Where To Live: Tung Chung
Tung Chung was a fishing and farming town on Lantau Island populated since the Song dynasty, which evolved into a new town when the Hong Kong International Airport was built at Chek Lap Kok. Tung Chung's first high-rises were built on reclaimed land to the north and east of the old town. Development was planned over four phases to create housing for a targeted population of 250,000. As the distance from Tung Chung to Central has been shortened to 25 minutes via the Tung Chung MTR line, the new town has become a viable address for the budget-conscious who are happy to commute to Central for work. Citygate mall, adjoining the new town's MTR terminal, is the district's commercial, retail and entertainment hub. It consists of a shopping mall featuring popular brand-name outlets, an office tower with 150,000 sqft of gross area and a luxury hotel, the Novotel Citygate. The new town has also become a tourist hub following the inauguration of Ngong Ping 360 (left), the cable car attraction that takes sightseers across verdant valleys from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping, home of the giant Buddha on Lantau.
Public housing mixes with private developments in this new town. The private housing development forerunners are Tung Chung Crescent and Seaview Crescent, both jointly developed by Hang Lung Development, Henderson Land Development, New World Development, Sun Hung Kai Properties and the MTR Corp. Tung Chung Crescent has eight towers of 2,158 units ranging from 712 to 1,154 sqft and duplexes from 1,489 to 1,907sqft. Seaview Crescent has four towers with 1,536 units in two to three-bedroom configurations. The three-phase development of Caribbean Coast, a joint venture of Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa, completed in 2005, has 11 towers of 4,456 units ranging from 636 to 1,295 sqft. Coastal Skyline , being developed by a consortium comprising HKR International, Hong Leong Holdings and Recosia, is the only development with luxury low-rise units, in addition to seven high-rise towers. It features 41 houses and six mid-rise blocks. The units range from one-bedroom, aimed at trendy Central workers and flight crew, to 1,700 sqft duplexes for those seeking top-of-the-range accommodation near the airport. All private developments have extensive clubhouse facilities and landscaped gardens. Tung Chung property prices are relatively affordable. Rents for private flats range from HK$9 to HK$11 per square foot, and sale prices range from HK$2,500 to HK$3,500 per square foot. One drawback of living in Tung Chung is the deteriorating air quality caused by the nightly fireworks display at Hong Kong Disneyland, and the industrial emissions from factories in the Pearl River Delta.
Tung Chung connects to Hong Kong via the Tsing Ma Bridge, Ma Wan Viaduct, North Lantau Expressway and Cheung Ching Tunnel. The Tung Chung MTR line provides direct access to Central via Tsing Yi and Kowloon. Kowloon-Canton Railway's West Rail is accessible from the Nam Cheong MTR and KCR station. Buses connect Tung Chung to other parts of Lantau and the rest of Hong Kong. Ferry services link Tung Chung with Tuen Mun and TaiO.
Sunshine House runs international preschools in Seaview Crescent. Lantau International School in Mui Wo provides British curriculum schooling from Primary One to Six. It has 110 students with vacancies at various levels. A new English Schools Foundation (ESF) private school, Discovery Bay School, will have its first intake of students from August. It will use the campus of the ESF's Bauhinia School in Kwai Chung until its new school campus in Discovery Bay is ready in January.
Board the Ngong Ping Skyrail at Tung Chung terminal near Citygate shopping mall and experience a 20 to 25-minute cable car ride over North Lantau Country Park with spectacular views of Tung Chung, the airport and the giant Tian Tan Buddha (left). A village with shops, refreshments and entertainment awaits at Ngong Ping Terminal. A short walk from the village is the Po Lin monastery, featuring the 34-metre high Buddha, reputed to be the world's tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha statue. About 15 minutes walk from the monastery is the Wisdom Path, a wooden replica of the famed Heart Sutra arranged in the form of the infinity symbol. Take a bus or taxi from the village to TaiO to savour the quaint fishing village charm, or ride on speedboats from the village for a glimpse of the Chinese white dolphins. Get an insight into Tung Chung's heritage at the Tung Chung fort (above), which was built in 1817 and still has six intact muzzle-loading cannons. The Qing Dynasty Hau Wong Temple (1765) features ornate interior decoration and a bell made in that year. More temples and beaches on Lantau are in easy reach via Lantau's bus network. And, of course, Hong Kong Disneyland is just a short ride from Tung Chung.