We rose early to visit the Duy Phu village at My Son Valley. My Son, in Vietnamese, means “beautiful mountain.” In this part of Vietnam, the celebrated ancient culture is that of the Champa people. Now considered an ethnic minority (one of the 55), the …
Between the 2nd to the 10th centuries, Hoi An was a bustling seaport of the Champa Kingdom. Both My Son and Hoi An within its bounds, the Quang Nam province once belonged to the Champa King. A dispute arose between the Champa kingdom and Vietnam …
The people of Hoi An celebrate the full moon every month. Perhaps that was how they kept the tourists engaged. But on this traditional once-a-year Mid-Autumn Festival, the celebratory activities were much more elaborate. We intended to have a walk in Hoi An that evening …
The North District Park is a horticultural innovation waiting to be discovered. Located between Sheung Shui and Fanling, the park has its northern end at the So Kwun Po village and stretches southward to the Fanling Wai Village. Carefully manicured gardens, beautiful pavilions, covered walkways and a lake in the park create an ecosystem of its own, properly blending human footprints within a designed natural environ.
Although the park is not large, it gives visitors ample recreational space. I saw many people there doing walks and tai-chi, resting in the pavilions and some even brought their bird cages. Workers were also busy with mowing, pruning and maintenance all over the park. Clearly, this is a much-treasured space.
According to the introduction by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the park opened in 1990. It is intended to be as much a cultural space as it is a man-made haven for wildlife. In the park there is an amphitheater for holding cultural events. Fragrant plants line the twin pavilion. It is a thoughtful, pleasing detail.
An Ecological System of Its Own
The conservation area aims to provide a sanctuary for wild birds, butterflies and dragonflies. The plants are carefully chosen to include native flowers and fruit trees so that the area is itself an ecological haven. Chemical use is also reduced to the very minimum in this area. It is clear that the purpose is well-accomplished. I did see large birds resting over the park’s waters, and also many butterflies along my way.
A Community Initiative
On the southern end, there is a community garden, where people nurse edible plants. I find this feature to be unusual for Hong Kong. Clearly, this is a government space, and the active involvement of the people in sharing this space, other than for recreation, is quite uncommon. The community initiative is commendable.
A leisurely walk in the park takes about one hour, but after the first visit I already plan on spending lazy afternoons there with a book.
A Quick Detour to the Heritage of Fanling Wai
At the park’s southern gate lies the Fanling Wai village. There are three cannons that witness the village’s history since its pre-colonial days. In 1669, during the early reign of Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the villagers built gun towers and cannons as defenses against bandits in the area. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong beginning in 1941, the villagers feared that these defensive structures would cause danger to the village. They therefore removed these three cannons and buried them under the gun tower. When during the 1980s the villagers rebuilt the gun towers, they found these cannons. The cannons now stand as the spiritual defense of the village’s fortunes.