Buildings date back at least 650 years

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2003, 12:00am

Some of the buildings in Nga Tsin Wai date back to at least 1352, according to stone carvings inside its Tin Hau temple.

It is said that the village was earlier founded by the entourage of the last Song emperor, who came to Kowloon to escape Mongolian hordes in the 13th century.

But against the mighty Kublai Khan's army, there could be no hope.

The emperor jumped into the sea in desperation. His attendants, however, remained and founded Nga Tsin Wai.

They built a fortified village to fend off the advancing Mongolian army and, later, marauding pirates.

Most of the villagers are descendants from three clans - Ng, Chan and Lee.

The village used to have a watchtower, moat and drawbridge to safeguard it.

But the moat was filled in by Japanese soldiers during World War II, while the drawbridge and watchtower were dismantled to build a military airport. This was the base for Japanese fighter jets to take off and carry out raids in Southeast Asia. Two cannons guarding the village's entrance were buried.

Many village houses in the surrounding area were torn down by the Japanese troops - so the materials could be used to build the airport - but Nga Tsin Wai village survived.

Today, only the Tin Hau temple - which will be spared demolition in the redevelopment - the clan hall and a handful of village houses remain intact.

The villagers were fishermen by profession for centuries. Tin Hau, or the sea goddess, is their patron deity.

Every 10 years, usually at the end of the 10th lunar month, the village celebrates the Tai Ping Ching Chiu festival, when Tin Hau is thanked for guarding it against evil spirits and pacifying the sea.