So Close, Yet So Far
In 2016, the three stages of reduction of the Frontier Closed Area (FCA) were completed. At the west of Northern New Territories, the former closed area of Ta Kwu Ling, where indigenous residents live, is now open. This opening and the large-scale construction at Liantang Boundary Control Point are gradually changing the area’s features.
Interestingly, although Lin Ma Hang Village, situated at the northernmost of Hong Kong, is no longer part of the FCA, the only carriage way leading to the Village still is. Without a Closed Road Permit, you have to walk to the village outside FCA’s wire mesh. It poses inconvenience to residents and visitors, but also slows down the pace of development.
As a resident of Lin Ma Hang Village, YIP Yuk-kwan left to work in Germany when he was young, and came back to the Village more than two decades ago. He will tell us about Lin Ma Hang’s history, in addition to visiting Lin Ma Hang Lead Mines, Bridge to the World, and MacIntosh Fort, which all have associations with Lin Ma Hang and FCA.
If you head east from Northern New Territories to Sha Tau Kok, some places there still falls within the FCA. There you can find the northernmost island in the territory, Ap Chau, which is only one kilometre apart from Shenzhen’s Yantian port. Ferries provide the main transportation between Ap Chau and Sha Tau Kok. With the size of only four football pitches, it is currently the home of merely three people. Even though many villagers of Ap Chau moved to the United Kingdom for jobs in the 1960’s, 89-year-old village chief, CHAN Yuen-on, has stayed and guarded the place for religious reasons all along. He even prays and reads religious texts with the villagers every day in the church. Another villager is CHAN’s daughter, Sister Kiu. Now at the age of 70, she only came back two years ago after her mother passed away to take care of her singleton father. Having dwelled in Newcastle, United Kingdom for half a century, returning to live on Ap Chau is indeed not easy for her. Yet, her father’s awe-inspiring dedication to safeguarding the island proves to be a spiritual anchor for herself as well as other villagers.