There were five major clans which were instrumental in shaping the development and history of the New Territories in Hong Kong. The “Deng” clan in Kam Tin (錦田) area was one of them. The “Man” clan in San Tin （新田）I have written about was another.
In Kam Tin today, there remain quite a number of heritage sites which document the history of the “Deng” clan and hence a part of the history of the New Territories. “Kam Tin Tree House” is one of the sites.The big banyan tree wraps around a very old stone house, which was said to be a temple or a study hall. During the early time of Qing Dynasty, people living along the coast, including those in Kam Tin, were forced to abandon their homes due to an imperial edit on coastal evacuation. Allegedly, the owner of the stone house left and thereafter abandoned the house to the care of the big banyan tree, which has grown to have a crown spread of 38 meters wide. If the story stands, the tree must be more than 340 years old. For the edit was issued in 1666.
The tree was in 2004 put on the list of “Old and Valuable Trees” by Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, for its large size, outstanding form, particularly old age and its cultural or historical significance.
When you are there, you will be struck by a sense of history as elicited by the tree and its form and its intertwining with the remains of the old stone house, which reminds me of the old trees wrapping the temples in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, though I must say perhaps not as majestic and breathtaking as the latter.
I was also struck by an odd feeling. A new playground has been put up just next to the tree house. Wouldn’t the concrete path rid the tree of soil and growth and breathing space it needs? Anyway, this has always been the management style of the authority here, putting up rails and concrete paths in the countryside where they are not really needed, and in fact, wreaking havoc on the nature. This is the photo provided by the government.
Address: by the playground of Shui Mei Tsuen(水尾村）
How to get there:
Get off at Kam Sheung Road MTR station; take exit C; take No. 601 mini bus; get off at Shui Mei Tsuen; or take taxi; only 5-10 min ride from the Kam Sheung Rd station, costing about HK$20.