“A Date with Hing Chun Alliance” Exhibition at Central Market

01 December 2022

Chinachem Group has long been committed to the conservation of historic architecture and intangible cultural heritage, while realising ‘urban-rural integration’. By utilising local resources and potential, we help co-create public spaces and communities under the approach of ‘place-making’. By fostering the sustainable development of communities or historical buildings, we hope they will resonate emotionally with people so that our most cherished traditions and culture can live on to the next generation.

Following the revitalisation of the Grade III historic building in Central Market, we are also supporting the preservation of the precious Hakka culture in Hing Chun Alliance – one of Hong Kong’s oldest rural villages built more than 300 years ago.

“A Date with Hing Chun Alliance” Exhibition in Central Market

Experience the culture and daily life of traditional local rural villages in the heart of bustling Central, where the exhibition “A Date with Hing Chun Alliance” fully embodies the integration of rural and urban communities.

The exhibition is aimed at transporting visitors from Central to the ambience of Hing Chun Alliance villages through a five-sense experience of “Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell and Taste”, to learn about four living essentials in these villages, “Clothes, Food, Home and, Commute”, as a way to preserve and promote the culture and economic development of the rural area.

Details of the Exhibition

Date: From now to 31 March 2023 (Open as usual during holidays)

Time: 10:00am to 7:00pm

Venue: Legacy Hall, 1/F, Central Market, 93 Queens Road Central




Lai Chi Wo Story Room

If you want to explore authentic Hakka culture, visiting Lai Chi Wo will give you a rewarding experience and a thorough understanding of the local customs. The Chinachem Group-funded Lai Chi Wo Story Room focuses on four themes of Hakka life in the Hing Chun Alliance villages, namely daily lives, wedding rituals, traditional medicine and Hakka folk songs. By taking visitors back to the glorious days of the past, it helps promote the Hakka culture to the younger generations. Lai Chi Wo, where the Story Room is located, is one of Hong Kong’s oldest, largest and best-preserved rural settlements.

Opening Time:

10:00am to 4:00pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays

(Closed on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd days of Lunar New Year)


Getting to Lai Chi Wo

By Kaito Ferry Service

1) Take the Kaito Ferry Service at Ma Liu Shui

Visitors can travel by MTR East Rail and get off at University Station, Exit B, then walk for about 15 minutes to Ma Liu Shui Pier for the kaito ferry service to Lai Chi Wo. The normal travelling time is about 1.5 hours. Visitors are advised to take the ferry schedule into consideration when planning the trip.


Mondays to Fridays: Subject to demand

Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays:

From Ma Liu Shui: 9:00am

From Lai Chi Wo: 3:30pm

Fare: $45 (single trip)

Booking and enquiries: 2555 9269 (Best Sonic Industrial Limited)

For details of the service, please refer to the website of Transport Department.

2) Take the Kaito Ferry Service at Sam Mun Tsai or Tai Shui Hang

Following the commencement of "Sam Mun Tsai – Tai Shui Hang/Lai Chi Wo/Kat O/Ap Chau" kaito ferry service, visitors can take the kaito at Sam Mun Tsai Village or Tai Shui Hang Pier to Lai Chi Wo.


Tuesdays and Thursdays:

From Sam Mun Tsai: 8:30am

From Tai Shui Hang: 9am

Fare: Whole trip (boarding from Sam Mun Tsai/Tai Shui Hang): $80 (per trip)

Whole trip (boarding from Lai Chi Wo/Kat O/Ap Chau): $60 (per trip)

For details of the service, please refer to the website of Transport Department.

3) You may consider hiring a boat or joining a local tour

4) Hike to Lai Chi Wo (for hikers with a degree of experience)

Take green minibus no. 20R at the minibus terminus at Tai Po Market MTR Station, get off at Wu Kau Tang, or take KMB 275R at Tai Po Market MTR station to Wu Kau Tang on Sundays and Public Holidays only. Follow the trail and hike for about 8 km (about 2.5 hours). Alternatively take green minibus no. 56K which runs between Fanling MTR station and Luk Keng. You can get off at Luk Keng and follow the hiking trail from Fung Hang for about 8 km (about 2.5 hours).

Source: Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark


【Hakka culture started from "sound"】

The Hong Kong movie “Far Far Away” (緣路山旮旯) brought Lai Chi Wo (荔枝窩) to the big screen, making this ancient Hakka village popular again. When you go to Lai Chi Wo, you can enjoy the UNESCO-designated geological park and learn about the region's Hakka culture, which has a more than 300-year history. The Hakka people think that without the Hakka dialect, there would be no Hakka people. To understand Hakka culture, you can start with the "sound" and become familiar with its Hakka dialect and folk songs.

As one of the ten most difficult dialects to learn and understand, it is not easy to master Hakka, and it is not easy to figure out the branches of Hakka that are as numerous as stars. The Hakka dialect is spoken in many different places, and Mainland China, Taiwan and foreign territories like Malaysia all have their own classification systems for it. The "Chinese Language Atlas," published in 2012, states that Hakka in China is divided into eight major regions, including: Cantonese and Taiwanese parts, Northern Guangdong part, Hǎilù part, Western Cantonese part, Tīng Zhōu part, Yú Xìn part, Ninglong part and Tóng Guì part.

Although the academic classifications for Hong Kong Hakka are Cantonese and Taiwanese, it is preferable to refer to it as a dialect. I am a Hakka person (Ngài he Hak-kâ-ngìn), I love you (ngái o`i ngi)". The Hakka dialect of southwestern Guangdong Province is known as the "𠊎" dialect because it frequently uses the first person pronoun "𠊎" (pronounced "ngái"). However, it can alternatively be written as "Yahua", "Aihua" and so on. In the future, you should understand what is meant when someone says, "You will not die, 𠊎 die."

Early in the Qing Dynasty, the local Hakka people arrived in Hong Kong from provinces like Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian. All of the new immigrants who were farmers were registered as Hakka people or local Hakka people in their household registration. These Hakka individuals created villages in the New Territories, taught Hakka in private schools, and also helped to spread the Hakka language in Hong Kong. Historically, Hong Kong's primary language was Hakka. At its peak, Hakka was spoken by more than 50% of Hong Kong's residents.

In the "City Hero " (飛虎奇兵) sequence, Xia Wenxi (夏文汐) playing Li Xiangqin (李香琴) told her in Hakka not to date Zheng Haonan (鄭浩南). When drafting the script for "Gangland Odyssey," (義膽雄心) Chen Huimin (陳惠敏) briefly left Hong Kong to bid Cheng Kui'an (成奎安) farewell. They both spoke Hakka, revealing that the dialect was still widely used in society at the time.

Mastering Hakka folk songs (Hak-kâ sân-kô), which are a fundamental part of Hakka culture, is a must if one wants to understand the Hakka dialect. As the name implies, they are a particular category of folk songs that are particularly well liked by the Hakka community in Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Taiwan and other locations. Because of the legacy of the Book of Songs, Hakka folk songs were regarded as the sound of nature in the era when there were no Cantonese pop songs. They have been around since the Tang Dynasty and are found mainly in Meizhou and other Hakka communities.

It is important to note that the popularity of folk music in the Hakka region can be attributed to the Hakka people's predominant distribution in the hilly regions of south-east China. Since ancient times, Hakka men and women have laboured in the mountains and fields. They developed the appealing Langlang melody through the course of their sustained hard work.

These three general categories can be used to classify Hakka folk songs:

➢ Self-narcissism or self-venting; there may not be any interactive partner when singing

➢ Flirting between men and women, which is the main part of Hakka folk songs

➢ A banterous ballad, where a man and a woman sing a folk song to each other in a playful manner and the other party will sing a folk song back if there is a reaction, teasing or flirting with each other

It is possible to sing ancient poems too. Hakka folk songs typically have a fundamental structure resembling a seven-character verse, which is made up of seven characters and four sentences. Although the majority of their lyrics are written in the “七字仔” style, which emphasizes flatness and rhyming, not all of the characters are wholly flat. They are distinguished by improvisation, the merging of themes from Hakka culture, and the clever use of metaphors and puns.

While visiting Lai Chi Wo today, you will find farmers sing Hakka folk songs while farming. The elderly folks of the Hing Chung Alliance (慶春約) can share stories with you instead. What is the Hing Chung Alliance? It is actually one of the ten township pacts in Sha Tau Kok (沙頭角). The alliance formed by seven villages in the area is the so-called township pact organisation. The pact organisation has three main functions, namely common defence, joint economic activities and sacrificial offerings. To understand the Hakka culture of the Hing Chung Alliance, everything needs to start with "sound".

【Emigrants can’t forget about it, a stir-fry that "tastes" Hakka culture】

Hakka stewed pork, braised pork with preserved vegetables, and Hakka salted chicken are all popular Hakka or Poon Choi dishes during the New Year. If for no other reason, it is the salty, fragrant and fatty tastes that encourage us to indulge in big feasts. This is particularly so for the Hakka people who have emigrated to the UK or Canada and want to relive the taste of their hometown. However, having a liking for Hakka cuisine does not equal understanding Hakka culture. The real "six bowls, eight pots and ten dishes" of Hakka dishes are actually not flashy, and the salty, fragrant and fatty tastes have their practical considerations. If you can only taste one small dish to fully understand the Hakka culture, it must be a Hakka stir-fry that is salty, fresh and sweet, with the meat being fat but not greasy.

The so-called "six bowls, eight pots and ten dishes" form the basic style of traditional Hakka banquets for guests. The containers are mostly made of peasant utensils such as pots, bowls and large bowls, reflecting legacy customs as well as the simplicity and pragmatic characteristics of Hakka farmers. As for Hakka people's emphasis on delicacies from the mountains rather than the sea, this stems from the places where Hakka people migrated to and lived.

According to records, the Hakka people first migrated to the south and lived in central and southern China in the late Northern Song Dynasty to avoid the invasion of Jin people. They were mainly distributed in the tripoint border areas of Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi. These plains were reclaimed and developed long ago, so Hakka people had to settle on hillsides and reclaim the slopes, which are the terraced fields that everyone now sees. It is precisely because these settlements are far from the coastline, and the Hakka people make their living from farming, that Hakka cuisine relies on mountain delicacies rather than seafoods. Haven’t you ever noticed that famous Hakka dishes use mainly pork, beef, chicken, duck and other livestock?

Because the Hakka people are scattered around the tripoint border areas of Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi, Hakka cuisine has been further sub-divided into Dongjiang style, Fujian west style, Meizhou style, Gannan style and overseas style. When Hakka people fled southward to a warmer climate, they often had to use salt to preserve their food. In addition, Hakka people made their living from agriculture so sweated a lot and needed to supplement their diets with salt to maintain their physical strength. They became good at using all kinds of processed pickled vegetables (such as fermented cabbage, Fucai, prunes and mustard greens with large leaves) as food ingredients.

Why do we say that a Hakka stir fry can reflect Hakka culture? It originates from the characteristics of Hakka farmers who are thrifty and hardworking. The Hakka people usually live frugally and know that it was not easy for their ancestors to cultivate land. Therefore, they will slaughter three heads of livestock as a sacrifice when they worship their ancestors during new year and other festive dates, in order to reward the ancestors and the Lord of the Land. In order not to waste food, they pay great attention to the proper use of livestock. Various parts including internal organs are made into delicacies. The tradition of sacrifice has since transformed over the years to become the present-day eight-course banquet set of "four stewing and four stir-frying".

The so-called "stew" refers to cooking in a large pot and keeping it warm for a long time. The typical "four stews" refer to the four dishes of stewed pork belly with fermented cabbage (or pickled vegetables), stewed pork belly, stewed pork ribs and stewed dried bamboo shoots in fat soup. The stir-fry dishes include leeks with blood (pork belly is also used), fried fungus with pork lung and pineapple, and Hakka fried pork.

Hakka fried pork is the Hakka stir-fry mentioned at the beginning of the article. Authentic Hakka dishes such as this are indispensable. Traditionally, the three livestock sacrifices in the offerings of the Hakka people are chopped chicken, a large piece of pork and a dried squid. When the sacrifice is over, the thrifty Hakka people will take home the sacrifices they have used to worship the gods and mix them with produce from their own vegetable gardens. Green onions are fried into salty, spicy and fragrant side dishes, while the fried meat is served with rice and wine, providing people with enough calories to ensure their physical fitness. That is the reason why authentic Hakka stir fry will never be without three layers of meat, dried squid and shallots.

A seemingly simple Hakka stir-fry not only retains the traditional living habits of the Central Plains, but also reflects the diligent and thrifty personality of the Hakka people who lived on the mountains and made good use of sacrifices after they moved south. No wonder people who have emigrated overseas can savour the taste of their hometown after a bite of stir fry.

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