Sha Tau Kok
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The rural town Sha Tau Kok is located besides Starling Inlet, within the Closed Area. The town centre is closer to the sea and north of town is a hill of Yuen Tuen Shan (元墩山). The control point of the access to Shenzhen is located northwest of the hill in Shan Tsui (山咀).
Visiting the closed area
The closed area in Sha Tau Kok is very small and really only applies when you get very close to the border. You are able to walk right up to the China border, although it is advisable to carry your passport or travel document if you are a non HK/China resident.
Don't be put off visiting Sha Tau Kok by the "Frontier Closed Area". The villages are a great insight into rural Hong Kong life and a clear snapshot of past times.
Today, the Hong Kong-controlled Sha Tau Kok is a quiet rural town, part of North District and lies within the Closed Area. It has a post office, a bank, a few shops and a small population. Most of the residents are from Hakka farming or Hoklo (Hokkien) fishing backgrounds. Both farming and fishing have declined in the last few decades, with the younger better educated generation of people being more affluent as they have moved to live and work in more urban areas. The older generations, however, carry on living in some of the villages and government housing complexes in Sha Tau Kok, but during weekends, festivals and holidays, working families return to their villages and roots to spend time with them.
Chung Ying Street lies on the border between mainland China and Hong Kong. There is a perception that it is a notorious point for goods trafficking. When the checkpoint opens a flow of mainlanders enters Chung Ying Street with their visiting permits. Some may make several trips a day acquiring goods and abusing the custom tariff limits on goods. These traffickers then unload their burden to collect their pay inside mainland Shatoujiao. Although there are a lot of goods leaving Hong Kong from Sha Tau Kok via Chung Ying Street there is also an inflow of foodstuffs and other commodities that come through from China into Hong Kong throughout the day, and only limited by the closure of the Chinese custom post.
An influx of mainland China workers flow into Chung Ying Street from 7am when the custom post is opened. Residents from the Chung Ying Street area are free to pass in and out of the Chinese border post, because they have residency passes. Other non-residents must be issued with permits to enter from the Chinese authorities. Tourists are also found visiting Chung Ying Street to buy Western products from Hong Kong first hand, and prices may be higher than within China, but equivalent products found within China are suspected by mainland China residents as not being wholly genuine.
It is now possible to travel conveniently into mainland China's Shatoujiao via the Sha Tau Kok border crossing. Coaches run a regular schedule from Luen Wo Hui (a small town near Fanling, in the New Territories) Bus Terminus, situated near the recently opened Luen Wo Market and Library complex, and from Fanling MTR Station also. Tickets (as of 2005) cost HK$20 for each passenger. The coaches also provide space for luggage. Travellers are taken through the Shek Chung Au (石涌凹) border check point without permit search, and are driven directly to the Sha Tau Kok Immigration checkpoint.
Here, passengers alight, go through customs, and have their documents processed, before reboarding the coach to be driven to the mainland border immigration checkpoint. They alight and take all their belongings through the mainland Chinese customs and again have their documents processed. Travellers from outside China are advised to obtain entry visas from the appropriate authorities, or via a travel agent before attempting the entry. Hong Kong residents of Chinese nationality should hold 'Home Return Permits' (回鄉證) for entry into China.
On 27 January 2005, it was announced that street maps for tourists were put up around Shatoujiao, to aid tourists' navigation. In fact, the Chinese government has strived to promote Sha Tau Kok tourism. A museum situated near the harbour in Chung Ying Street was built to celebrate the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong. It has on display, a history of Sha Tau Kok and its place in the incorporation of territory into British Hong Kong at the end of the 19th century. A bronze Peace Bell was installed nearby.
Sha Tau Kok Chuen (Chinese: 沙頭角邨) is a public housing estate within the Closed Area built to accommodate the residents affected by the clearance in Sha Tau Kok Closed Area. It consists of 51 low-rise blocks completed in 1988, 1989 and 1991, and it is the public housing estate with the most number of blocks in Hong Kong.
The terminus of Sha Tau Kok Railway, which ceased to operate on 1 April 1929 and was replaced by Sha Tau Kok Road, was located here. Sha Tau Kok Railway was built from the original narrow gauge of the KCR British Section, which was replaced by standard gauge. Since that time, the area formerly occupied by the terminus is still called the train station or fo cha teu in the local dialects (火車頭 huochetou). Currently, both KMB and minibus services are available in the Sha Tau Kok area. There are a few shops nearby, and Sha Tau Kok Chuen.
Today, Sha Tau Kok has a bus station which is served by the KMB Route 78K service as well as the smaller sixteen-seater minibus or public light bus service route number 55k. Both begin in Sheung Shui and pass through Luen Wo Hui and terminate in Sha Tau Kok. However, passengers may not proceed through the closed area border check point if they do not carry a valid permit. Police personnel will board the bus at the check point to see each passengers ID Card or identification documents and the required permit. If passengers do not possess one, they will be asked to leave the bus by the police personnel.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sha Tau Kok.|
- A report of Sha Tau Kok on Sing Pao newspaper
- Details of Sha Tau Kok from HK-place.com
- Details of the rural area of Sha Tau Kok from HK-place.com
- PH. Hase: "Eastern Peace: Sha Tau Kok Market in 1925"