Secrect OF Tsuen Wan Lo Wai TsUEN
History of Lo Wai Tsuen
When comes to temple or monastery in Hong Kong, you may not familiar with all but always heard about Yuen Yuen Institute and Western Monastery. These two famous monasteries are actually located at Lo Wai Tsuen in Tsuen Wan. Lo Wai Tsuen is a 372 year old village which is the oldest village in Tsuen wan. Since 1642, Hakka people from Guangdong moved to Hong Kong and developed Lo Wai Tsuen in Tsuen Wan. “Lo Wai Tsuen” means “Old Walled Village” (old in age). In Qing dynasty, local people called the village “Old Village” (old in the opposite of new).
The village was built by 5 families- Tsang, Cheung, Wong, Hui and Tang families in the 17th century. Houses in village were divided into 5 “rows”. Houses from the same family were built in the same row. For example, houses of Tsang family were built together in the same row. Therefore, the houses in Lo Wai Tsuen are called “Row House” and they are divided to Cheung’s Row House, Tsang’s Row House, Wong’s House, etc. It is also a special feature of walled village in Hong Kong. There were 5 ancestral shrines (Chi Tong) which dedicated to 5 families in the village. However, 4 ancestral shrines were collapsed due to disrepair. Now, only Cheung’s ancestral shrines was left. In the past, the shrine is not only a place to worship ancestors but also the school of villagers.
Temples and Monasteries in the village
Two big monasteries in Lo Wai Tsuen
As mentioned above, Western Monastery and Yuen Yuen Institute are the most famous monasteries in the village. Even though you have never been there, you may know their names. But besides these two, there are dozens of various scales of temples and Zen monasteries inside the village. Many small monasteries were rebuilt from old row houses. There is no abbots in the monastery. They are only taking care by villagers. For example, the “Boat Temple” (Heung Hoi Chi Hong) locates at Sam Dip Tam (River). It was designed and rebuilt from row house by villagers. It looks like a fishing boat that is the reason why local villagers call it “Boat Temple”. When it rains, the water level of Sam Dip Tam rises, the temple looks like a boat sailing on the river.
Importance of old village
With the urban development, young villagers gradually left the village and moved to urban areas for more job opportunities. Nowadays, only about 2000 inhabitants still living in the village and most of them are elders. Moreover, the old buildings in village is replacing by new villa as villagers sold their property to outsiders. The colour of the old village is now fading out. The history of Lo Wai Tsuen is mainly passed from generation to generation. It’s afraid that the new generation will eventually lose their traditions and history as the village is aging. In heritage conservation, it’s not only about retaining the buildings, but also concern about the history and people’s sentiment.
How to access
Minibus route 81
Get on at Shiu Wo Street near Tsuen Wan MTR station
Get off at Lo Wai Road ( The entrance of Lo Wai Tsuen)/ Yuen Yuen Institute (The terminal)
Tips: It's better get off at Yuen Yuen Institute (the terminal) and walk down to the village as it's at the top of mountain. If get off at the entrance of Lo Wai Tsuen, you need to climb up the mountain. The slope is very steep!
Lo Wai Tsuen Cultural Promoting activity in 2007 (in Chinese)