One of the best things about Hong Kong, in my opinion, is that in spite of the constant construction and shiny new buildings, there’s still plenty of the old around, even if you do have to look for it. Of course, the politics of these villages and the state they’re left in is a different issue altogether. One great example of abandoned HK is the village of Kuk Po.
Kuk Po (pronounced Guk Bo) is a 25-minute minibus ride and 40-minute walk from the nearest train station. It’s not quite abandoned, with a few residents still living there, but their houses sharing walls with still-furnished ones are crumbling to the ground. There’s also a large abandoned school, and it’s easy enough to climb over the fence and walk in. Cows hog the paved path, but other visitors I saw didn’t have a problem shoving through them.
The walk from the minibus to the village is all paved, and pretty easy. For a portion of it, you’ll be walking next to the sea. The first part is mostly shaded, and there are picnic tables on the grass (truly a rare sight in HK!) if you want to chill out. However, the rest of the day will be under the sun. I went on the hottest and sunniest day of the year so far here, and it was punishing. Bring plenty of water, no matter what the weather forecast is. The paths are well-marked, and once you get to the village, you can wander as you wish. Some houses are boarded up, others are wide open, and they’re all fascinating. I’d also recommend staying on the path just in case there are snakes. Seeing the village took me about 40 minutes because I tried to get or peer into every house and took photos of everything.
Keep walking past the village, and you’ll end up at a restaurant that serves freshly caught seafood (it’s usually only open on Sundays). From here, you can look across the water and see Sha Tau Kok, an area of Hong Kong that requires a special permit as it’s right on the border, and next to it, Shenzen, China. Keep walking down the path, and you can see Ap Chau. (You don’t need a special permit or visa to visit Kuk Po.) Much like Ap Chau, most residents left in the 1960s and 70s for better, more industrialized jobs or to take advantage of the full UK citizenship that was on offer.
From the restaurant, you can also turn back, walking along the water. When you get back to the minibus stop, hang out in Chan Fung Kee restaurant for the aircon, and stay for the wide range of Western and Chinese food. When I arrived, the waiter took one look at my red face and pressed a beer stein straight from the freezer against my arm, so I give this place five stars for service. Their menus are in Chinese and English.
I can’t stress enough that seeing the “other side” of Hong Kong is just, if not more, important as checking out all the skyscrapers and climbing The Peak. It’s a wonderful journey into the recent and faraway past that visitors rarely see. You might get stared at for being a foreigner so far out of the normal tourist element, but most people were exceedingly friendly. This day trip is easy, safe and really fun.
Getting to Kuk Po
Go to Fanling KCR Station and take Exit C. Take minibus 56K to the last stop, Luk Keng. The minibus will take between 25 and 40 minutes depending on traffic, and it leaves every half hour. At Luk Keng, follow the Fung Hang Family Walk to Kuk Po. The walk is about 1.3 miles total. When leaving Kuk Po, get to the minibus stop early, as it fills up quickly.
How far out of the city have you been in Hong Kong?