Luk Yeung Sun Chuen

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am


Look past the sky-high towers and retail outlets around Tsuen Wan's MTR station and you'll find hints of the area's rich history.

At the foot of the Luk Yeung Sun Chuen estate is a nearly 300-year-old temple dedicated to sea goddess Tin Hau, a reminder that the district was once a stone's throw from the sea. Next door is the village of Sam Tung Uk, which dates back more than two centuries and has been beautifully preserved as a testament to the Hakka people who first settled the area.

Still, it's hard to believe you're in the New Territories when you're walking on overhead walkways among towering residential blocks. These piles of concrete are the product of the late-20th-century push to carve out 'new towns', with Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung some of the first attempts, dating back to the 1950s.

There was little in the way of planning conducted for these first new towns. Only in 1973 did the government form the New Territories Development Department and start plotting suburbs such as Sha Tin.

Many of the earliest public housing estates in Tsuen Wan, such as Tai Wo Hau, built in the 60s, were replaced when the MTR arrived in the early 80s, connecting the former farming and fishing village to the Kowloon sprawl.

The area near Tsuen Wan MTR station provides a glimpse of lower-middle-class and working-class life. In the Tsuen Cheong Centre, there's a series of interlocking small shopping malls, none of which has much in the way of brand-name outlets.

This is the end of the Tsuen Wan line, the depot of which lies below Luk Yeung Sun Chuen. Cross-border buses to Huanggang depart from Kwu Uk Lane and cost only HK$38 (or HK$35 if you pay by Octopus).

Many of the traditional villages around what's now the MTR were relocated north of Cheung Pei Shan Road, around 1980. Dozens of white three-storey village houses can be seen as you head towards the Shing Mun Tunnel, an incongruous reminder that this part of the 'city' is still technically a series of New Territories country towns.

According to Green Sense, the MTR owns more than 75 per cent of the property in Luk Yeung Sun Chuen, leaving other flat owners with little or no say in management matters.

Around Luk Yeung Sun Chuen

1) Luk Yeung Sun Chuen

A forerunner in the development of Hong Kong's large housing estates, 'Green Willow New Estate' dates back almost 30 years, to when the MTR arrived in the district. The 17 towers were built in 1983 at the height of Tsuen Wan's development.

2 Sam Tung Uk Museum

This traditional walled village (2 Kwu Uk Lane, tel: 2411 2001) is a Hakka settlement founded by the Chan clan in 1786. The village, which translates as 'three-beam dwelling', is built around an entrance hall, an assembly hall for celebrations and an ancestral hall. The village was still functioning as such in the 1970s, when the skyscrapers moved in, and is now beautifully preserved, and hosts exhibitions on traditional village life and the history of Tsuen Wan.

3 Tin Hau Temple

There's a large temple complex, the Tin Hau Gong, or Tin Hau Palace, in the shadows of the Luk Yeung Sun Chuen towers. The temple dates to around 1721, but has been rebuilt repeatedly over the years, most recently in 1983, after the construction of the MTR line in 1978 had shaken its foundations. The latest work added a large court- yard filled with incense coils and a huge incinerator, and incense smoke and ash still waft over the neighbouring park. In pre-war days, the complex housed the Tsuen Wan Kuk, set up to solve disputes and promote community initiatives.

Average house price HK$2.9 million for a 511 sq ft flat in Luk Yeung Sun Chuen

Average rent HK$12,000 for a 671 sq ft flat in Luk Yeung Sun Chuen

Nearest shop Tsuen Cheong Centre is an old-school mall of interlinked arcades

Nearest ATM Hang Seng, Jetco and Nanyang Commercial Bank at Tsuen Wan MTR station

Nearest MTR Literally below your feet

Nearest restaurants Many in the small shopping centres linked to the MTR