Land Between Tour Hong Kong

I must admit that I’m, not really one for taking tours when I travel as I usually prefer to stumble around a new destination making my own discoveries.  On one of my trips to Hong Kong I was offered the opportunity to participate in the Land Between Tour, which tours Hong Kong’s New Territories.

For those who haven’t been to Hong Kong, it is comprised of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories (ok, Hong Kong also has outlying islands, Lantau Island etc. etc. as well).  The New Territories makes up most of the land area in Hong Kong, and is situated between Kowloon and the border with China.  The Land Between Tour takes its passengers through the New Territories, and I found it to be a very interesting and informative tour.

Hong Kong is a very mountainous place, and one of the first things that I noticed as we left Kowloon is that the majority of the population lives in a very narrow strip of land that hugs the coastline, once you start to enter the hilly areas, the number of dwellings diminishes quite rapidly.

One of the first stops on the tour is a visit to the Yuen Yuen Institute, a series of temples which represent Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist beliefs.  You have time to wander around the institute, and the worshippers don’t seem to mind your intrusion as they make offerings to their ancestors.

Following the temple, we headed to the peak of Tai Mo Shan, which is the highest point in Hong Kong.  I went mid-week, so it was relatively empty, but, apparently, Tai Mo Shan gets very busy on weekends when the locals arrive to picnic there and huge traffic jams clog the narrow roads.  I was lucky, as the day I visited was exceptionally clear and I could see right across the Pearl River Delta to Macau and into China.  Heading down the other side of the mountain you enter a rural area, with no high rises in sight.   From here you can also see Hong Kong’s second airport, Shek Kong Airport, which is used by the Air Force of the People’s Republic of China, and which was once a detention centre for Vietnamese refugees.

The tour then follows Shek Kong and Lam Chuen valleys to the rural market at Luen Cho.  Luen Cho has a wet market, meaning that there are many animal products on sale.  There are lots of fresh and dried seafood as well as meats of different types.  I found it very interesting to wander around the various stalls, which also includes vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other foodstuffs.  It can be a bit of a culture shock for those who haven’t been to a typically Asian wet food market, particularly as much of the seafood is kept alive in small tubs to retain its freshness.

The tour also visits a traditional Hakka village, the Hakka being a minority group who still wear traditional clothes and live in a traditional way.  This village seems to be mainly people by elderly people, but, of course, that may be because the younger generations were away at work.

We also visited a small fishing village, where the locals breed fish in underwater cages, and returned to Hong Kong following the shore via Tai Po and Sha Tin, for a scenic and interesting drive.

The Land Between Tour takes about six hours to complete, and it does show you a very different, and mostly rural, aspect of Hong Kong that I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.

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