Wu Kai Sha: a suburb of contrasts

During my time in Hong Kong, I spent two weeks staying in Ma On Shan, a new town located on reclaimed land by the shores of Tolo Harbour, in the central part of the New Territories. My aunt and uncle’s apartment was 30-odd storeys up in the air, in a building that was 40 storeys high – in other words, a pretty typical home in a Hong Kong suburb.

However, a short walk from the busy urban area is the beach front village of Wu Kai Sha: which presents a complete contrast to what the average tourist expects.

Windsurfer sets off from the beach at Wu Kai Sha

Unfortunately the sand only covers a small part of the beach, the rest of it being shell grit and rocks, but that doesn’t seem to stop the locals from enjoying it.

Children walk along the rocky beach at Wu Kai Sha

Swimming is another attraction, I saw a number of people in the water off the pier on a 20 degree winter’s day.

Wu Kai Sha public pier

Although the water is being much cleaner than the Kowloon side of the city, rubbish still washes up on the shore. I came across this pile of old shopping trolleys concreted down to the shoreline: all it seems to do was collect more rubbish.

Pile of old shopping trolleys concreted down on the shoreline

The village is a popular location on weekends, with a number of cafes and barbecue restaurants located right on the beach. Dragon boat teams use the sheltered bay as a training location.

Dragon boat practice at Wu Kai Sha, the original village in the background

A boat hire business operates from a small home built jetty: at $100 HKD an hour for a rowboat it would be a relatively pricey way to spend your weekend.

Hire boats at anchor at Wu Kai Sha

Perhaps we just got ripped off because we weren’t locals?

Boat hire at Wu Kai Sha, a father and son head off in a rowboat

So far, Wu Kai Sha seems like an idyllic waterfront paradise, at least if you only cast your eye out onto the water. Once you turn around, modern Hong Kong will jump out at you, with Ma On Shan New Town a short distance to the south.

Looking back to the New Town of Ma On Shan: everything built on reclaimed land

Looking in the other direction are the new developments of Wu Kai Sha, located at the foot of Ma On Shan, the mountain that gave the new town its name. The tower blocks are between 25 to 40 storeys high, with each estate consisting of a half-dozen or so identical towers, perched above a podium of shops and car parking.

Looking over the bay towards the village, the new developments of Wu Kai Sha in the background, then Ma On Shan (the mountain, not the town)

Among those tower blocks is Wu Kai Sha station, terminus of the Ma On Shan Line on the MTR, with a train running every 2 minutes during peak times.

SP1900 EMU arrives at Wu Kai Sha station, terminus of the Ma On Shan line

It is hard to believe that the peaceful scene seen earlier is less than 10 minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of modern Hong Kong.

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3 Responses to Wu Kai Sha: a suburb of contrasts

  1. Pingback: MTR: Ma On Shan Line | Checkerboard Hill

  2. William says:

    Beautiful photos.

    The Hong Kong Government has announced at the beginning of 2012 for plans to reclaim and fill the beach area. If done the beach will vanish. Please help to protect this beautiful natural beach. Otherwise it will be gone for ever.

    • Marcus says:

      Thanks for the tipoff William – I’ve found some more detail of Hong Kong’s current land reclamation proposals at the Enhancing Land Supply Strategy study. (here is the PDF file)

      To summarise, the Wu Kai Sha proposal is for something between 30 and 99 hectares of “Reclamation upon Natural but Not Protected Shoreline”. Located next to the Wu Kai Sha Youth Village in waters around 4 metres deep, the site is close to existing residential developments and road networks, as well as site of archaeological interest.

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