spot.

At the River.

At the River.

At the River.

At the River.

At the River.

At the River.

Not far from the pond there is a shrine to the earth god. Apparently altars like this are commonly found in traditional Chinese villages. The earth god is the protector of the village. His shrine is generally a simple brick structure.

Earth god shrine.

Earth god shrine.

Earth god shrine.

Earth god shrine.

Earth god shrine.

Earth god shrine.

Dragon at Earth god shrine.

Dragon at Earth god shrine.

I noticed there were some beautiful flowers around in this area and rather strangely a bicycle dangling from a tree.

Village House.

Village House.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Dangling Bicycle.

Dangling Bicycle.

After visiting the earth god shrine, I visited Sheung Cheung Wai which is a walled village. At one time it was surrounded by a moat. At the end of the central path there is a little shrine. The streets in here are quite narrow. This was one of my favourite parts of the trail, but I've just realised it is actually private property and I wasn't supposed to go in.

Flowers outside the walled village.

Flowers outside the walled village.

Walled Village.

Walled Village.

Entrance to the walled village.

Entrance to the walled village.

In the walled village.

In the walled village.

In the walled village.

In the walled village.

In the walled village.

In the walled village.

Walled Village Shrine.

Walled Village Shrine.

Walled Village Shrine.

Walled Village Shrine.

I've been struggling to understand why Chinese people would have a god with a crocodile head. That sounds much more like Ancient Egypt to me, but I think the mystery is solved. The villages here used to compete against each other in dragon boat races. When their river silted up and was partially drained, which was why I thought it might be a pond, they buried the hulls of their dragon boats and gave the dragon heads to each village to place in their village shrine. So this crocodile like creature is a dragon, much more Chinese.

Far side of walled village.

Far side of walled village.

Far side of walled village.

Far side of walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Narrow street in walled village.

Fancy Doorways.

Fancy Doorways.

The next sight after the walled village was the former village well which is now filled with fish. This well was built by residents of Hang Tai Tsuen more than two hundred years ago. It used to be the drinking water supply for Hang Tai Tsuen and Sheung Cheung Wai. Again there were nice village houses and colourful flowers around here.

Village Well.

Village Well.

Former Village Well.

Former Village Well.

Fish in the former village well.

Fish in the former village well.

Fish in the former village well.

Fish in the former village well.

Village House.

Village House.

Flowers outside village house.

Flowers outside village house.

Village Street.

Village Street.

Flowers on a Village Street.

Flowers on a Village Street.

After the well I visited Yeung Hau Temple which is dedicated to the deity Hau Wong. He was a Song dynasty general who gave up his life to protect the last two Song Dynasty Emperors. He is worshipped for his bravery and loyalty. The temple is several hundred years old. It houses three deities Hau Wong, To Tei - the earth god and Kam Fa, patron saint of expectant mothers. There are some lovely paintings in this temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Hau Wong.

Hau Wong.

To Tei.

To Tei.

Kam Fa.

Kam Fa.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

View from Yeung Hau Temple.

View from Yeung Hau Temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Yeung Hau Temple.

Next on the list was the Tang Ancestral Hall which was built by Tang Fung-shun about seven hundred years ago. This is still used for worship, festivals, ceremonies and clan meetings. This building consists of three halls and two internal courtyards. There's an elevated red sandstone pathway in the front courtyard which suggests that one of the Tang clansmen once held a high ranking position in the Imperial government.

Entrance, Tang Ancestral Hall.

Entrance, Tang Ancestral Hall.

School Children Carrying out a Project, Tang Ancestral Hall.

School Children Carrying out a Project, Tang Ancestral Hall.

School Children Carrying Out a Project, Tang Ancestral Hall.

School Children Carrying Out a Project, Tang Ancestral Hall.

Tang Ancestral Hall.

Tang Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard Tang Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard Tang Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Tang Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Tang Ancestral Hall.

View Through Circular Door, Tang Ancestral Hall.

View Through Circular Door, Tang Ancestral Hall.

View Through Circular Door, Tang Ancestral Hall.

View Through Circular Door, Tang Ancestral Hall.

Drums in Tang Ancestral Hall.

Drums in Tang Ancestral Hall.

Photo of Festival in Tang Ancestral Hall.

Photo of Festival in Tang Ancestral Hall.

Next door to the Tang Ancestral Hall is the Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall. This was constructed in the sixteenth century by two members of the Tang Clan: Tang Sai-ying and Tai Sai-chiu. As well as being an ancestral hall, this building has also been a school. The Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall has three halls and two courtyards. There was a beautiful silk wall hanging on display here, as well as some dragon dance costumes and lots of bonsai trees. The silk wall hanging was made to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of an important lady member of the Tang Clan. It shows the goddess of longevity and tells the story of the lady's son and son-in-law who were able to attend the sixtieth birthday of General Gao Ziyi of the Tang Dynasty.

Tang and Yu Kiu Ancestral Halls.

Tang and Yu Kiu Ancestral Halls.

Entrance, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Entrance, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Courtyard, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Shrine, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Shrine, Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Dragon in Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Dragon in Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

The rest of the dragon.

The rest of the dragon.

Detail of Ancestral Hall Roofs.

Detail of Ancestral Hall Roofs.

Details of Ancestral Hall Roofs.

Details of Ancestral Hall Roofs.

Silk Hanging.

Silk Hanging.

Detail of Silk Hanging.

Detail of Silk Hanging.

Detail of Silk Hanging.

Detail of Silk Hanging.

Detail of Silk Hanging.

Detail of Silk Hanging.

Detail of silk hanging.

Detail of silk hanging.

Bonsai Trees.

Bonsai Trees.

There was another old building next to the Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall. I'm not sure what it was. I could only go into the courtyard The rest of the building was closed. In this area there was also a large square now being used as a car park, old cannons, a strangely dumped vehicle and some beautiful houses and again lots of flowers.

Building next to Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Building next to Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Building next to Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Building next to Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

Cannon.

Cannon.

Village House.

Village House.

Bicycles on a village street.

Bicycles on a village street.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Firecrackers round a door.

Firecrackers round a door.

A tricky parking manoeuvre.

A tricky parking manoeuvre.

Washing drying in a narrow street.

Washing drying in a narrow street.

Village Shrine.

Village Shrine.

Narrow Streets.

Narrow Streets.

The next building on the trail was the Kun Ting Study Hall. I thought this was the most beautiful of all the buildings due to its decorated blue wooden panels and stain glass doors. The Kun Ting Study Hall was built in 1870 by Tang Heung-chuen in memory of his father, Tang Kun-ting. The study hall provided facilities for ancestor worship and education. It has two halls and one courtyard. In 1899 the British turned this study hall into a police station and land office. The Kun Ting Study Hall was beautifully restored in 1991 using funds from a donation given by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Entrance, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Entrance, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Interior, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Interior, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Beautiful Courtyard, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Beautiful Courtyard, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Courtyard, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Courtyard, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Shutters, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Shutters, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Stain Glass Shutters, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Stain Glass Shutters, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Stain Glass,  Kun Ting Study Hall.

Stain Glass, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Doors, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Doors, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Detail Kun Ting Study Hall.

Detail Kun Ting Study Hall.

Detail Kun Ting Study Hall.

Detail Kun Ting Study Hall.

Detail Kun Ting study Hall.

Detail Kun Ting study Hall.

Painting in Kun Ting Study Hall.

Painting in Kun Ting Study Hall.

Furniture, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Furniture, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Shrine, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Shrine, Kun Ting Study Hall.

Fancy Car parked outside the study hall.

Fancy Car parked outside the study hall.

Directly next door to the Kun Ting Study Hall is the Ching Shu Hin Building. This was a guest house for prominent visitors and scholars. It is connected to the Kun Ting Study Hall by a small footbridge on the first floor. This building had bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and a lobby. At one time it was lavishly decorated with carved panels and murals This was also restored in 1993 using a Hong Kong Jockey Club Donation. The interior was lovely and dark and cool here, a welcome escape from the outside sun.

Entranceway.

Entranceway.

Entranceway.

Entranceway.

Beautiful Decorations adorn the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Beautiful Decorations adorn the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Courtyard.

Courtyard.

Looking at the Upper stories of the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Looking at the Upper stories of the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Shady Passages in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Shady Passages in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Shady Passages in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Shady Passages in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Circular Doorways, in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Circular Doorways, in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Furniture in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Furniture in the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Inside the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Inside the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Oddly Shaped Door.

Oddly Shaped Door.

Kitchens, the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Kitchens, the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Stairway, the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Stairway, the Ching Shu Hin Building.

Ching Shu Hin.

Ching Shu Hin.

Next I crossed Ping Ha Road in search of the entrance to Shing Hut Study Hall. On route I passed another village shrine. It took me a while to find the Shing Hut Study Hall as I did not realise it had been demolished except for its entranceway which was now incorporated into several village houses. I didn't mind wandering aimlessly though as the village houses here were lovely and there were so many plants and beautiful old trees. I think I ended up photographing the whole of the village. I even loved all their doorways. There were several old buildings here that had new buildings added on and appeared to be lived in.

Village Shrine

Village Shrine

.

Doorways.

Doorways.

Doorways.

Doorways.

Doorway and Basket.

Doorway and Basket.

Beautiful Bird of Paradise Flowers.

Beautiful Bird of Paradise Flowers.

Old Blends with New.

Old Blends with New.

Village houses and Flowers.

Village houses and Flowers.

Village houses and Flowers.

Village houses and Flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Run down House.

Run down House.

Bicycles.

Bicycles.

Interesting Tree.

Interesting Tree.

Village House.

Village House.

Entrance of Shut Ying Study Hall.

Entrance of Shut Ying Study Hall.

Entrance of Shut Ying Study Hall.

Entrance of Shut Ying Study Hall.

Then I walked back to Ping Ha road and turned right to walk to Hung Shing Temple. This was located on a pretty little square and was next to an important looking building that was not part of the trail. I don't suppose it was open to the public, but I looked in anyway.

Village Square.

Village Square.

Village Square.

Village Square.

Important looking building next to temple.

Important looking building next to temple.

Important looking building next to temple.

Important looking building next to temple.

Narrow Street.

Narrow Street.

The Hung Shing Temple was built in 1767 and later rebuilt in 1866. It is dedicated Hung Shing, god of fishermen. The temple has two halls and a courtyard. I liked the paintings on its doorway and the dragon incense burner outside.

Outside of Hung Shing Temple.

Outside of Hung Shing Temple.

Dragons Outside Hung Shing Temple.

Dragons Outside Hung Shing Temple.

Hung Shing Temple Doorway.

Hung Shing Temple Doorway.

Detail of Hung Shing Temple Doorway.

Detail of Hung Shing Temple Doorway.

Inside the Hung Shing Temple.

Inside the Hung Shing Temple.

Inside the Hung Shing Temple.

Inside the Hung Shing Temple.

Inside the Hung Shing Temple.

Inside the Hung Shing Temple.

Inside Hung Shing Temple.

Inside Hung Shing Temple.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

Temple Painting.

After that I climbed up the hill to the Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery and Heritage Trail Visitors Centre. This is housed in an old colonial building which was once the Ping Shan Police Station. The police stopped using the building in 2001 and it became a visitors centre in 2007. Unfortunately it was closed for renovation when I visited. There was a little sitting out terrace next to the centre which had good views over Yuen Long.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery Stairway.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery Stairway.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery Balcony.

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery Balcony.

View from outside the gallery.

View from outside the gallery.

View.

View.

Then I walked back down the hill passing some lovely buildings on the way. I could have taken the light rail back to my starting point, but it wasn't far to walk so I just wandered back on foot photographing even more flowers and some pretty little cafes on my way back.

Village Buildings.

Village Buildings.

Village Buildings.

Village Buildings.

Orchids.

Orchids.

Papaya Fruit Growing on Tree.

Papaya Fruit Growing on Tree.

Doorway Celebrating Year of the Ox.

Doorway Celebrating Year of the Ox.

Cafe.

Cafe.

Cafe.

Cafe.

Cafe.

Cafe.

Village Street.

Village Street.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Rose.

Rose.

That evening Peter and I went out for an Indian meal with a friend to celebrate Peter's seventy-second birthday which was a couple of days ago.

Indian Meal.

Indian Meal.

Indian Meal.

Indian Meal.

Indian Meal.

Indian Meal.

Posted by irenevt 06:13 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Tsui Sing Lau Pagodas feng shui warding off flooding clearly worked if there is not even river anymore....:)

Your friends birthday celebration meal looks delicious!!

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna, yes the meal was delicious. It was my husband's 72nd birthday we were celebrating.

by irenevt

You're right. Seems the Feng Shui of the pagoda worked a bit too well

by irenevt

Oops, I must have read too fast..again...Happy birthday to Peter!

by hennaonthetrek

Thank you.

by irenevt

Hi, You know how to find wonderful pictures. There is a district of where i live [York] called Tang Hall, not as nice as H.K.

by alectrevor

Hi Alec I'd never heard of your Tang Hall but just googled it, agree mine sounds nicer. Mind you it's all a matter of taste. all the best, Irene

by irenevt

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