The Frontier Closed Area

Recenty, I have added one more check mark to my bucket list — which is not publishable, for there’s stuff that some people may disapprove of 🙂 BUT. One thing that the HK government would disapprove of is the fact that yesterday I went to the Frontier Closed Area without a permit. And without swimming either…

The Frontier Closed Area is a strip of land in HK, along the border with Shenzhen, which is closed off to regular folks. Only residents and farmers, along with people with a “legitimate” reason to go (like people working in the border duty free shops, the MTR station, etc; families of residents; etc etc), are allowed to go. The trains station in Lowu and Lok Ma Chau, for instance, are inside the FCA. In Lowu, you can see stairs going down, right after the exit from the MTR, with cops guarding access to it. These stairs go to the Lowu area of the FCA.

If you have family inside the FCA, you might be able to get a permit, to visit your relatives. In the Sheung Shui Police Station, in Fanling, you can apply for a temporary permit, and some tourists may even get one, if someone in the village you want to visit signs the application for you. Good luck with that though. The FCA has been getting slimmer and slimmer, and many Hongkies would love to buy real estate there for it’s cheap and bound to rise in value when the FCA gets further reduced. So the government tries to keep influx of newcomers down…

Yesterday I went to have dinner with some mates. We were supposed to go to a friend’s in Taipo. Nopesies. Dude asks us to come to Sheung Shui, and he’d pick us up. He’s a very laconic dude and he just said “We’ll have dinner at my parents’ place.” Ok Sir, thanks.

I check out the road we’re driving on, it’s going north. “Dude, looks like we’re in the FCA! That’s what the sign says! Don’t we need a permit?”. Just then he takes a quick right, up a hill, and down an unpaved path. “Yes. My house is near the river. We’re taking a shortcut.” And by shortcut he meant a smuggler’s detour in and out of the FCA. Apparently, 30 years ago, Chinese people walked across the river around there, went uphill and downhill to Sheung Shui. And the locals apparently still use this path to bring in guests without the inconvenience of applying for a permit.

We had a great dinner, and walked around the place. So quiet. A few hundred meters away the “civilization” of Shenzhen. Dozens of cats running around. A big dog that barked a lot, but offered its paw as soon as you approached it. Guard dog my ass.

We left the way we came. Didn’t see a checkpoint, a cop or anything. I felt like a righteous bandit… 🙂


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