Saturday, December 18, 2010

The simple life

Looking at Mui Wo now, it's hard to believe that just a couple of decades ago, it was a thriving farming community. Today, if you walk on some of the overgrown paths, you can still see footprints of old vegetable gardens, fish farms and rice fields.

Old-timers tell me the flat and muddy plot of land just outside Luk Tei Tong used to be vast paddy fields. And, just behind the municipal buildings and the Chung Hau watchtower, the acres of wastelands and ponds used to be fish, sugar cane and vegetable farms and paddy fields that could feed the 200-odd members of the Yuen clan (with some left over to sell to the other villagers).

The descendants of some of the cultivated plants still exist. In our walks, we often come across wild banana trees, some still bearing fruits. Often, we also see abandoned homes that, though highly inconvenient to our modern lifestyle, would have been ideal for sustenance – close to clear streams, with patches of sunlight and shade, and on fertile ground.

We dream of one day being able to buy one of these abandoned farm houses and restore some of the gardens. But the land laws on Lantau being what they are, I think the powers-that-be will prefer to let the houses fall into ruin than into the hands of strangers.

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