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Hong Kong Skyline
15 Sep 2022

Changing Trains: Unexpected Locations by MTR and Light Rail

Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is among the best public transport systems in the world. But what about the destinations waiting to be explored? Chatteris’ own Christopher Fitzmaurice guides us through some unique and unexpected stops on Hong Kong’s public transport.

Mong Kok in Hong Kong
Mong Kok is one of the busiest neighbourhoods in the world | Image by Jessica Tarr

First, let me introduce you to some local geography: Hong Kong 香港 (Heung Gong) means: “Fragrant Port”. Kowloon is an English transliteration of 九龍, Gaulung, which is Cantonese for “nine dragons”. The New Territories are part of Hong Kong SAR beyond Kowloon. Guangdong ,廣東, is the province to which the Hong Kong SAR is attached. Lantau is an island close to Hong Kong, accessible by rail. Lamma 南丫Island is close to Hong Kong and accessible by ferry. Gaai Haan Gaai 界限街(Boundary Street) represents the historical division between Kowloon and what is now Guangdong. Hong Kong has grown in waves. Like the rings of a tree, you can observe these from the aesthetics of each area.

Let’s start in Mong Kok, 旺角, the “prosperous corner”. Our first stop is Prince Edward Station, on the red Tsuen Wan line. Exit and walk to Boundary Street. This line was once the boundary between colonial Hong Kong and the Qing Empire. If you walk east, you will reach The Kowloon Walled City. What began as a fort ultimately became anarchic, a crowded city crammed into the confines of the walls. It also became home to many people. It is now a park, but you can still see the remains of the original fort and the gates to the city. You can read more about the walled city here.

If we walk or take the Tsuen Wan Line further out, the next stop is Sham Shui Po. It is a vibrant mix of stores and markets. It is also a visual example of Hong Kong’s iterative expansion.

If you go even further, you will reach Lai King, where you will find a container port. Urban photography opportunities abound for those interested in the snaking, heaped rails and roads. Further up is a charming housing estate built into the hill. Attached to this is a market containing, among other things, the ingredients necessary to make malatang (麻辣燙) .

Tai Po Sunset in Hong Kong
Tai Po is a beautiful spot for evening walks | Image by Zachary Petherick

At the end of the Tsuen Wan line is Tsuen Wan. This area, combined with Tsuen Wan West, provides a beautiful lake and resting spot that is especially perfect at night.

Now let’s go to the New Territories. Take the Tsuen Wan line back to Admiralty and then head onto the East Rail Line, taking First Class if you enjoy the space. Ride to the end of the line. Now breathe, breathe in the… but you can see another city; that’s Shenzhen. You’re at the Hong Kong SAR border. From there, there is plenty of exploring to do, but be careful not to walk into the controlled border zone unless you have the correct paperwork. 

If you head back to Hong Kong, you will reach a stop called Tai Po. This has excellent seaside walks and a park that looks beautiful at night, often with iridescent kites flying overhead. If you walk up the hills around here, you may be accompanied on your stroll by the occasional monkey.

When you return to the Island, there is much to do. If you are curious; however, take the blue line to North Point and then ride the purple line to Tseung Kwan O. This is one of the new towns, which all have a distinctive feel. This one made me nostalgic, as it reminded me of the industrial towns in the London commuter belt. Apart from their proximity to nature, the new towns are appealing for their varied aesthetics.

Want to explore the interesting neighbourhoods of Hong Kong? Apply to be a Chatteris Tutor here!

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