Student Activities WeekBack
Place-based Learning Programme
18 - 26 Nov 2017
3F Mini Cheung
We went to Tai O, Yim Tin Tsai and Kuk Po during the SAW to learn about the development of different traditional villages in Hong Kong.
The name of Yim Tin Tsai means a "small salt farm" literally. The descendants of the Chen family developed salt farms on the island and made a living by selling the salt. However, as the salt industry declined, so did the population on the island and the salt farms were eventually converted into fish ponds. It was nicknamed “Ghost Island” as it got almost no human habitation. Fortunately, a museum was built there to show the original lifestyle of the village. Its guided tours to the salt-pan attract quite a number of visitors and help to conserve its traditional culture.
Kuk Po used to be a farming village. But due to the lack of public transport, most of the villagers have moved out. It has since become an abandoned village. Poor maintenance of the buildings and temples led to the loss of its cultural heritage. However, some visitors are still attracted to the village for its stunning view and rich history.
Tai O is a quaint and picturesque village which is a more popular tourist attraction compared to the other two. The guided tours and the seafood markets have kept Tai O thriving economically. However, many villagers have moved out from the traditional stilt houses and given up fishing, resulting in a loss of part of its cultural and historical significance.
This programme gave me an insight into the controversial issue of sustainable development in Hong Kong. While it may be impossible to have a perfect development plan, what we can do is to strike a balance between environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects.
3G Erin Wong
Throughout the excursions, we discovered the story behind the once gaily-painted walls that had housed generations of clan members, as well as the interwoven aspects of Hong Kong’s sustainable development.
In Tai O, the local villagers taught us some traditional skills such as fishnet knitting. Although we did not see the endangered pink dolphins, we gained provoking insights into the old Tanka culture in Hong Kong.
In Yim Tin Tsai, we had hands-on experience on sea salt harvesting, and we gobbled up the "cha guo", a traditional Hakka snack filled with ground peanuts, which was unexpectedly delicious.
To most of us, travelling to Kuk Po was a blessing in disguise as we had never been to an abandoned village which was once populated and thriving. A photo album, which was found in one of the dilapidated houses, was flipped open and we felt heavy-hearted at the sight of the families’ snapshots dated decades ago.
Our journeys to different corners of Hong Kong gave us a glimpse into the history of our hometown and its development into a metropolitan city. It enabled us to learn beyond the school textbooks and remind us of our roots in times of uncertainty.
3C Gabrielle Luk
Exploring the nooks and crannies of the ghost village, Kuk Po; learning about the traditional cultures of the people residing in Tai O; going on a trek in Yim Tin Tsai for producing a video on local culture; these activities seemed impossible as some of us had never even heard of these places.
We were all anxious about the expeditions. What was sustainable development, and why was it relevant to us? With no expectations to speak of, we set out on our first day to Tai O. It turned out to be an exciting and eyeopening experience – laying out egg yolks to dry, trying our hand at knitting complicated fishing nets and tasting the local bean porridge were just a few of the thrilling activities.
The next day, we went to Yim Tin Tsai. We got to learn more about the building that we had to film, the history of which was awe-inspiring to say the least. Kuk Po was another fun and informative journey. Walking through the alleys covered with vines and branches, we listened to the compelling stories by the tour guide regarding the ancient lives of the people who once lived in the remote village.
The SAW not only equipped us with the knowledge of sustainable development, but also made us understand how crucial sustainable development is to Hong Kong.
We came to know the reasons why some places are deteriorating, and have become more appreciative of the culture around us.
3A Samuel Yau
As a new student in SPCC, I felt very excited about the SAW and looked forward to going out and doing on-site projects in the lesser-known villages in Hong Kong.
We visited a stilt house and learnt fishing nets knitting from an old fisherman. The stilt house was simple, but the old fisherman was very satisfied. He was so proud of it and he could not stop sharing with us his stories in this village. People who have a satisfying life need not be wealthy. Learning to knit fishing nets was a new and unique experience. At first, I thought it was easy, but it turned out that some complicated details truly took time to master. In the past, I learnt mostly by seeing. From this experience, I know that I also need to learn by doing, and that practice makes perfect.
Yim Tin Tsai is a small island three kilometres away from Sai Kung. There once lived 1200 villagers, but they gradually moved to urban areas, abandoning Yim Tin Tsai. We visited the salt farms, where the villagers used to make salt for a living. Salt-making is a very complicated process. Each tiny grain of salt has embedded the sweat and tears of the people. It certainly takes a lot of effort and patience.
We also visited St Joseph's Chapel, which had been awarded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for its fascinating Romanesque Revival style architecture built over 120 years ago.
There is so much ‘treasure’ in Hong Kong that I have never known before. The SAW programme has not only enriched my learning experience, but has also enhanced my knowledge of our beloved city.