Saturday, March 23, 2013

What is left of Nga Chin Wai (衙前圍村)?

Nga Chin Wai 衙前圍 was a 600 years old walled village. In fact, the only one in the urban areas of Hong Kong (Kowloon).  The name literally means “walled village in front of the magistrate’s office”.  It stood in front of the Kowloon Walled City 九龍寨城, or 九龍城寨.

The Walled City was, of course, obliterated completely many years ago. When I went to 衙前圍 several years ago, however, there were still quite a number of houses there, even though they were quite rundown.  Some people were living there.

When I went there again last Saturday, the place was all boarded up, and a severe-looking Sikh guarded the place.  When I peeked inside, I found that all the houses had been torn down, except one miserable looking row of perhaps 5 houses.

The board outside said: “revitalization of historical buildings”.  I guess one can argue that saving one row of houses is better than tearing down all of them.  It is still mightily sad to see another historical village biting the dust.


YTSL said...

A friend of mine told me about Nga Chin Wai some years back but I never did go visit. One reason is that I had been to a few walled villages in the New Territories where felt like I was intruding on the residents' privacy -- and at least one where conditions weren't great, and my visiting felt too much like "slum tourism".

While it is indeed sad to see another historical village biting the dust, I also am hoping that living conditions for the village's residents will now be improved. And hopefully, what will be erected on the site of the old village will be of use to regular people -- i.e., not luxury apartments that most people can not afford.

StephenC said...

They are keeping one row of houses to preserve a bit of history. Usually some of the people get re-settled. Not everyone does, however.