Search for “Shek Kwu Lung Village” (石古壟) and you’ll find next to no information about this sleepy corner of Tai Po district (大埔區) in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Surprisingly though, the area houses a large Thai Buddhist temple, used predominantly by the Thai community living in and around the area. During Thai New Year in mid-April I paid a visit…
After alighting at Tai Wo MTR station we headed towards the ramshackle cluster of houses which makes up Shek Kwu Lung Village and wandered up an uneven path through the valley towards a bridge under construction, its central section balancing precariously on a single concrete beam.
Once inside the village, the temple is actually pretty well signposted, although the journey is somewhat of a pilgrimage through the jungle. Located on the side of a hill in the dense undergrowth, the temple is known as Wat Mekthumvanaram or Wat Tai Wo (วัดเมฆธรรมวนาราม / ไทหว่อ).
Since our visit coincided with the Songkran New Year festival (สงกรานต์) there was a large crowd and a group of monks preaching their sermons. I couldn’t help but feel that they had picked the right outfit and hairstyle for the weather – all I need are some saffron robes and I’d fit right in!
One of the popular celebrations during Songkran is the throwing of water, as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the new year (and also offer some relief from the scorching weather in Thailand at this time of year). At this point I put my camera away to avoid any damage!
After getting thoroughly drenched we wandered back to Tai Po Market (大埔墟) in search of food.
Fresh mangos, dragon fruit (火龍果) and asparagus in plentiful supply. I loved all the random assortment of baskets hanging from the ceiling of this stall.
Fresh meat by the bucket load – if you’re squeamish about seeing dead animal parts then you may want to avoid wet markets in Asia.
One of the amazing sights you’ll find all over Hong Kong are refuse collectors who haul around huge loads on tiny trolleys. For a spot of local culture, Tai Po is well worth an explore, just remember to bring a change of clothes!