Lok Ma Chau – Hong Kong’s Most Photographed Man ? | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Lok Ma Chau – Hong Kong’s Most Photographed Man ?

Lok Ma Chau – Hong Kong’s  Most Photographed  Man ?
Lok Ma Chau – Hong Kong’s Most Photographed Man ?, by Chinarail 1966

Lok Ma Chau was for many decades  considered as an essential place to visit on the New Territories ( N.T.)  tourist trail.  Almost every tourist  to Hong Kong , newly arrived residents and visitors would be driven on the circular  loop around the N.T. clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on preference.   This would comprise the Castle Peak coastal road from Kowloon, then going inland passing Ping Shan (with a quick stop to see the Tsui Sing Lau  pagoda ) to the market town of Yuen Long. Here a stop was usual to see the open-fronted shops and perhaps enjoy refreshments or take lunch in a nearby Chinese restaurant. The tourists would then continue northwards  and usually turn off the Castle Peak Road just past San TIn, heading to the Lok Ma Chau Lookout on a small hillock. Visitors would probably have their first  experience of peering across the border into Chairman Mao’s then mysterious “Red China”.

Lok Ma Chau - Map of border region c.1960
Lok Ma Chau Border Region Map c.1960- Extract of Military Map , annotated by Chinarail 

A small modern concrete pagoda- style shelter provided refuge from strong sunshine  or rain. Here one would be greeted by “Lou Baak”  (Old Uncle) and a posse of grandchildren with the youngest girl carrying a yet even younger brother strapped to her back . They would soon make their intentions quite clear ;  “Takee picture one Dollah” as soon as they saw a camera.  On top of this you would be bombarded with offers of rattan fans and bamboo or silk hats, and if you politely declined one would  be pushed on your head and the priced reduced progressively from $10, to $5  or finally $3 for a simple straw hat.

Close up of old farmer - Lok Ma Chau - 1966
Close up of old farmer - Lok Ma Chau - 1966, by Chinarail 


Lok Ma Chau - Small Cantonese girl with baby boy strapped to her back
Lok Ma Chau - Small girl with baby boy strapped to her back , by Chinarail 1966


Lok Ma Chau Viewing Point - Watch your pockets !
Lok Ma Chau Viewing Point - Watch your pockets ! , photo by friend of Chinarail  1966

A retired police friend of mine, who during that era was posted to the Frontier Division told me this family came from the nearby village of Ha Wan Tsuen below the hill. Lok Ma Chau  police station was a little higher up the road from the Lookout Point. I’m not sure if he was joking when he claimed the police tolerated this slight harassment of tourists because one of the older boys would run up the hill and warn the officers inside if a police jeep was seen approaching because this might be conveying a senior officer on a surprise inspection visit. This would allow  just enough time to quickly tidy up the station report room , hide any empty San Miguel bottles  and make sure the constables had put the mah-jong tiles away.

In the photo above, (taken in 1966) ‘Chinarail’ is struggling to set up his then brand new Canon Zoom 518 Super8 cine camera with a detachable telephoto lens. When assembled, in order to keep the heavy camera steady, it required mounting on a sturdy tripod which one of his friends can be observed setting on the left of the photo.  While doing this I had a silk cap thrust onto my head followed by “Ten Dollah’’….  by the boy, while his sister pointed her hand towards the still camera my other friend was holding  as he too, was assailed for ‘One Dollah”. I seem to recall they got their dollar but I never bought that hat.

Lok Ma Chau Lookout - Close up of girl pointing at Chinarail's Camera

Having got my cine-camera gear up and running,  I then filmed the duck farm ponds and across the Shum Chum River. In the distance is a cluster of buildings can be seen which I suggest was Futian  (“ Fuk-Tien” ) village.


Canon Zoom 518 Super 8 Cine Camera from 1960s
Canon Zoom 518 Super 8 Cine Camera from 1960s, by Chinarail-Internet-download-(public domain)

Above is the type of cine camera used by Chinarail on that day in 1966. Still available as collectors items from used camera  dealers. 


Lok-Ma-Chau - Lookout - The View Today  ( 2019)
Lok-Ma-Chau - Lookout - The View Today ( 2019) , by Website download photo ( public domain) from Google maps

This cine film has survived.  I have over one hour’s worth  of Hong Kong scenes taken 1966-1967. Regrettably  the image quality of  old 8mm cine film is badly wanting but as they say : “Ho gwoh mo” (better than nothing). The HK police clips which I took were posted on YouTube some years ago and one segment has already been viewed 45,000 times. The remainder of this film is still waiting. Some years ago, it was transferred from cine film images to VHS video tapes. This caused some lack of clarity. Just recently this has been converted to digitized images which I now have saved on my PC. Step by step, I plan to split this up and post the short sections on YouTube.

If you want to see the cine film taken that day in the images above , CLICK HERE  ( there is no sound) on this YouTube link.