Tired of spending your weekend in air-conditioned malls or crowded streets? Try Tai Po. The former fishing village and center of the New Territories was developed into a new town in the late 70s, but you can still experience authentic traces of Hong Kong’s fishing culture, its colonial legacy and wonderful natural scenery all in one easy trip. A Taste of Nature One of the best things about Tai Po is that it’s easily accessible, but still home to some of Hong Kong’s best natural treasures. Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve This 42-hectare “Special Site of Scientific Interest” is home to more than 180 butterfly species, including 50 rare breeds. Aside from offering ecotours, the reserve hosts activities such as butterfly survey training. Project Manager James Luk says the best time to visit now is before 10am or at around 4pm, as the mid-afternoon heat tends to drive the butterflies into the shade. Address: 50 Fung Yuen Village, Ting Kok Road. How to get there: Take public minibus 20C or 20K from Tai Po Market Station. www.fungyuen.org has maps and details. Fish Raft Once the center of action for a robust fishing industry in the 60s, the Fish Raft fish farm is now open to anyone who wants to go fishing or just feed the fish. And if you’re hungry, the little cha chaan tang nearby sells instant noodles topped with clams and mussels fresh from the sea. Fishing costs only $80 for the whole day. How to get there: The area’s a bit tricky to get to—you’ll have to book a shuttle boat. Call 9081-9794. Tai Po Waterfront Park If all of this is a bit too out of the way for you, there’s always the Tai Po Waterfront Park. On Sundays and public holidays, the pier at the end of the park turns into “Sea-Land Market.” A boat tour from Tolo Harbour (tickets are $15 and include a $5 cash coupon) can take you to the market in time for the various Hakka stage performances and stalls. The park’s lovely promenade also allows for quiet strolls by the sea. Address: Yuen Shin Road. For enquiries about Sea-Land Market, call 6970-9661 or visit www.ntascs.org.hk . How to get there: The shuttle bus to the market departs from Tai Po Market Station every 10 minutes between 10:30am-5:30pm on Sundays and public holidays. Look for the sign. A Journey Back in Time Even with new residential blocks springing up everywhere in Tai Po, the district manages to retain many traces of the traditional fishing village life. Here are our picks. Fu Shin Street (Tai Wo Market) Like the Graham Street Market but much bigger, this one even manages to find room for its own temple (Man Mo Temple, see right). Formerly known as Tai Wo City, the area was a bustling center of commercial activity as far back as 1892. The oldest store still running is a pre-war grocery called Lam Po Shing. A walk along the street reveals the quintessential vibrant market atmosphere that’s gradually disappearing from our streets everywhere in the SAR. How to get there: Walk for 5-10 minutes from Tai Po Market Station. Man Mo Temple The first declared monument in the New Territories, Man Mo Temple sits opposite a pork shop and bakery on Fu Shin Street. It is devoted to the Civil God of Literacy (Man) and the Martial God (Mo), the same deities worshipped at Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, Shueng Wan. Think of it as one bank having several branches. How to get there: Same as Fu Shin Street. King Law Ka Shuk Ancestral Hall Built by the Tang clan, this old building has been used as a study hall, a site for clan meetings and a venue for traditional functions for over a hundred years. It’s a great reference for those who want to learn more about the Qing dynasty three-hall-two-courtyard architectural style. Restored in 2001, the building merited a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation. Address: Tai Po Tau Village How to get there: Walk for about 15 minutes from Tai Wo Station. Old Tai Po Police Station and Old District Office North These two buildings provide a fine illustration of the colonial era with their old-fashioned furnishings and historic background. When the New Territories were leased to the British in 1899, the two buildings were built and Tai Po marked as the center of the land. The second of the buildings is now the New Territories Eastern Region Headquarters of the Scout Association of Hong Kong. Address: 11 and 20 Wan Tau Kok Lane. How to get there: Walk for 5 to 10 minutes from Tai Po Market Station. A Foodie’s Tour Hakka Tea Snacks Just in front of Man Mo Temple, a nice old lady sells a very rare, traditional Hakka tea snack made with sticky rice, sugar and a herb extract called “Ji Xi Teng” (literally, “chicken shit weed”). Don’t worry—there’s no actual poop involved. Oliva One of the best restaurants in the neighborhood, Oliva serves up favorites such as Osso Buco and homemade cream puffs. Address: Treasure Garden, 1 On Chee Rd., 2665-0663, 2666-0655 Kwan Kee Beef Brisket A haven for brisket fans that offers different varieties of the dish, and, for braver customers, cow penis (pictured left). Address: 26 Tai Ming Lane, 2638-3071.