A Travellerspoint blog

Running Away in Big Steps.

Exploring Tai Po.

sunny

Spiral Lookout Tower.

Spiral Lookout Tower.

Yesterday I went to Tai Po in the Eastern New Territories.

In Cantonese words change their meaning depending on which tone they are said in. Tai means big and Po means port or seaside so Tai Po probably means Big Place on the Sea Side. However, Po pronounced in a different tone means steps or strides, so there is a joke here that Tai Po means Big Steps, as it's so far out in the wilds and there are so many wild animals that the inhabitants are constantly running away from them in big steps. You may have to be Cantonese to find this funny, but I thought it was quite cute.

Tai Po originated as a market town. The first market here was located near what is now Tai Wo Station. It was controlled by the very powerful Tang Clan. They charged high rents to stall holders and demanded discounts for themselves on many goods. They also controlled access to the market by owning the ferry boat many people had to use to get there. In 1892, seven years before the British leased the New Territories, a group of seven villages united together to form the Tsat Yeuk or Alliance of Seven. They were tired of the Tangs' monopoly and wanted to create their own market. The new market was centred around Fu Shin Street on the other side of the Lam Tsuen River. In addition to creating the market the Tsat Yeuk built the Man Mo Temple, a well and the Kwong Fuk Bridge across the Lam Tsuen River.

I began my explorations of Tai Po at the Lam Tsuen River. This river originates on the slopes of Tai Mo Shan. In fact it's the river I was exploring on my waterfall hike in my last blog. It is around 10.8km long and empties into the Tolo Harbour near Tai Po. There are several beautiful bridges crossing this river in Tai Po. Two of the most attractive are the Kwong Fuk Bridge and the Tai Wo Bridge.

The Kwong Fuk Bridge was originally built in 1896 to allow people easy and free access to the markets on both sides of the river. The original bridge has been replaced and the new bridge is in a slightly different position. The Tai Wo Bridge is similar in style to the Kwong Fuk Bridge, but I can find no information about when it was built. I suspect it may not actually be very old. Anyway I found both bridges rather beautiful.

Tai Wo Bridge.

Tai Wo Bridge.

Tai Wo Bridge.

Tai Wo Bridge.

View along Lam Tsuen River.

View along Lam Tsuen River.

Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Boats on the Lam Tsuen River viewed from the Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Boats on the Lam Tsuen River viewed from the Kwong Fuk Bridge.

People enjoying resting in the shade on the Kwong Fuk Bridge.

People enjoying resting in the shade on the Kwong Fuk Bridge.

Around both bridges there were lots of small boats and many beautiful wading birds: mainly egrets and herons.

Egret.

Egret.

Heron.

Heron.

Although we used to come to Tai Po a lot when we lived in Fo Tan (because our favourite Indian restaurant was located here), I don't know where all the historical buildings are, so I was pleased to see lots of pink tourist signs. These helped me find everything I wanted to see.

The next sight I found was the Man Mo Temple. This is dedicated to Man Tai, god of literature, and Mo Tai, god of war. It was built in the 1890's by the Tsat Yeuk. It is located on Fu Shing Street, right in the middle of the market. The temple was originally used as an arbitration centre to settle any disputes between stall holders and customers. A set of scales were kept here for this purpose. It was also believed that people would not cheat others right in front of their gods. In 1984, the temple became a declared monument, making it the first building in the New Territories protected by the Antiquities and Monuments Department.

Entrance to the Man Mo Temple.

Entrance to the Man Mo Temple.

Incense burner.

Incense burner.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Incense coils.

Incense coils.

Next, I wandered around the market stalls on Fu Shing Street. You can buy all sorts here: fruit, vegetables, meat, dried goods. It was quite colourful and bustling. While I was wandering around taking photos, a large group of police or possibly health inspectors turned up and started taking photos. This was enough to drive me away.

Busy market street.

Busy market street.

Vegetable stall.

Vegetable stall.

Fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables.

Fruit.

Fruit.

Dried goods.

Dried goods.

Dried goods.

Dried goods.

Market stalls.

Market stalls.

Market stalls.

Market stalls.

Market stalls.

Market stalls.

I was disappointed with the next sight as it was closed and I really wanted to see it. I assumed it's closure was due to COVID, but have since found out it was only closed because I visited on a Tuesday and that museums have in fact opened up again. This is great news for me, as I will just go back on another day. This museum is the Hong Kong Railway Museum. It is located in the old Tai Po Market Station and displays several old trains. I will add photos after I visit.

This museum is open-air and occupies 6,500 square meters. The old Tai Po Market Railway Station was built in 1913. It has a traditional Chinese pitched roof. It was opened as a museum in 1985.

Sign for Railway Museum.

Sign for Railway Museum.

I walked from the Railway Museum to Tai Po's main square which is known as Tai Ming Lane Square. This is where four busy lanes: Kwong Fuk Lane, Tai Wing Lane, Tai Kwong Lane and Tai Ming Lane, come together to form a square. There were lots of people sitting around enjoying the open air here. There was also a very beautiful flowering tree. Before the 1960's this square was the site of watercress fields.

Tai Ming Lane Square.

Tai Ming Lane Square.

Tai Ming Lane Square.

Tai Ming Lane Square.

Tai Ming Lane Square.

Tai Ming Lane Square.

Flowering tree in the square.

Flowering tree in the square.

I then did a bit of aimless wandering around. I found a huge, modern, glass building called the Tai Po Complex which contains government offices, a library, leisure facilities, a market and the Tai Po Cooked Food Centre. Then, I found an old looking building I thought looked nice, but I don't know what it is and next to that there was a lovely church called The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, which dates from 1961. I also found some attractive looking village houses.

Tai Po Complex.

Tai Po Complex.

Not sure what this old building is, but I liked it.

Not sure what this old building is, but I liked it.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Virgin Mary statue outside The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Virgin Mary statue outside The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Art outside The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Art outside The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Street art with egrets. I saw lots of these.

Street art with egrets. I saw lots of these.

Village Houses.

Village Houses.

Wan Tai Tong Square.

Wan Tai Tong Square.

Flowers brightening up a Tai Po street.

Flowers brightening up a Tai Po street.

After this I went to see two important historical buildings in Tai Po. I never used to be interested in Hong Kong history, so on all of my earlier visits to Tai Po I didn't even know these existed.

On the 9th of June 1898, British Colonial Secretary, James Stewart Lockhart, and a representative of the Qing Emperor signed the Second Convention of Peking. This granted the British a 99-year lease of the New Territories. Members of the Punti Clans living in the New Territories, mainly around the Kam Tin and Tai Po areas, were opposed to the British takeover, as they were worried about land use, preserving their customs and their traditional inheritance rights.

In April 1899, the British set up mastheads on Flagstaff Hill, Tai Po for a flag raising ceremony, but members of the Punti Clans burnt these down. 125 Indian soldiers of the Royal Hong Kong Regiment were sent in to sort this out, but they were quickly besieged by villagers. These events led to The Six Day War which lasted from April 14th to 19th 1899. The British were much better armed than the Punti Clans and rapidly repelled the rebellion. Around five hundred Chinese clansmen were killed in the fighting, but the British wanted peace in the New Territories, so they made concessions about customs and land inheritance to the indigenous peoples there. Even now some of the laws in the New Territories are different to laws in the rest of Hong Kong.

The first lovely old building I went to see was the Old Tai Po Police Station. This was completed in 1889 and this was the site where the flag raising ceremony to mark British control of the New Territories was supposed to take place. This is the oldest surviving police station in the New Territories. During the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, the police station was abandoned. Its windows, doors and wooden floors were looted by nearby residents. After the war, the building was restored and it was used as a police station again until 1987. Nowadays this building is known as the Green Hub. It is under the management of The Kadoorie Farms and Botanical Gardens Group. It is a centre for conservation and sustainable living.

The Old Tai Po Police Station is made up of three single-storey buildings: the Main Building, the Staff Quarters Block and the Canteen Block. It was declared a monument in 2021. Again, because it was Tuesday, I could not go inside, so I just took some photos through the fence.

Entrance to  Wan Tau Kok Playground at the foot of Flagstaff Hill, but marked Tai Po Primary School.

Entrance to Wan Tau Kok Playground at the foot of Flagstaff Hill, but marked Tai Po Primary School.

Wan Tau Kok Playground at the foot of Flagstaff Hill.

Wan Tau Kok Playground at the foot of Flagstaff Hill.

Tai Po Old Police Station.

Tai Po Old Police Station.

Tai Po Old Police Station.

Tai Po Old Police Station.

Just across from the Old Tai Po Police Station, there is another beautiful old building. This one is The Old District Office North. It was built in 1907 and was the earliest seat of the colonial civil administration of the New Territories. There was a magistrates court here right up until 1961. Nowadays this building is home to the Law Ting Pong Scout Centre. This building was declared a monument in 1981.

Tai Po North District Offices.

Tai Po North District Offices.

Tai Po North District Offices.

Tai Po North District Offices.

The next part of my explorations involved quite a bit of walking. I visited Yuen Chau Tsai Park. Chau means island and, prior to land reclamation, this area was an island in Tolo Harbour. There's a lovely temple here and a beautiful old house called Island House. Yuen Chau Tsai Park is a pleasant park with little pavilions, a waterside walkway, dragon boats, greenery and flowers.

Boats on the river on the walk to Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Boats on the river on the walk to Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Beautiful flowers in Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Beautiful flowers in Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Beautiful flowers in Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Beautiful flowers in Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Pavilion, Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Pavilion, Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Yuen Chau Tsai Park.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Island House was built in 1905 as the residence for the first British Police Magistrate. It later became the official residence of the North District Officer and the residences of District Commissioners for the New Territories. The last resident of Island House was Sir David Akers-Jones, who was the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong from 1985 to 1987. Island House is now home to the World Wildlife Fund of Hong Kong. It is possible to visit here on a tour. I believe they do some craft and conservation related workshops, too.

Island House.

Island House.

Island House.

Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Coastal view next to Island House.

Hut next to Island House.

Hut next to Island House.

Helipad near Island House.

Helipad near Island House.

World Wildlife Fund Notice.

World Wildlife Fund Notice.

The temple here is the Tai Wong Yeh Temple. It dates from the middle of the Qing Dynasty. Originally there was just a stone tablet here, but later a group of fishermen raised funds to build a temple to Tai Wong Yeh. There's a pleasant little garden with a statue of Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy, a water feature and some orchids at the back of the temple.

At the entrance of the Tai Wong Yeh Temple.

At the entrance of the Tai Wong Yeh Temple.

Lanterns inside the temple.

Lanterns inside the temple.

Lanterns inside the temple.

Lanterns inside the temple.

Inside the Tai Wong Yeh Temple.

Inside the Tai Wong Yeh Temple.

Incense coils.

Incense coils.

Kuan Yin Statue in the temple garden

Kuan Yin Statue in the temple garden

Kuan Yin Statue.

Kuan Yin Statue.

Orchid in garden of Tai Wong Yeh Temple.

Orchid in garden of Tai Wong Yeh Temple.

Panel at front of temple

Panel at front of temple

The best thing about this area were the egrets, lots and lots of egrets. There were so many of them just off shore when I visited. They were really beautiful to watch.

Lots of egrets.

Lots of egrets.

Lots of egrets.

Lots of egrets.

Egret on a branch.

Egret on a branch.

Egret about to take off.

Egret about to take off.

When I reached the end of Yuen Chau Tsai Park I was right on the river. I could see my next destination, Tai Po Waterfront Park on the other side of the water, so I had to wander over the nearby bridge.

Bridge between Yuen Chau Tsai Park and Tai Po Waterfront Park.

Bridge between Yuen Chau Tsai Park and Tai Po Waterfront Park.

Bridge between Yuen Chau Tsai Park and Tai Po Waterfront Park.

Bridge between Yuen Chau Tsai Park and Tai Po Waterfront Park.

Tai Po Waterfront Park is a really beautiful park, filled with lots of greenery and flowers. It opened in 1994. It's pretty big, occupying twenty-two hectares, and apparently it cost around HK$210 million to build. The park is located between Tai Po Industrial Zone and the Tolo Harbour. There are lots of different gardens here such as: the rose gardens, western gardens, kite flying lawns, water feature gardens. There are also children's play areas, a jogging track and a cycling track. It's possible to hire bikes here. There's a cycle track from here all the way to Tai Mei Tuk in one direction and to Tai Wai in the other. Plus there is an Insect House. The most famous part of the park is the Spiral Lookout Tower, which is 32.4 metres high and provides excellent views over Tolo Harbour. I noticed a couple of cafes where you can have light refreshments, though I didn't try these.There's also a 1.2 kilometre promenade along the waterfront. I walked right to the end of this.

There were several parts of this park I really wanted to see and the spiral lookout tower was one of them. It's located in a garden with ponds. There's a bridge in front of it and it looks out over Tolo Harbour, the industrial estate and Tai Po. I loved the views and even liked the inner view of the tower itself.

Spiral Tower.

Spiral Tower.

Spiral Lookout Tower.

Spiral Lookout Tower.

Inside Spiral Lookout Tower.

Inside Spiral Lookout Tower.

View from Spiral Lookout Tower.

View from Spiral Lookout Tower.

View from Spiral Lookout Tower.

View from Spiral Lookout Tower.

View from Spiral Lookout Tower.

View from Spiral Lookout Tower.

I also rather liked the so called Western Garden. What I enjoyed here was that parts of the garden were life sized paintings of natural scenes, but they had plants growing over them - a sort of blurring of nature and art - quite clever I thought. There were also lots of statues in this garden.

The western garden.

The western garden.

In the western garden.

In the western garden.

In the western garden.

In the western garden.

In the western garden.

In the western garden.

Statue in Western Garden.

Statue in Western Garden.

There were other examples of art, too in the form of graffiti art and small paintings that you could scan an app to see in 3-d. I didn't try this.

Graffiti.

Graffiti.

Elephant.

Elephant.

This cat can be made to look 3-d.

This cat can be made to look 3-d.

As you would expect the gardens were home to some really beautiful trees and flowers. There were lots of splashes of colour everywhere.

Bougainvillia.

Bougainvillia.

Flowering tree.

Flowering tree.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Lovely blue flowers.

Lovely blue flowers.

Flower.

Flower.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

I decided to walk all the way along the waterfront which was quite pretty. It ends at Tolo Corner and an area where you can fish or enjoy the views. I loved the yellow flowering plants which lined the waterfront. There were some pavilions on route where you could rest in the shade. Someone was playing the violin in one of these. Rather incongruously behind the waterfront promenade there are lots of factories in Tai Po Industrial Zone.

Pavilion.

Pavilion.

People fishing in Tolo Harbour.

People fishing in Tolo Harbour.

View across Tolo Harbour.

View across Tolo Harbour.

Walking along the waterfront promenade.

Walking along the waterfront promenade.

On the Waterfront Promenade.

On the Waterfront Promenade.

Monument on the Waterfront Promenade.

Monument on the Waterfront Promenade.

Monument on the Waterfront Promenade.

Monument on the Waterfront Promenade.

Tolo Corner at the end of the waterfront promenade

Tolo Corner at the end of the waterfront promenade

Fish that swim in Tolo Harbour.

Fish that swim in Tolo Harbour.

Tai Po Industrial Zone behind the park.

Tai Po Industrial Zone behind the park.

Looking towards Ma On Shan.

Looking towards Ma On Shan.

Looking towards Ma On Shan or Saddleback Mountain.

Looking towards Ma On Shan or Saddleback Mountain.

Looking up towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking up towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking up towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking up towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Other things I noticed about the park were it had a large open air arena, there were many wooden models of animals, there were several lawns and one of these was popular with people flying their kites.

On the kite flying lawn.

On the kite flying lawn.

Stone Lantern.

Stone Lantern.

Wooden bird.

Wooden bird.

Wooden birds

Wooden birds

Wooden deer.

Wooden deer.

Water garden.

Water garden.

Arena

Arena

I decided to walk back to the centre and the MTR station, but I took a different route along the river. I was surprised and fascinated to see several bridges covered with people's drying washing. I think this is a great idea, but you don't see people drying stuff outside like this in many parts of Hong Kong.

Washing drying on the bridge.

Washing drying on the bridge.

Washing drying on the bridge.

Washing drying on the bridge.

Washing left out to dry on the bridge.

Washing left out to dry on the bridge.

Back in the centre I passed a pub that is supposed to be very popular with ex-pats. Of course it was closed as bars are still forced to shut down due to COVID regulations.

I liked this house.

I liked this house.

The Bobby London Pub.

The Bobby London Pub.

I took the train back home from Tai Po Market Station. When I switched lines in Hung Hom, I took a picture of the flower decorations that are on the walls of East rail line stations. Hung Hom is represented by the hibiscus.

Hibiscus Art at Hung Hom Station.

Hibiscus Art at Hung Hom Station.

Posted by irenevt 12:41 Archived in Hong Kong

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

I love your extended blog - filled with history, art, flowers and egrets! Perfect - thanks for sharing

by Catherine

Glad you enjoyed it, Catherine. The egrets were the best bit.

by irenevt

I'm continually amazed at how much you find to see and to share with us in Hong Kong! I never realised the extent of it until I started reading your blog posts :) Loads to enjoy in this one - the temples, the market but perhaps especially that park with the egrets, beautiful flowers and ingenious lookout tower!

by ToonSarah

I love the markets,lanterns and egrets.---Anyway i thought you only ran for a bus. ! HaHa

by alectrevor

Fun day out. I loved the bridges. They looked so traditional. The flowers were beautiful. It's so much fu to follow you on your walks.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sarah, yes I certainly don't seem to be running out of things to see and do here. I keep finding more and more.

by irenevt

Hi Alec, I think my running days are over until it cools down here or I move to somewhere cool. 33 degrees today, could hardly walk never mind run.

by irenevt

Hi Sally, Tai Po is a sort of Venice of Hong Kong with all its waterways and bridges. I really liked the two fancy bridges, too. Glad you are enjoying my blogs.

by irenevt

I would really struggle with all the different pronounciations if I were to try learn/speak chinese....but it's funny to read about :)

Those egrets in one of the coastal view/Island house photos looks like there are on a conference or a show, one alone further away and all the others looking in his direction :)

Lots of interesting or/and beautiful things on your wandering, this must habe been quite long walk? :)

by hennaonthetrek

I really cannot get my head round Cantonese at all. I can't even hear the differences in the 6 tones let alone repeat them. I sometimes think you need a degree in music to speak the language here. Children here must be born with one.

by irenevt

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login