Abandoned by locals and restored by expats, Pak Sha O village retains its historic charm.
Pak Sha O, which literally translates as ‘white sand cove’, is a small village surrounded by lush greenery, hidden in Sai Kung Country Park. Pirates were prevalent back in the day and entered into the village from Hoi Ha. The pirates posed great danger to Pak Sha O villagers as they would try and steal food from residents and not hesitate to intimidate and cause injuries while doing so.
No longer threatened by pirates, the village is now home to around 20 residents and Chinese farmers. None of the original Hakka families live in Pak Sha O Village anymore, while the majority of its current residents are expatriates.
Pak Sha O Village was abandoned when descendents of the founding Ho family left Hong Kong. Fortunately, it’s idyllic charm is well-kept by newcomers, who spent years renovating the traditional Hakka buildings and restoring the village’s ancestral hall. Long time residents Tom and Lauralynn Goetz have kept the original interior of their Hakka house, its wooden beams and drawers dating back a century are still in use. “Although it’s far from the city centre, we liked the village instantly the first time we were here”, says Tom. “We have lived here for around 30 years”.
A rustic watchtower, which was constructed by the Ho family, stands out from the village houses. The Ho’s acted as an agency, sending boys from Hoi Ha and nearby villages to be sailors out at sea, they were thus able to source the best materials for their family compound from overseas. Also standing at the back of the village is a Catholic church. The Hakka clan were Catholics and Italian priests ran the church. Now, the church is administered by the Kowloon East Scouts Group and is occasionally open during weekends.
At the entrance of the village lies the Pak Sha O Youth Hostel, which was once a primary school for children from nearby villages. Sometimes prisoners from the Pik Uk Prison are sent to the hostel for maintenance and gardening work and caretakers are only present when there are visitors at the hostel.
The village is facing a great challenge, not from pirates this time, but from property developers. “Developers have bought plots of land. It is a pity that they have turned the wetlands into farmlands. They intend to build 32 houses and develop roads here, but it will ruin the beauty of this village,” says Tom, who strongly opposes the idea. “We are attending a hearing with the town planning board to object to the proposal, hopefully they’ll listen to us.”
The residents of the Pak Sha O Village form a close-knitted community; villagers gather outside the Goetz’s house regularly, also known as ‘the crossroads’, for a drink and chat. “It’s a private and chilled village, full of eccentric and interesting people”.
How to get to Pak Sha O Village
– Take Minibus no.7 from Sai Kung pier to Hoi Ha, get off at Pak Sha O, costs $11 per trip.
– Take a taxi from Sai Kung, takes around 30 minutes.
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