Pok Fu Lam Village

Aberdeen & South Hong Kong Island

Built on a sloping hillside, peaceful Pok Fu Lam Village looks like a shanty town compared to the high-density middle-class residences around it. Though no stunner, it's valued by historians not only for the famous fire dragon dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival, but equally for its ties to Hong Kong's dairy industry. Other highlights include Béthanie and Li Ling Pagoda.

As the sites are scattered, the best way to see them all is to join a walking tour. Four-hour English tours are available upon request for about HK$700 per person. Email or call two weeks ahead to book.

It was in Pok Fu Lam in 1886 that Dairy Farm (牛奶公司), Hong Kong's first dairy and the parent company of Wellcome supermarket, was set up to provide the city with fresh milk. Offering employment to residents of the village, many of its physical structures, including dormitories and cow sheds, are still visible. The Dairy Farm main office building stands at the entrance of the VTC Pokfulam Complex where T Hotel is, and the cow sheds can be found on the Béthanie compound. Further afield are the Dairy Farm Senior Staff Quarters (牛奶公司大班宿舍), which are currently being restored.

About 10 minutes' walk from Bethanie, past a refuse collection point, there is a sign and steps leading to the Temple of the God of the Underworld (西國大王廟). In its heyday, Dairy Farm recruited Hoklo, boat-dwellers originally from Fujian or Chiu Chow, from Aberdeen Harbour to work in its facilities. They first lived in Pok Fu Lam Village but conflicts broke out with the villagers, and they were resettled in a village near this temple. Hence it's known as Temple of the Hoklo (鶴佬, literally, 'men of Hokkien – Fujian') and it's here that the fire dragon makes its third stop during its annual dance.

On the hillside behind Pok Fu Lam Village, the Workers' Dormitories (牛奶公司工人宿舍), two eight-storey yellow blocks, are visible from afar. Further up the hillside is an overgrown silo (牛奶公司草蘆) for cow fodder. More relics, including manure pits and paddocks, are strewn in a valley off the residential blocks of Chi Fu Fa Yuen (置富花園), harking back to a time when cattle grazed here and the French missionaries of Béthanie rode on horseback.

The four-hour English tour, available upon request, covers the Peak, Pok Fu Lam Village, Béthanie, and the historic Douglas Castle (aka University Hall at the University of Hong Kong). Like Bethanie, Douglas Castle belonged to the French Mission at one time. It operated as a monastery and later became one of Asia's busiest bible printing and translation facilities. The tour starts at 8am and includes a snack break and a Peak Tram ride. Cantonese tours are offered through the Facebook page www.facebook.com/PokfulamVillage.org.

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