A Travellerspoint blog

Emperors and Sweet Potatoes.

A look at Sung Wong Toi and To Kwa Wan.

storm

Hoi Sham Rock and Fishtail Rock.

Hoi Sham Rock and Fishtail Rock.

The weather here recently has been pretty awful. Every day there has been almost non-stop heavy rain and thunder storms. We managed to go for a swim on Monday, just before a storm started. It was Peter's first swim since last November. We should have gone again on Tuesday, but I didn't feel well. On Wednesday there was a red rain storm with torrential rain and an extremely violent thunderstorm which went on for hours. Every window in our flat was shaking due to the violence of it. We even had to cancel dinner plans with a friend. It just was not safe to go outside. Thursday rained on and off all day. I made it as far as the shops and got soaked. By Friday I was going stir crazy. I had to get out. The forecast said rain and thunderstorms yet again. I decided instead of letting that make me stay in, I would just go somewhere urban where there would be shelter if the weather got really bad, so I took the train to Sung Wong Toi to have a look around there and nearby To Kwa Wan.

Sung Wong Toi and To Kwa Wan are both in Kowloon City, which is the area near the former Kai Tak Airport. Kai Tak was right in the heart of the city and was famous for take offs and landings that came incredibly close to people's homes. When this airport was in use, there were restrictions about how tall nearby buildings could be, so Kowloon City was always more low-rise than the rest of Hong Kong. Nowadays, though, a lot of this area is being demolished and rebuilt, so around Sung Wong Toi in particular, there was an awful lot of construction going on.

At one time it used to be a bit awkward to get to Kowloon City, but now there are several new MTR stations here, so getting here is very easy. Building the MTR stations in both Sung Wong Toi and To Kwa Wan caused a lot of problems, because this area has a rich history and the construction workers kept digging up important archaeological remains. There are two exhibits inside Sung Wong Toi Station where you can learn about these remains and also see some of them.

Incense Burners.

Incense Burners.

Ink Pots, Oil Lamps and Opium Pots

Ink Pots, Oil Lamps and Opium Pots

Incense burner legs carved with monster faces.

Incense burner legs carved with monster faces.

Fragments of bowls.

Fragments of bowls.

Vases, plates, ewers.

Vases, plates, ewers.

Fragments of bowls.

Fragments of bowls.

Coins.

Coins.

Sung Wong Toi means - The Terrace of the Sung Emperors. In the late thirteenth century, the Southern Sung dynasty was under attack by the Northern Yuan Dynasty. Eventually only two children: Zhao Shi and Zhao Bing remained as heirs of the Sung Imperial Family. They were forced to flee further and further south. From 1277 to 1279 the fleeing boy emperors took refuge at Sacred Hill in what is now Hong Kong. Zhao Shi became seriously ill here and died. This left only Zhao Bing. Unfortunately for him, his armies were defeated by the Yuans at the Battle of Yamen. After the defeat Lu Xiufu, a Sung loyalist who had been helping the boy emperors escape, placed Zhao Bing on his shoulders and leapt of a cliff so that the Yuans could not take the young emperor alive.

Sacred Hill once had a massive forty-five metre high boulder on top of it. In 1279, local residents wishing to commemorate the last of the Sung Emperors inscribed the three characters which spell out Sung Wong Toi on this boulder. In 1807, seven smaller characters were added on the right side of the stone to record renovation work carried out on the boulder during the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor. The hill and boulder were both considered to be sacred relics and were protected by a special ordinance in 1899. In 1915 steps up to the inscription were built and a balustrade was placed around the boulder to protect it.

The Inscribed Boulder at the top of Sacred Hill.

The Inscribed Boulder at the top of Sacred Hill.

However, during the Second World War, under the Japanese, Sacred Hill was levelled and the boulder was blown up to create smaller rocks with which to extend Kai Tak Airport.

The remains of the boulder after it had been blasted apart.

The remains of the boulder after it had been blasted apart.

After the war the part of the boulder with the three character Inspiration was found intact. It was shaped into a rectangular block and placed in a park constructed especially for it at the junction of Sung Wong Toi Road and Ma Tau Chung Road where it remains to this day.

An old photo of the park created for the boulder.

An old photo of the park created for the boulder.

The boulder today.

The boulder today.

The boulder today.

The boulder today.

Information about the boulder.

Information about the boulder.

When I exited the park, I was pleased to see a pink tourist sign indicating the direction of the Cattle Depot Artists Village in To Kwa Wan. This was to be my next sight. On route there I passed many low level colourful houses and market stalls overflowing with goods.

Colourful low houses in To Kwa Wan.

Colourful low houses in To Kwa Wan.

Durians.

Durians.

To Kwa Wan means Potato Bay. It is named after the sweet potatoes that were once grown here by local Hakka people. Nowadays it is a very working class area with a strong sense of community, but its future hangs in the balance, as the government wish to totally redevelop it.

Colourful Buildings on To Kwa Wan's Main Street.

Colourful Buildings on To Kwa Wan's Main Street.

Recreation Centre, To Kwa Wan.

Recreation Centre, To Kwa Wan.

To Kwa Wan has a couple of interesting sights including the Cattle Depot Artists Village which was once home to Ma Tau Kok Animal Quarantine Depot, a pre-war cattle slaughterhouse. This was built in 1908 and continued as a slaughter house until 1999 when it was closed down, as the area around it had become more and more built up and residential and having a slaughterhouse in the middle of it was not very hygienic. In 2001 the old red brick buildings which made up the front part of the site were renovated and converted into an artists' village. This village sometimes stages exhibitions, workshops and other events. The rear part of the village was made into an Art Park in 2019.

There weren't any exhibitions on when I explored the artists' village. Nonetheless, I found many highly photogenic things to look at and photograph, not least of which was a very cute, possibly very pregnant cat. Other interesting things were a selection of colourful plant pots, junk turned into art, lots of flowers and plants and the buildings themselves.

Looking at the Cattle Depot Artists' Village from the outside.

Looking at the Cattle Depot Artists' Village from the outside.

The buildings around the entrance to the village and old feeding troughs.

The buildings around the entrance to the village and old feeding troughs.

Cattle Depot Buildings with signs of industry in the background. Plus some of the high-rise that have been built since Kai Tak closed.

Cattle Depot Buildings with signs of industry in the background. Plus some of the high-rise that have been built since Kai Tak closed.

Long narrow feeding troughs still line the bottoms of the walls.

Long narrow feeding troughs still line the bottoms of the walls.

Old redbrick buildings.

Old redbrick buildings.

Old wooden doors.

Old wooden doors.

Wooden window frames.

Wooden window frames.

Strange creatures guard the exit of the buildings.

Strange creatures guard the exit of the buildings.

An interesting doorway.

An interesting doorway.

Rubbish to Art.

Rubbish to Art.

Rubbish to Art.

Rubbish to Art.

Rubbish to Art.

Rubbish to Art.

Bits and bobs among the foliage.

Bits and bobs among the foliage.

Art boat.

Art boat.

Old and new.

Old and new.

Colourful plant pots.

Colourful plant pots.

Colourful plant pots.

Colourful plant pots.

Colourful plant pots.

Colourful plant pots.

An arrangement of plant pots.

An arrangement of plant pots.

Beautiful flowers, unusual plant pot.

Beautiful flowers, unusual plant pot.

Beautiful plants.

Beautiful plants.

Chinese Wisteria.

Chinese Wisteria.

Flowering Bonsai.

Flowering Bonsai.

Arum Lilies.

Arum Lilies.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Hidden fairy.

Hidden fairy.

Hiding Snail and Worm.

Hiding Snail and Worm.

Cute cat.

Cute cat.

Cute cat.

Cute cat.

I could see the Art Park next to the Artists' Village through a locked gate and was annoyed that it was shut. However, I was wrong; I just had to access it through a side entrance. I assume this was because you need to use your leave home safe app to enter the Artists' Village but not the Art Park.

The Art Park occupies the rear portion of the former slaughterhouse. The architects here wanted to provide a green space for people to enjoy, while also maintaining several historical features: such as feeding troughs and the metal rings the animals were tied to next to these. The roofs of the cattle sheds used to be supported by red brick columns. These have also been retained and some have been kept in the tilted or collapsed state they were found in, for artistic effect. There are also several 3-d models of cows and pigs made from metal plates. In many areas trees which had overgrown the disused site have also been maintained.

Artwork outside the Art Park.

Artwork outside the Art Park.

Artwork outside the Art Park.

Artwork outside the Art Park.

Artwork outside the Art Park.

Artwork outside the Art Park.

Restored red brick columns that once supported the roof.

Restored red brick columns that once supported the roof.

Some columns have been kept tilting or where they had fallen.

Some columns have been kept tilting or where they had fallen.

Some trees have been kept as part of the restoration.

Some trees have been kept as part of the restoration.

Cow sheds.

Cow sheds.

Model of a cow.

Model of a cow.

Model of a cow.

Model of a cow.

Model of a cow.

Model of a cow.

Feeding troughs and hooks.

Feeding troughs and hooks.

Where the pigs were kept.

Where the pigs were kept.

Where the pigs were kept.

Where the pigs were kept.

Looking back at the Artists' Village from the remnants of an old well.

Looking back at the Artists' Village from the remnants of an old well.

Green spaces to enjoy.

Green spaces to enjoy.

One area is still fenced off and overgrown, not sure if it will be left like this or developed later. I rather liked this. For some reason I like watching the jungle fighting its way back in the middle of a city.

Old overgrown building.

Old overgrown building.

Old overgrown building.

Old overgrown building.

Old overgrown building.

Old overgrown building.

Old overgrown building.

Old overgrown building.

Next, I walked to Hoi Sham Park. At one time this was a separate island, but due to land reclamation it is now part of the Kowloon Peninsula. It was converted into a park in 1972. When it was an island, Hoi Sham was famous for several things. It had two distinctive rocks: Hoi Sham Rock and Fishtail Rock. Hoi Sham Rock brings good luck to those about to be married. Fishtail Rock looks like the tail of a carp emerging from the water and carp are also considered lucky. Both of these rocks have been retained.

Stairs up to Hoi Sham Rock and Fishtail Rock.

Stairs up to Hoi Sham Rock and Fishtail Rock.

Hoi Sham Rock and Fishtail Rock.

Hoi Sham Rock and Fishtail Rock.

Hoi Sham Rock from the other side.

Hoi Sham Rock from the other side.

The island was also well-known for its Lung Mo Temple dedicated to the dragon mother in Chinese mythology. This temple was demolished when the park was built, but the statue of the dragon mother was preserved and taken to the nearby Tin Hau Temple.

In Hoi Sham Park.

In Hoi Sham Park.

Apparently people used to go to Hoi Sham Island to eat seafood. There's no seafood restaurant here now, but there were certainly plenty of people out fishing. There were also lovely views across the harbour despite the bad weather.

Looking out to sea from Hoi Sham Park.

Looking out to sea from Hoi Sham Park.

Looking out to sea from Hoi Sham Park.

Looking out to sea from Hoi Sham Park.

Waterfront, Hoi Sham Park.

Waterfront, Hoi Sham Park.

On the waterfront there is a pretty pink pavilion, popular with fishermen. To get to it you must walk across a lucky zigzag bridge.

Looking towards the pavilion, Hoi Sham Park.

Looking towards the pavilion, Hoi Sham Park.

Pavilion and zigzag bridge.

Pavilion and zigzag bridge.

Fishermen on the pavilion.

Fishermen on the pavilion.

View from the zigzag bridge.

View from the zigzag bridge.

There were models of peacocks, butterflies and pandas scattered around the park.

Pandas in the park.

Pandas in the park.

Peacocks.

Peacocks.

Butterflies.

Butterflies.

When I had finished looking at the park, I went in search of the Tin Hau Temple, which is located at the corner of Ha Heung Road and Lok Shan Road. It was built in 1885. On the left hand side of the temple there is an altar dedicated to Tin Hau, goddess of the sea and protector of fishermen. On the right hand side stands the statue of Lung Mo which was placed here when Hoi Sham Temple was demolished in 1964. I didn't stay here long as it was busy and I constantly seemed to be in everyone's way.

Entrance to the Tin Hau Temple.

Entrance to the Tin Hau Temple.

Temple Doorway.

Temple Doorway.

Tin Hau.

Tin Hau.

The dragon mother.

The dragon mother.

The dragon mother.

The dragon mother.

In the Tin Hau Temple.

In the Tin Hau Temple.

Finally I headed off to Wellcome Supermarket for some shopping then walked to the MTR to go home.

Colourful Buildings outside To Kwa Wan MTR.

Colourful Buildings outside To Kwa Wan MTR.

Posted by irenevt 09:39 Archived in Hong Kong

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Hello, Irene! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and inspiration with us! ~ Keep well~

by Vic_IV

Thank you for visiting, Victor. I have been enjoying reading about your wanderings around Poland. We lived and worked there for half a year. Beautiful country.

by irenevt

I love the fishtail rock. It really looks exactly like a fish tail.

Your storm sounds terrifying. What floor do you live on? I would hate to be on a very high floor during a storm like that. We seldom have storms so they are more unsettling to me than they used to be. A thunderclap or two is a major storm here.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, we live on the tenth floor. Not too high for here.
Our building has nineteen floors. Generally Hong Kong has great weather in autumn and winter and terrible weather in summer. If it ever stops raining and thundering, it will be unbearably hot.

by irenevt

I'm sorry you had so much rain, but your dsy out was productive.

by greatgrandmaR

Hi Rosalie, yes getting out for a while helped put me in a more positive frame of mind. Hope all good with you.

by irenevt

Really interesting history about the fights between the dynasties. The past seems very bloody for Hong Kong. I also loved all the finds - reminds me of when we visited you in Cyprus and the amazing finds there. Thanks for braving the storms to bring us another super blog.

by Catherine

Glad you enjoyed it. I have to brave the storms at the moment or I'd just never go out. Haha.

by irenevt

Thunderstorm sounds like a good excuse to get under a quilt with a good book, hah!
Albeit I can understand that after a while the stircraziness could come visiting..:)

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna, I am spending quite a bit of time reading actually. Mainly because it is so hot. I can do a couple of days out, then I need to spend time in in the cool.

by irenevt

Any good ones?
I am currently reading (still) Stephen Kings Black Tower series, it's good but I find that reading fantasy you need to take some breaks and read something else a while before going back..
Another one I have on going is Down Under-Travels in a Sunburned Country and I am enjoying it a LOT! :)

by hennaonthetrek

I have become addicted to J.D. Kirk. He writes Scottish detective novels. There's lots of humour in them and the characters are brilliant.

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