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HK's New Territories shrunk into the palm of your hand

Photo-journalist and designer David Sutton takes a break from a lava shower on a heaving boat beneath Anak Krakatoa in Indonesia to pen a wonderful guide to Hong Kong's uncharted New Territories.

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David Sutton strolls through the Hong Kong countryside he loves - photo: Vijay Verghese

David Sutton strolls through the countryside he loves and has come to know so intimately. At Kam Tin (above), he stops to view organic gardens and has a bite at the Red Brick House Market / photos: Vijay Verghese

THE one part of Hong Kong no one ever gets to see is its vast New Territories, a stunning tract of hill rangtes, farmland and ancient villages to the far north, bordering China. Few realise that ancient Chinese clans like the Tangs (one of five) moved here almost a thousand years ago to build sturdy walled settlements, ancestral halls, and temples (many still standing).

Photojournalist, explorer, writer, designer and man of many talents, David Sutton (themangoroad.com/), left England to arrive in Hong Kong in 1986, saying farewell to fog, cold, and boiled vegetables. He has never looked back. His latest epic - 'Exploring Hong Kong's New Territories' - involved more shoe leather and sweat than most journalists or 'influencers' might care for. He sought the right light and the right angles, lugging his trusty Canon, a complement of lenses, and voluminous scribbles, across those far pavilions.

This was completely uncharted territory Sutton found as he scratched around, finally getting a start with "a trove of PDFs I found on an old version of the Antiquities and Monuments Office website."

During the annual Dragon Boat festival, colourful processions pass through village waterways - photo: David Sutton

During the annual Dragon Boat festival, colourful processions pass through village waterways while the races themselves take place in the surrounding bays. / photo: David Sutton

He dug into books, obscure sites and histories (a personal passion) and peered at bas-relief on temple lintels, joining the dots. The end result is a delightful distillation of all this prodigious research into a beautifully photographed, written and designed guide that should be a must for anyone who loves Hong Kong or wishes to get to know it better.

It is a handsome production. The subject is broken down into bite-size morsels with fun insights, informative captions, and maps. Find out who the original Big Five Clans were and get on a first name basis with Gods and Goddeses.

If you ever meet the very understated and self-effacing author, do ask about his night on a small boat next to the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano. All night the lava showers came down, fortunately on the other side of the island where the boat had been initially moored. Then it was a perilous return to the mainland on very choppy seas. "We didn't sleep all night," says Sutton, with a hint of a smile.- Vijay Verghese/ December 2023

Old village mansion at Tai Kong Po - photo: David Sutton

An old village mansion at Tai Kong Po.This was built in the 1920s by Wong Hin-ting, a Hakka who had originally come from Guangxi province. He became a successful farmer./ photo: David Sutton

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