Living in the New Territories

We have moved again. Seems that once you move, you don’t want to stop. This time we’ve simply crossed the water from the HK Island side to the other – sort of the Kowloon side but sort of not. Strictly we are in the new Tseung Kwan O metropolis, Sai Kung District, the New Territories. Tseung Kwan O, by the way is Junk Bay in English. I now know where the word junk came from.

Our new “building”/development  – 17 tower blocks of 50 storeys each with 8 flats per floor  – is so vast that it makes the last one (5 tower blocks only) seem like a little close-knit community. It takes 5-10mins to walk from one side to the other. On top of the MTR station is another substantial development, aptly named Metroland, and a vast public housing estate behind.

Before it became Ocean Shores or Wai Geng Wan Boon (which means something about a view of Victoria Harbour – of which there is none at all. Something similar between how HK names its buildings and Donald Trump), our development was the site of the old Rennie’s Mill.  Rennie set up the HK Milling Company making bread and flour along with stalwarts of the old HK – Paul Chater and HM Mody. They live on, with roads named after them etc, but poor Paul Rennie wasn’t so fortunate and ended up drowning himself when the business failed. Apparently just off shore from here!

Its hard to tell exactly where our building is on the photo. A fair bit of the bay in the foreground has been “reclaimed” from the sea and our development I believe is along the headland you can see on the left hand side. Difficult to be sure. It would be nice to be living in a place like the one in the photo but I guess it wouldn’t be great to have to take the road snaking over the mountain to get to work every day.

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The place we actually live in looks like this. Our buildings are behind the tall ones on the right and they are right on top of the MTR station.  I am a bit of a fan of compact high rise development, saving the space for walks into nature etc. So our block with its “reasonable size” apartments about 5 kids playgrounds, 4 swimming pools, gym, tennis courts, reading room etc is not a bad place to live.

We tend to walk to the next MTR station, Tsung Kwan O for restaurants and shops. But last weekend I thought I may walk the other way and then get the MTR too Ikea (as one does universally these days – go to Ikea at least – these days). Here are a couple of views of what the footpath looks like – a plug for high density living!

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Its nothing special really and if I had more time, I think I’d try and get involved in a management plan to bring back more diversity. But still I am not complaining! And one day we will catch the Wilson Trail at the top of the hill and walk all the way too Kowloon Peak which we looked out over from our old apartment.

I enjoy looking out for the little forgotten snippets of an earlier time, when these hillsides were full of squatters and recent immigrants. There are still huts hidden in the hillside and even a temple of beaten red metal, on the final stretch of my walk to Yau Tong MTR, with its oranges, incense and collection of gods inside. I didn’t manage to snap the temple but here is what must have been a temporary home for one or more families.

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The other aspect of New Territories living is cycling! People despise bicycles on the island – an embarrassing memory of one’s past which one doesn’t want to even contemplate. Before the times of the shiny aircon MTR, or before the time of the shiny BMW or even Tesla. But here they love their bikes and the Tseung Kwan O metropolis is fully cyclable. So we have had a lovely day exploring the rather amorphous metropolis –cycling along the shore, and pushing up our bikes uphill and then freewheeling downhill to Silverstrand Beach.

There is lots that could make this place really great (again) – its in the middle of nature but still so removed. I have found a perfect little beach for Tseung Kwan O swimmers, though I suspect it will soon disappear to a road or a tunnel. I am trying to get in touch with my district councillor and become one of those difficult, demanding residents. Lets see if one can get things done that way!

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