If Mainlanders had rushed to Hong Kong in the early 1950s and set up home in Sham Shui Po, they went elsewhere as well. On the far east of the island is Chai Wan, which used to be home to six little Hakka villages. The refugees led the government to embark on extensive land clearance and development for new public housing. The villages were demolished.
All that is left is a single house now: Law Uk Hakka House, a designated monument. The house had caught my eye on the internet last week when I had gone to see the Han Dynasty Tomb. I rather feel that I should do a spot of tourist stuff from time to time. So today, I took the underground to the end of the line.
It wasn’t, perhaps, quite worth the journey.
Sitting alone in a small public park by the edge of a housing estate is the single story, five roomed, white-washed house. Despite an uncurated air, the rustic wooden furnishing somehow still bestow a romance of poverty on the place. I am reminded of the line from Sense and Sensibility, ‘I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them’.
One suspects, of course, that there is nothing of the sort. If the Law family, who owned the place, were poor farmers, their elegant and comfortable cottage would have likely been cold in winter and crowded all year round. And judging by how difficult it is to keep my flat dust and dirt free, the place would have been slightly less immaculate and ordered than as displayed in museum form.
Go and visit if you live in Chai Wan. For those coming from further afield, you can be forgiven for tarrying.