Ip Shui-lai, 72, was busy greeting guests from various parts of the city yesterday, among them dozens of young people helping to celebrate the village's last Mid-Autumn Festival. Most of the visitors were twenty-something activists involved in the January protests outside the Legislative Council to preserve Ip's home in Tsoi Yuen Tsuen against demolition for the HK$66.9 billion high-speed rail link to Guangzhou. But instead of shouting slogans and yelling at police officers, the activists were busy tuning musical instruments, painting pictures and setting the stage for an evening concert. In a kitchen nearby, villagers were washing, chopping and cooking vegetables harvested from their fields to make dishes for a festival dinner. 'I feel rather sober today as it is going to be my last Mid-Autumn Festival in this place. My father and I built this house and planted the garden together. That was half a century ago. I don't want to leave but I have no choice,' Ip said. There is less than a month to go before government bulldozers arrive to clear land for the railway but the general mood in the Yuen Long village was cheerful. That's because after months of intense negotiations with officials and the Heung Yee Kuk, villagers are confident of finalising a HK$18 million deal to buy a site in Pat Heung to rebuild the village. 'With the help of the government and the Heung Yee Kuk, the Pak Heung residents who used to disapprove of having us as their new neighbours have changed their mind,' villager Ko Chun-heung said. The government also informally signalled it was likely to allow the villagers to stay at their present homes for another six months to give them time to build new ones. 'It is rather ambiguous. But we expect the government will resume [only the] vacant houses when the October 15 deadline arrives. Houses still occupied will be left alone,' Chen Yun-chung, an assistant professor of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said. Chen is involved in planning the new village. Ip, meanwhile, hopes the government will openly commit to the six-month extension. Intensive negotiations on re-housing Tsoi Yuen Tsuen residents started in January when the 450 villagers lost their fight to stay. The government approved 59 of 86 applications from residents who sought to continue their village lifestyle under a farming reinstatement scheme, while the Heung Yee Kuk helped them find the Pat Heung site. So far, nine of the 59 families have pulled out of the collective rebuilding plan to go their own way. A licence to farm is essential for the villagers to rebuild their homes because only those with the licence can build a 400 square metre house. Those who are given the farming licences have to sign a letter, promising to move out before the October 15 deadline or the government will not release their cash compensation. 'We sincerely want to observe the deadline, but the government only informed us at the end of last month about which families were entitled to the farming licence. And there are many hurdles ahead,' Ko said. The outstanding issues include the right to use a private road connecting the new village to the main road, the installation of street lamps and running water in every home. 'The government refused to give us street lamps. Running water will only be installed up to the village entrance. Villagers will not have running water in their homes if the government doesn't change its mind,' Chen said. The Transport and Housing Bureau says it will follow established procedure on the provision of infrastructure. The developments come three months after a notice was posted on Facebook asking for 'warriors' to help the villagers build their new homes. The notice posted in June hinted that the activists were prepared for a violent clash with authorities because there was no progress on the farming licences.