Paul Tsui Ka Cheung's Memoirs 3

1. Prior to the completion of the Kowloon Canton Railway in 191- ,one had to walk from Kowloon to get to Fanling. The original route was to land at the Kowloon City Jetty. There you walked to Ngau Chi Wan, from when you climbed the narrow path up to the Gap near Tze Wan Shan Temple. Thence across the ridge, you took the footpath by passing the Mong Fu Shek (Amah Rock) down to Tsang Uk Wai. Thence you might opt to walk to Siu Lek Yuen, at which you might take a sampan to cross the sea for Taipo.Alternatively, you walked bypassing Che Kung Temple to For Tan, and thence bypassing Ma Liu Shui and Cheng Shu Tan to Taipo. From Taipo, you walked along the East bank of the Lam Tsuen River to Tai Hang, Kowloon Hang. Here you might take the route via Tong Hang to Lo Wai and thence to Sha Tau Kok; or alternatively you might proceed direct to Fanling Village of the Pangs, and thence to Sheung Shui of the Lius. In all, it was a good one day's walk. Howevere, after the New Territories circular road was built, 6 hours was sufficient to cover the distance on foot. There was yet another alternative, it was possible then to take a steam ferry boat, via Deep Bay, to Lo Wu; from where a journey on foot southwards, would take only 2 hours.

2. On completion of the K.C.R., the train took only 50 minutes from Tsishatsui to Fanling station, which was just a lttile over 19 miles away from the Kowloon Terminal. Now that the trains are electrified, the journey takes no more tahn 30 minutes. By motorized vehicles along the old New Territories Circular Road, via Taipo, it would take about 40 minutes non-stop. The 20th mile-stone was planted at a point just about 400 yards before you reached the Fanling Cross Road (now the Roundabout, where the Magistracy is). Now that we have a 6-lane speedway, the journey should takes only 30 minutes. Howeveer, because of the heavy traffic, more often than not, it takes near a hour just to drive from Kowloon Tong to the Jockey Club,

3. Our 1924 new house in Fanling was built at a relatively new villagestead, which was christened Shung Him Tong ( ) - a very unconventionally name for a Chinese rural village. It was literally Christened, because members of the entire village community had been baptized as Christians, and (with the exception of my family), were all admitted to the Tsung Ching Church ( ) founded by the missionaries of the Basil Mission from Switzerland - a Sect of the Lutheran Protestant Denomination. The name ( ), deliberately chosen, was to remind the village inhabitants that they were Christian, and they should always remember to honour the Son of God, who chose to become a human being of a humble social status, so that mankind might be saved. To reach the villagestead from the railway station, we had to exercise a `right of way' passing through what was then, already a private property of On Lok Tsuen ( ) another innovated housing project, (in nature not unlike Hong Lok Yuen or Fariview Park of to day). On Lok Tsuen was intended for development into a housing estate, with about one hundred garden-house lots for quiet and peaceful living of the wealthy but retired Rich or Famous.

4. The new house shaped more like a Dice or Cube-sugar than anything else. It was a hybrid between what was conventional in rural China and what my father might have personally interpreted to be the American equivalent -as he had read from many magazines he bought for reference. It was a 2-storeyed square house, without much external ornamental decorations. The porch in front, was supported by columns of pillars, which gave you an impression as the White House of Washington DC might give you. As you entered, there was a fairly spacious hall, intended as Reception hall and Parlour combined (typical of a Chinese Rural Mansion). Two windows in the rear, opened out to lighting well at the back. (This was definately not Chinese). There was a dining room on the right, a staircase compartment separating the dining room from the kitchen at the rear.(AgChinese) On the left, there was a guest room, and two additonal rooms, of which one could be used as a Den, the other an extra bed room which could be used as a store room, as required. The spacious centre room on the floor immediately above, was intended as the family room( ?American). The sleeping chambers were all located upstairs. The space beneath the staircase, was enclosed to be the bathroom. There was no running piped water. Bucket was used for hot water, which would be shavelled over the body with a hand towel, in a manner not unlike the taking of a shower, for our baths. The flooring for the ground floor was of cement concrete, rendered smooth; and the flooring upstairs was of hard wood laid on beams of China Fir poles. By the then conventional standard for country houses in rural China, our 6'x 4' teakwood windows were exceptionally large. However, compared to the American opened down to the floor widows, they were rather small. It could be that my father had been over exposed to the Italian or Portuguese influence, the widows had heavy teakwood of the Mediterean type opening out on the outside, a teakwood framed glass panel on the inside, with eight half-an inch vertical iron bars, spaced 4 inches apart, sandwitched in between the shutter and the glass pannel.Despite two layers of solid teakwood reputed for its hardness and the iron bars in between, there were a lot of reservations on security grounds, when comments were made about the window desgin. It was thought that the iron bars were too light to withstand the blows of robbers who, if they were to attack us, would certainly use great enough force to break them.

5. At the age of 7/8, travelling on steam K.C.R. trains were always a treat for me. I used to pick a window seat, and spent the whole time watching what might be there outisde the train to see from the widow along the route. I soon learnt to know by heart and in the right order the names of the Railway stations. The railway terminal in Kowloon in those days was at Tsim Sha Tsui, linked to the Star Ferry Pier. The Station Buildings featured a clock tower. The name of the Station however, was: ˂. Next after was Yaumati, which was located at Mongkok as it now still is. There was no railway station at Kowloon Tong, the next stop was at Shatin, then a very rural part of the New Territoreis. There was a Taipo Kau station, which bore the name Taipo only; and another station at Taipo Market, (which has in recent years been converted into a Railway Museum ) Then came the Fanling, where we got off. Beyond Fanling there was one more; namely, the Sheungshui Station, before reaching Lo Wu, - the terminal of the British Section of the k.C.R. at the Sino British Border. The Locomotives were all steam engines, and I could clearly recollect, they were serial numbered, and there were 12 of them for the British Section of the K.C.R. The locomotives were not all of the same size or the same model. Nos.1 & 2 were larger and looked clumsier, Nos. 9,10,11 and 12 were shorter and looked smarter.They were reserved for Express Trains to Canton. Nos.3,4,5,6,7 & 8 were most frequently seen, as they made up the main team responsible for local trains on which we travel most of the time. For the local trains, there usually were 5 passenger carriages with an additional open carriage for cargoes. Of the 5 passenger carriages, 3 were Third class, 1 was Second class and 1 was First class. The 3rd class carraiges had long benches to seat unrestricted number oif passengers. The 2nd Clas carriages had compartments for 4 on heard seats with a table in each such compartment. The 1st class carriages had sofa seats for 4 in each compartment, and the compartments were more spacious than those of the 2nd class. Of the 3 Third class carriages, one had half of the carriage partitioned off to be a Bagage-compament, with a small corner pen for Dogs. Over the Dog pen, sat the Train Guard, who commanded the movement of the train, by blowing his whistle and waving his Green and Red flags.. He was assisted by a coolie, whose job it was, to keep the train clean and to switch on and off, the lights before the train entering and leaving the 2 long tunnels. Occasionally, we had the ticket inspectors whose job it was to ensure every one had paid their fares. There used to be mannually operated signals at both ends of every station, and 2 signalmen had to walk about 100 yards both ways from the station, to operate the signals, before the trains were due to reach and leave the stations. There were also a total of Seven `lewvel crossings' at which the motorable road crossed the railway, and at each such Level Crossing, there was a small house, which housed a signalman whose job it was to close and open the gate, every time before and after a train passes. There was also a similar house at either end of the Beacon Hill Tunnel, to house the guards who guarded the tunnel, preventing unauthorized persons from entering the tunnel. As the train goes though the mile long Beacon Hill Tunnel, heavy smoke from the steam engine of the locomotive would be blown into the carriage compartments. Passengers had to help themselves to close the windows before the train entering the tunnel, and to open them again, soon after leaving the tunnel.

6. Leaving the Kowloon Terminal at Tsimshatsui, we first passed the Railway's own ware houses on the right, then the Holts Warlf Godowns for the Blue Funnel Ships (the site where you now have the New World Complex and the Regent Hotel ), and then the playing fields along Chatham Road (the site of Tsimshatsui East of to-day) before coming going through, under the Chatham Road bridge, to the KCR Workshops at Hung Hom. Then the train went through the narrow gorge like cutting of Homantin. On coming out the gorge like cutting, we came to the station at Mongkok which bears the name Yaumati. Thence on, we passed through a very short tunnel, and came to Kowloon Tong. (There was no stop or station at Kowloon Tong in those days). Thence we came to the mile long Beacon Hill tunnel. On leaving the tunnel, we were already in rural Shatin. Here we were confronted by the sight of what appeared to be a fertile plain, full of lovely paddy fields and other vegetations, dotted with villages here and there. The contrast was always dramatic, as we came out from either end of the tunnel. Soon we came to the Shatin Station, which was so rural and peaceful, when compared with Yaumati. Then we passed by the tidal cove of Shatin, and then by the Lake like inland sea of Tolo Harbour, passing by Cheung Shu Tan (Camphor Wood Tree Beach ) before coming to Taipo Kau, a European Residential Resserve, in which only Europeans might apply and be granted a licence from the Governor to build a house to live within the limits of the Reserve. There was also a landing jetty, built right out into the sea, to which a police launch is often seen tied alongside, and at which a ferry boat, going to Sha Yu Chung ( ) - across the border at the northern shore of Mirs Bay also used as a terminal. Then we came to a level crossing, with a causeway connected to the Island House, before coming to a hill, on top of which, stood the then District Office. The Taipo Police Station was built right next to the the District Office, which was also the Magistracy. Passing by the hill, we came to the Taipo Market Station. Then we crossed the Lam Tsuen River by a high bridge to come to Taipo Tau, and passing by Lam Tsuen we came to Tai Hang on the left, and Kowloon Hang on the right. we soon reached the Level crossing near Wo Hop Shek. On passing by the hillock of Wong Kong Shan, we had to get ready to get off the train at the Fanling Station. Further on, we could only see a bit of Fanling Village of the Pang clan, hidden behind the trees of a fungshui grove. Views of Sheungshui, Lo Wu and beyond were somehow blurred. However, there was then a Light Rail for a 3-carrige train drawn by steam small locomotives, which ran a shuttle service three times a day to and from Shataukok, Five and a half miles away, to the N.E. of Fanling.

7. We moved in to our new house, the "Shek Lo" ( ) 3 days before the Chinese New Year in (?)Feburary, 1925. The house was hardly ready. The exteranal walls were not even plastered. Scafoldings outside the house were still up. Walls inside were just finished and newly white-washed. Windows and doors however were already securely installed. led. There were no electity, and we had to use kerosene for lighting. The days were short. The nights were pitch dark, punctuated by the barking of dogs near and far in the neighbourhood. Though it was winter. the `Winging' sounds of a few mosquitoes reminded us of therir presence. A few moths dashed on to our weak kerosene lamps as if they wanted to extinquish, with their flipping wings, the flames which gave us the dim light. I have to confess, my experience of the first night in our new house was one of somewhat fearful if not frightening sensation. The wintry winds outside the house, blowed on the the bamboo scafoldings, producing an intermiten whizzing sound, as if it were the sound of ghosts crying, in the ghost stories I loved but scared to hear. On going to bed, I covered my head with my quilted comforter, and hurrily said my additional prayers in the private. Soon I felt asleep.

8. Waking up early next morning, the feeling was enirely different. The cock crewed before dawn, followed by the `chic chic' of chics feeding with their mother-hen, mixed with the `mu mu' of our neighbours' oxen and cows; the `quac quack" of the ducks, contrasting the `Ghi ghi' of the gheese. The dogs ceased to bark. Loud human voices could be heard shouting at the distance. The air was fresh. The morning sun was glorious and warm. The village was full of life and activities. My cousins came over very early to greet us good morning. Everything was cheerful. The views outside the house was wide open. Birds were singing at the distance. The butcher came early, announcing his coming by blowing the hollowed horn of a Conch. Mom was already busy cutting fresh vegetables from my aunt's vegetable bed by the side of the house. Women had to carry their buckets of water from the village well. Gentle smoke were coming out from the short chimneys on the roofs of the village houses indicating substantial breakfasts being prepared.

9. Armed robbery, raiding country houses of the `wealthy' by bandits, kidnapping the `sons' holding them for ransome, in addition robbing off moneys and valuables, was widely accepted as a reality of life in rural China. Policemen and Police stations were few and far between, and were not expected to be effective in ensuring the safety of the inhabitants against armed bandits. Rural communities had to resort to all sorts of security umeasures, including fire- arms or other weapons, village-guards with mutually prearranged communication codes of drums beating and and gongs banging for mutual aid or collective safety. There was no telecommunication between the inhabitants and the police. The system of "Dial 999" for emergency was unheard of. As a preventive measure, my father and my uncle both joined the local Mutual Aid League, known as Lun On Tong ( ) for the relative wealthy. They met for a dinner 4 times a year, to renew their acquaintance, but the main purpose of the League was to work out a mutually agreed alarm system, against possible attacks by bandits, Under the system, each member family was issued with a drum and a gong. The agreed code was, in the unlikely event of one of the league member's family were being attacked by a gang of bandits, the victim family would first beat the drums. Other league member family, on hearing the sound of the drum, would in turn respond by beating their respective drums. As the chain of dums beating response got underway, the victim family, under attack, would turn to beat the Gong, to indicate the his was the victim family. To qualify for membersip of the League, the individual must be in a position to buy a gun (a shot gun) and a few rounds of ammunitions, and obtained a licence for such from the Police. The idea was each such member family would provide an abled bodied member, or at least have employed at least an abled bodied young-male servant, who would serve as either a home guard or a village guard. They would be trained to use such firearms, and would, in response to an `emergency call'- by the drums and gong beating, go out and render assistance to the family in distress, and thus hopefully to collectively chase away the bandits. It all sounded very well in theory, however, as in the events of two actual robberies in the neightbourhood in the late Twenties, in both cases, moneys and valuables were robbed, and a young son was kidnapped, no one dared to go out to render any effective assistance. The Police only came on the day after to take statements, Ransome moneys were paid to recovered the kidnapped sons. The mutual assistance scheme didn't work, consequently the Mutual Aid League soon whithered away.

10. One of the main reasons as to why my aunt's husband was so keen and helpful to induce my father to build our house in the same villagestead as his, was to ensure that he would not feel so isolated in a rural district in which he himself was a relatively recent immigrant. With a trusty and intelligent brother-in-law, noted for his courage demonstrated in an inter clan feud which took place up country not that many years ago, building a house and living close by, gave him a feeling of real sense of security, psychological, social as well as physical. To reinforce these, the two of them joint force in a well thought out and well planned Socio-Public Relations Programme. Togehter, they built, founded and managed a village school for the children of the Hakka communities in the neighbourhood. In addition, they formed and worked out a draft constitution for an Association for the ethnic Hakkas, by the name Luen Wo Tong ( ), which they met once a years, to discuss certain social issues, and reaching agreements on and formulating a series of social practices. Amongst the various things, they resolved at the first Ganeral Meeting,were:-

a) That ӂ ǂ, at Weddings, House Warmings, Birthdays, Moon Yuets and other similar Joyful social occassions, was fixed at an agreed rate of , cash, if a single person is invited; and should not exceed $1,00 if the whole family were invited. Provided always that there is no obligation to send a Gift unless the host had initiatingly sent out his invitation.. Helpers for the Wedding feast, the wedding procession etc., should each be paid service Lai shi at 50 cents esch.

b)That at funerals, able bodied members of the Association should volunteer to help, as pall bearers, grave diggers, or render such other assistance as necessary, but such helpers should in return each be paid a service Lai shi at 60 cents per head per day.

c)That the heads of family of the Hakka communities in the neighourhood should meet once a year, on the 8th day of the Chinese New Year, at which they would exchange their New Year Greetings, and the occasion would also serve as Annual General Meeting to discuss subjects of common interest, to pass new resolutions or to amend old resolutions etc.

Events proved that such social integration was far more effective for mutual mutul trust and collective security than the earlier on described "Defence Treaty" of the Luen On Tong concept. Through the organization of Lue Wo Tong, we made a lot a friends, built up a lot of trust, and we integrated ourselves truthfully into the society of the neighbourhood. The Association continued to function right up to the days of the Japanese occupation. Though it was not revived after World War II, the spirit continued. In the early Fifties, when a new market town was established for Fanling District, they adopted the name Luen Wo, for the Market. Hence the name Luen Wa Hui of to-day.

The school, though suspended during the Japanese Occupation, was soon revived and later redeveloped. It celebrated its Diamond Jubilee (60th Annivrsary) a few years ago in 1985. The organization continued to function for over 15 years, right up to the days when the Japanese occupied Hongkong. The School, was revived soon after the Japanese occup