Hong Kong: The Village

Category: By panda_eyed
Come 20th December, I will be 80,000 ft in the air, on my way to sunny, warm, bustling Hong Kong, yayyy!

When I was younger, we would do this trip every Christmas to visit my grandparents and other relatives and friends. We always stayed at my maternal granparents' house, in the small, idyllic village of Sheung Wo Hang near the borders of China. Words can't describe how beautiful it is, and what fond memories it holds for me. Pictures don't do it justice, but nevertheless, I shall try and paint you a picture.

The village lies in a low valley between several green mountains. When I'm there, in the mornings, I get up before sunrise so that I can sit outside in the morning dew and wait for the sun wake up, orange and pink, between the mountains. This time of morning is my favourite - the air is pure and clean, you can still hear crickets and all manner of birdsong, but it is peaceful and tranquil - the perfect place for reflection. Then the sun rises higher in the sky, and I can feel it's gentle touch warming my skin and the air around me - bliss. Hong Kong in winter is rather like early summer in Britain, and I love it.

In the afternoons, if we don't already have plans (in HK, this usually means two things - shopping or eating), me and my sister will go down to the village stream - occasionally there will be wrinkly old women washing clothes or vegetables in the water. The water here is clear and clean, having been filtered by the mountains as it runs down. The river is flanked by reeds, bamboo and trees, and prettily coloured dragon flies buzz around. We've spent many a happy afternoon playing here, paddling our feet in the water, catching crabs, shrimps, frogs, and feeding the little fish with breadcrumbs. It is a delicious way to pass the time.

When we tire of the stream, we go walkies in the village. Everyone in the village has a dog - they run free and are curious things. Small wild cats lounge in the sun, but if you get too close, they'll dart away. I love walking the path that follows the stream. You have to cover up here, for fear of being bitten by vicious mosquitoes, but it is worth it. Big purple and white flowers grow where there is water, the bugs hidden amongst the green urge you to admire their singing, and occasionally you'll see things growing that you never do back home - the odd banana, guava, papaya, starfruit and even chow-chows and lychees. I've always been a city girl, but this is my respite.

In the middle of the village are some odd-looking trees that have been here for centuries. They are strange in that they have gnarly, root-like strands growing from their branches - these grow down to the ground, and when they touch the soil, they lignify and eventually thicken to become branches in their own right. This gives it a waterfall-like effect. Behind these trees is a hidden path which leads to another part of the river - the water is deeper here - my mum, aunties and uncles used to come swimming here when they were younger. Beware of snakes though!

The old village school still stands - a very basic building, where all the children, my relatives included, went to school. It's now a museum, and tourists come to see it, and our village. I love that the village has so much history. I love knowing that my mum grew up here and seeing all the places she used to spend time in. I love knowing that this is the birthplace of my ancestors, that everyone here knows everybody else, and are descended from two brothers who settled here from China centuries back.

I love this place to pieces, and one day, I would love to bring my children here and show them where their grandma and great-grandparents grew up. I'd like to expose them to Chinese culture as much as possible, especially growing up abroad, with so many other cultural influences jostling for room. The problem is - I may not get to come here this year, or the next. My aunties and uncles want to put my grandmother into a nursing home, and if so, there will be no cause to come here - to what will be an empty, dusty house that's such a commute to the city. Without my grandma here, it just won't be the same.

Although putting my grandmother in a home makes me very sad, it is a whole other post, and I won't talk about it now. There are so many memories here. Hong Kong, the city, isn't enough to keep me wanting to come back year after year. The village is what I long for when I think of HK - of sunny, lazy days - not the shopping, not even the great food holds much appeal when this setting is missing. I feel like you do when you finish a good book. This chapter in my life has finally come to an end.

15 comments so far.

  1. Flighty 3:18 pm, November 17, 2006
    80,000ft! I hope not. Nearer 35,000ft you'll find. Sorry to nit-pick.
    What a wonderful way to spend Christmas. You must be really looking forward to it.
    I've never been to Hong Kong but everyone I know who has really enjoyed it.
    Have a good weekend.
  2. panda_eyed 3:29 pm, November 17, 2006
    Lol, sorry Flighty, I should have known. Who could breathe at 80,000ft? It would be physiologically impossible! Lol, I'll do some research in future!

    I am looking forward to christmas very much, and hoping that my gran will still be in her home for one more christmas at least. She loves her home..

    Hope you have a good weekend too! x
  3. nikkipolani 7:42 pm, November 17, 2006
    I did wonder when I read about 80,000 ft. And I thought, Hmmm, I guess those transcontinental flights go higher... That tree you linked to, it's in Hawaii as well - Banyan trees have a scary/interesting look to them. Loved your word pictures of the idyllic place you'll soon see. Do take/post pics though and take pics of interesting food too! (nevermind YM!)
  4. Olivia 9:33 pm, November 18, 2006
    LOL Flighty should know!

    There is something significant about 80,000 ft, though, and i can't remember what it is...

    The pics were great and I look forward to hearing about it afterwards.

    I am on my new laptop and keep misjudging the new bigger keyboard.

    Interesting to hear that the fruits that grow in HK also grow across the ocean in my mother's homeland Guyana. Maybe exported by tthe Chinese immigrants there...
  5. Jia Li 1:54 am, November 19, 2006
    nice post pandy
  6. Ames 12:06 pm, November 20, 2006
    Aww can I come too! It sounds so beautiful! Am sure you'll still have reason to visit even if your Grandmother does go into a home..you conveyed all your memories of it so richly and beautifully that I'm positive you'd be able to do an even better job when you're over there with your children :o)
  7. panda_eyed 2:10 pm, November 20, 2006
    Hey Nikki, thanks for the name of that tree! I can finally put a name to it now, instead of having to describe it everytime, lol. It's one of my favourites.
    I will indeed take lots of pics! If this is one of the last years this house will be in the family, then I'll sure make the most of it. I think I'd feel a bit shy about getting my camera out at a table, but I'll try and get over that :) Lol, @ the YM remark :)

    Livvy, ooh a shiny new 'puter :) Lucky thing.
    I love the things you find growing in HK - so unexpected, and so fascinating because the closest I've come is seeing them in supermarkets, so being able to pick and touch and smell is awesome. Mmm I have a sudden craving for guava..

    Hey Jia, thanks sweetie. How you? Not studying too hard I hope!

    Ames, ya, you can sneak in my luggage :)
    Aww thanks sugarlump, you're so lovely! Now let's find me a man.. hehe
  8. Ames 3:05 pm, November 20, 2006
    Heehee..I'm sure they won't mind the luggage being several kgs over!!

    Yes when you find that man, make sure he has a brother (for me!) Although we have had a few new students starting one of which is a major cutie AND very tall!
  9. Jia Li 7:23 pm, November 20, 2006
    me sick, I blame it on drive thru...I work at a coffe shop...it has a drive through very odd weather here, last week snow, this week 20 degress...my asthma no like this
  10. panda_eyed 9:06 pm, November 20, 2006
    Ames, ooh, does he have a brother? Hehe.. We like tall!

    Jia, again?? Poor thing.. you better have been taking your vitamins! Get well soon x
  11. Ames 9:36 pm, November 20, 2006
    Heehee..I shal endeavour to find out all such details!lol.

    Some of our foreign students are the cutest..one of them called Christian (a name I love) was absolutely stunning..didn't have a good grasp of english but he was SO pretty!Not that I just perv over our fit student..of course I don't!! ;)
  12. panda_eyed 9:57 pm, November 20, 2006
    Ooh, was he french? Did he pronounce it the French way? :) Of course you don't perv, you got too much work to be getting on with..

  13. Olivia 10:19 pm, November 20, 2006
    Girls, although it is a pleasant past-time, you're not going to get anywhere drooling over students!

    We need to find real men now!
  14. Jia Li 11:55 pm, November 20, 2006
    mmmm, good idea vit c tablets...will start taking
  15. Ames 8:57 am, November 21, 2006
    I don't think he was french..he had a strange surname but it didn't sound french..it may have been. And yes I am terribly busy so no, no time at all for drooling!

    Liv's! You spoil all our fun ;) We need to go to Chelsea to find these men!x

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