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Mui Wo (Chinese: 梅窩, Jyutping: mui4 wo1, Pinyin: Méiwō, lit. "plum nest") is a rural town on the eastern coast of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. The 2011 Census recorded 5,485 people living in Mui Wo and its environs. The main beach in Mui Wo is known as Silver Mine Bay Beach (銀鑛灣泳灘). The town is well known for the feral water buffalos and cows that roam the area.
The recorded history of Mui Wo dates back to the last days of the Southern Song Dynasty. Fleeing south from the invading Mongols, in 1277 the imperial court sought refuge in Silvermine Bay (at that time known as Mei Yu or 梅蔚). In March 1278, whilst attempting a further escape from the Mongols, the penultimate Song Dynasty Emperor Duanzong fell from a boat and almost drowned. After his rescue, he became ill and died a few months later at Mui Wo. Duanzong's successor, Emperor Huizong of Song was enthroned at Mui Wo on 10 May 1278.
Mui Wo is located on Silvermine Bay, so named for the silver mines that were once worked along the Silver River (銀河) which flows through the village.
Prior to the Airport Core Programme and the subsequent development of Tung Chung and North Lantau into a new town, Mui Wo was the principal point for day-trippers setting out to explore Lantau Island. Today, it is still the principal way of reaching South Lantau – from the beaches in Cheung Sha to the fishing village of Tai O and the Tian Tan Buddha. With the opening of Ngong Ping 360 and the new, smoother Tung Chung Road, this may change.
A silver and lead mine, close to the settlement of Pak Ngan Heung and Sivermine Waterfall, formally opened in March 1886. It had closed by the time China leased the New Territories to Britain in 1898. The main entrance is now called Silvermine Cave. People can only enter the first ten metres or so as the rest of the tunnels have been blocked off for safety reasons, and to prevent disturbance to the rare species of bats who live there.
19–27 August 1945: Mui Wo massacre
Japanese soldiers killed at least nine people and arrested 300 Mui Wo villagers in the weeks after Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, ending the Second World War. Many victims were beaten and tortured. Some were beheaded.
Twelve Japanese soldiers who took part in the massacre were convicted of war crimes in 1946, and three of them hanged. The rest were sentenced to between two and ten years in jail.
In their defence, the Japanese soldiers said they had been responding to a guerrilla attack after Japan's capitulation. Their actions were to maintain law and order until they could formally surrender to Allied forces. The judge rejected their arguments as he said the Mui Wo residents were not responsible for the guerrillas' actions.
Nearby attractions include Silver Mine Bay Beach, Silver Mine Waterfall and a temple dedicated to Man Mo, originally built during the reign of Wanli, emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1573–1620). There is a small local museum with old photos of Mui Wo and rural artefacts located behind the Silvermine Bay Resort Hotel, this is only open on Wed, Sat and Sun afternoons.
Silver Mine Bay Beach
The beach is one of the five gazetted beaches on Lantau. Leisure and Cultural Services Department life guards patrol it and there is a shark net to protect swimmers April through October. There were 69,580 visitors during the seven-month-long official bathing season in 2012—an average of 201 on weekdays and 461 on weekends and public holidays. There were 4,550 visitors on the busiest day, and 16,900 during the busiest month.
Buses operate from Mui Wo to other places on Lantau, including Tung Chung (3M) and thus Hong Kong Airport (A35) and the rail network. The major road South Lantau Road begins with Mui Wo and ends in Tai O, with Tung Chung Road branching from Cheung Sha to Tung Chung.
The South Lantau and Tung Chung Roads connect Mui Wo to the rest of Hong Kong's road network. They are closed to private vehicles but local residents and businesses can apply for permits to use them.
Numerous hiking trails lead from Mui Wo to other parts of the island. The long hiking trail on the island, Lantau Trail, starts from Mui Wo. A much-frequented route leads north-east from Mui Wo to Discovery Bay via a pagoda, the Trappist Haven Monastery, and then either up the mountain via the Discovery Bay golf course or by the ocean via Nim Shue Wan.
Heung Yee Kuk New Territories South District Secondary School
Closed in 2007. In 2009, residents protested against and blocked a plan for a rehabilitation centre for drug offenders—the Christian Zheng Sheng College—to take over the site. There is a campaign to reopen the school for local students, but the school was still empty in July 2013.
Mui Wo Primary School The school celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2009.
- 2011 Population Census – Fact Sheet for Tertiary Planning Units 961 – 962, http://www.census2011.gov.hk/en/district-profiles/tpu/tpu961.html Accessed 24 June 2013. NB The census takers combine statistics for Mui Wo (Tertiary Planning Unit 962) with the sparsely populated area to the north and northwest (TPU 961) that includes Tai Ho
- Sacramento Daily Union, 29 April 1886, page 2
- Hongkong Government Gazette, 8 April 1899, Appendix No. 2, Report on the Geology of the New Territory by Mr. Ormsby
- Written reply from the then-Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, to a question from a Legislative Council member, Cheung Hok-ming: "LCQ15: Improvement works in Mui Wo", 4 March 2009, http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200903/04/P200903040157.htm, accessed 8 July 2013
- Hong Kong's War Crimes Trials Collection Website, compiled by Suzannah Linton and Hong Kong University Libraries. http://hkwctc.lib.hku.hk/exhibits/show/hkwctc/documents/item/58 Accessed 24 June 2013.
- UK National Archives reference: WO235/993.
- Exploring Islands. Man Mo Temple, Mui Wo.
- Beach Water Quality in Hong Kong, 2012, http://www.beachwq.gov.hk/UpFile/en/bwq_report2012.pdf, accessed 28 June 2013.
- Transport Department , Lantau Closed Road Permit, http://www.td.gov.hk/en/public_services/licences_and_permits/lantau_closed_road_permit/ Accessed 24 June 2013
- Chairman's Report, 2012 AGM – Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps, http://www.aircadets.org.hk/web/form/Chairman's%20Report%20AGM%202012(2).pdf
- Siu, Beatrice (11 June 2009). "Mui Wo rejects drug school move". The Standard.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mui Wo.|
- Lantau Buffalo Association
- Discovery Bay to Nim Shue Wan Hike – Travel Blog
- The Toilet Bar, a blog by local resident and cartoonist Larry Feign.
- Mui Wo and Me, a blog by a resident using the pseudonym 'Lantau Waterbuffalo'.
- MW8 and MKT, a blog by a resident family who live and work in Mui Wo and Man Kok Tsui.
- Mui Wo, a ghost town another blog, by a resident of Hong Kong island