Monday, 4 January 2021

hidden history #5

When we moved to our present house, in a village east of Fanling, in 2008, it didn’t take me long to notice ‘something’ near the top a hill to the northeast that was visible from our balcony. I took this photo in November 2008:
At the time, I merely assumed that it was a more than usually elaborate grave. After all, there are probably thousands of graves on the hillsides of the New Territories, like these two, located only a little further west on the same ridge:
A few years later, after it appeared to have been repainted and stood out more clearly, I decided to look at this feature through binoculars and thought that it appeared to be a British Army regimental crest. One of these days, I thought, we should go up and take a closer look. However, there were other things that took priority, notably cycling, and it wasn’t until last Saturday—it was too cold for cycling—that we finally got around to taking that closer look.

We already knew that there was a military road running along the ridge, because we’d walked along the western section several times when we first moved here. I even tried cycling along it a few years ago, starting at the western end, but I gave up after the first three hills (Military Madness), for reasons that will be obvious when you look at these photos, which I took on Saturday:
Obviously, this is just an impression, but the maximum gradients are probably close to 40 percent. You feel as though you can reach out and touch the road in front of you as you walk up some of these hills.

Following our roller-coaster walk, the final approach to our objective was merely gentle undulations:
Unfortunately, it proved to be impossible to photograph the entire feature from the narrow angles that were available. These are two shots taken by Paula, first from the bottom:
…and then from the top:
Almost all of what you can see in the valley in the second picture is what was known as Gallipoli Lines in British Army days but is now occupied by the PLA, our noisy neighbours.

This is the best I could manage, a shot from the left-hand side:
The entire feature is a 7–8-metre square, turned through 45 degrees so that opposite corners are at the top and bottom. It does look like a badge or crest of some kind, and the two dragons suggest a Welsh regiment. However, when I googled the first two words of the motto at the bottom—I couldn’t have seen the rest unless I’d scrambled up the right-hand side—I learned that it is in fact the motto of the Royal Hong Kong Regiment, which was disbanded in 1995 in the run-up to the handover of Britain’s former colony to China two years later. I guess that the site is still being maintained by former members of the regiment, and I wonder what the reaction of the PLA would be to being overlooked by the badge of an outfit that once considered itself nulli secundus in oriente (‘second to none in the orient’)!

Having ventured much further east than we’d ever done previously, we thought that we might as well continue east and see where it returns to street level. I’d already guessed that it was at a steep incline leading off a road that we follow on the ‘final frontier’ bike ride. And I was right!

As is the case when accessing this road from the west, there is a long and I imagine comparably painful climb to start with:
I had hoped that we might come across some kind of plaque or tablet that provided information as to when this road was built, and for what purpose, but we couldn’t find anything. However, there is a gate:
There isn’t a gate of any kind at the western end of this road, and I can’t imagine that this one has been closed for decades.

other posts in this series
Hidden History.
Hidden History #2.
Hidden History #3.
Hidden History #4.

2 comments:

  1. it is certainly worthwhile to pay a visit!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Next time though, we’ll start from the western end rather than follow that horrendous path!!!

      Delete

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