Kat Hing Wai is the very first traditional walled village that I’ve visited. There isn’t any strong man blocking the road nor any fierce dog guarding the village. The walled village is in fact not as scary as I was told!
Kat Hing Wai, occupying an area of 45 acreages, is located nearby Kam Tin Road. Kat Hing Wai, together with Wing Loong Wai, Tai Hong Wai, Nam Wai, Pak Wai and San Wai, are called the “Six Walled Villages of Kam Tin”. It has already been declared as the First Class Historic Architect, which is also a very famous Hakka Walled Village. It is a rectangular walled village, and the copperplate outside the main entrance recorded the history of the Tang Clan.
In the Sung Dynasty, Tang Fu Hip, the ascendant of the Tang Clan already resided there. Later on, Tang Pok King and 2 others built the village during the Ming Dynasty. The 6-feet high blue brick wall was built around the village in the early years of the Kangxi reign of the Qing Dynasty for security reasons. There were openings on the wall for the emplacement of the cannon, and cannon towers were built at the 4 corners of the wall with specific iron gates. Originally, there was a moat surrounding the walled village but it doesn’t exist anymore. There is a Temple in Kat Hing Wai worshiping 15 gods. Though most of the ancient buildings are being rebuilt as villas of modern Spanish style, but when we walk through the streets and lanes inside the village, there still exist traces of historic events for us to explore.
The most famous historic event of Kat Hing Wai involved the iron gates at the entrance of the walled village. After being forced to sign “The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory” in 1898, the British Government took over the New Territories in the next year. Residents of Kam Tin rebelled against this colonial rule and started fighting against the British army, and they made the iron gates, the blue-brick wall and the moat as their final defense. Finally, the British Army won by using the cannon and the iron gates were taken to London for exhibition as the sign of victory. ’Til 1924, Tang Pok Kau urged the return of the iron gates from the British Government and finally, they successfully got it back in the next year and the Hong Kong Governor was responsible for hosting the “Return Ceremony”.
I was told that people living in the walled villages were unfriendly, with lots of fierce people that forbade outsiders to visit. That’s probably the unreal impression I’ve got from misleading rumors! I visited there on a Saturday afternoon in the summer, and I met some children who were still enjoying their summer holiday and elderly people talking happily at the entrance of the village. Actually, I just met a few villagers, maybe most of the young people were still working in urban areas and are yet to come back home. While walking through the lanes in the walled village, I was surrounded by an atmosphere full of peace. The walled village was a small one, but when I finished sightseeing and said goodbye to the Hakka elders at the entrance, all my troubles seemed to be left behind in the walled village.
Take Exit B at Kam Sheung Road Station (West Rail Line) and walk for 15 minutes and you’ll see Kat Hing Wai