Yuen Long villages – Nov 2017
Last weekend I joined a cycle group via meetup for a 50km ride around ‘villages not visited before in North-West New Territories.
I was excited, but a little nervous. 50km seemed quite long, but the promise of mosquitoes bites and barking dogs was too much to resist.. as well as the rivers, fish ponds, village farms and cycles through narrow and winding country lanes.
Time it took: Started at 10am, finished at 4:30pm. Many stops and lunch along the way.
Bike Rental Shop: Tin Fung Bicycle Company, Shop B, G/F, Lee Kwan Building, 37 On Lok Road, Yuen Long (come out Exit B of Yuen Long MTR Station – West Rail Line)
Cost: $60/day + $10/day for helmet
Bike Return: Same place
Rental thoughts – Very friendly and efficient. I didn’t have to show any ID, but perhaps because I was in a group and perhaps he knew/had been in contact with the organiser? Would still bring HKID or passport. Bike was in decent condition, gears and brakes worked well.
I turned my Strava on about 5km in..
We met at 9:15am at Ting Fung Bike Company (378 On Lok Road) and I rented a bike for $60 for the full day, plus $10 for a helmet and with another 20 people cycled off to the unknown around Yuen Long. The weather was warm and sunny, (27*C) but slightly cloudy with a bit of a breeze, perfect cycling weather.
After stopping off at a Buddhist Temple and Christian Church we entered more remote landscape past banana plantations and hopped off our bikes to get a personal tour from a local farmer.
The huge excitement of us all in seeing freshly grown food was pretty laughable, but at the same time, it really is wonderful seeing food in the ground, out of plastic, especially as most of us were city folk! I even got a photo with a Chinese Leaf.. my first ever cabbage shot! (Which was eaten later by some of the riders later that night!)
The tour was led by a volunteer guide, Alfred alongside a team of other volunteers that made sure none of us got lost or left behind. We had a few unintentional detours, but with such beautiful scenery, and without the hassle and need for most of us to know or work out where we were going, but have the ability to sit back and enjoy the ride, who cared! We cycled through many villages I cannot name. Some were very developed with many expensive cars parked, and others smaller and seemingly less affluent.
We stopped off at the Tai Tong Organic EcoPark (effectively a big pick your own farm and education centre) before having lunch at a local restaurant for about $40/pp. The scenery, as always in the New Territories was constantly changing, but almost always beautiful. At some points all we could see was green hills, and flowing rivers. So close to bustling chaotic, civilisation, but seemingly so far away.
Towards the end of our cycle we stopped off at Yau Tam Mei where we read a little about the villages history, and the problems it is having at present such as the construction of the Express Rail Link causing huge irreparable damage to the farmland by cutting off water sources. Sadly the issues faced in Yau Tam Mei are not unique with many more traditional ways of life and earning a living being destroyed by the desire for development and profit.
Many of us sampled some food from their local community food market. I tried what I was told was a ‘tea cake’ similar to the ones here (though without filling.) The glutinous dessert was not something I was fond of as a child here, but now something I can’t get enough of.
We were shown the now closed Primary School, the inspiration for the 2015 Hong Kong hit movie, Little Big Master, staring Miriam Yeung. I’ve not seen it but by the time you read this (yes you!) I probably will have…
I can’t tell you how to visit the places we did, as despite putting it on strava. I wouldn’t necessarily advise just cycling around with no idea of where you are going or where you want to go, but in Hong Kong, and cycling around the villages you are almost always going to be within data range, and people are friendly. They may not speak English, but from my experience, people are almost always willing to help. Perhaps look at a map online first, find a few key points of interest or villages on the way, screen shot the Chinese location… and off you go..
But, if you don’t fancy planning your own trip off the beaten track… I’d definitely suggest joining meet up and coming along with us next time!