We started from the LoWu prison for women, on Ho Sheung Heung Road. I really didn’t know that there is such a prison. Apparently, it holds 1,400 inmates. And it was opened only in 2010. Does that mean Hong Kong is putting more people behind bars?
Soon we walked through a formerly-fortified fence; now the gate has been removed even though the fence remains. For a long time, particularly in the 60s and 70s, this area was heavily patrolled, to prevent mainlanders from entering Hong Kong illegally. Now they are less desperately poor, and less intensely oppressed over there. Hence people smuggling is not as bad. Hence a large part of the border area has been opened.
At one point we could see the LoWu border crossing building on the Shenzhen side, even though we stayed on the Hong Kong side. Hundreds of thousands of people cross the border easily each day. Back in the 60s and 70s, who would have thought that this would happen? When I went to mainland China for the first time in 1978, China was starting to open, but it was still a bit of a nerve-wrecking experience.
We could also see the huge water pipes bringing the water from the Dong River (東江) to Hong Kong. We could not build enough reservoirs to collect enough water in Hong Kong. Hence we have been purchasing water from Dong River since the 1960s. The pipes are as big in diameter as a man is tall. Actually, they do not look all that big, considering that more than half of the water that the 7 million of us drink and clean with come through these pipes. We could also see the MTR trains running towards LoWu in parallel to the water pipes.
All along the border, Shenzhen is evidently all built up. On the Hong Kong side, however, it is all fields and fish ponds. Based on what we saw along the border, it is easy to conclude that mainland China is a highly developed place, while Hong Kong is a sleepy backwaters. Partial pictures can be mightily deceptive.