A Walk into Hong Kong old times: Revitalisation Experience@Jao Tsung-I Academy 大隐隐于香港市，历史建筑饶宗颐文化馆和文化旅馆翠雅山房
Take a stroll in the streets of Hong Kong and we can find history left many its footprints: from historical sites to old buildings in all sorts of styles reflecting the old times, as if each has a story to tell. The legacy of these sites are well kept through “Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme” imposed by Hong Kong Government to enhance the awareness about the importance of historic heritages through conserving and redeveloping historic buildings into good use.
Located on a hillside at Lai Chi Kok, Jao Tsung-I Academy was formerly a hospital compound. The site was used as a seaside customs station at the end of the 19th century. In the many years followed, the site has been served as a quarantine station, a prison, an infectious disease hospital and a psychiatric rehabitation center before it was closed in 2004 and left vacant until Professor Jao Tsung-I, a world-renowned scholar on sinology, selected the site for revitalization. Today the Academy serves as a cultural hub to facilitate cultural exchanges and contribute to the society in need.
This is a good place to learn about the colonial past of Hong Kong, especially with buildings from the late 1930s. The complex has witness the colonial past and the changes that Hong Kong is undergoing in recent years.
The management has felicitously divided the complex into three different zones. The lower zones include the main entrance, an Art Gallery and Museum where visitors can have a glimpse of the past development of the complex and how it has evolved into the face today.
You can either choose to walk along the stone steps, or take the elevator to reach middle zone. It's also a location where functions rooms are situated, visitors can book them for their personal events.
The two red brick houses in the Low Zone are The Gallery and the Heritage Hall displaying the history of revitalizing the site and the legacy of Professor Jao Tsung-I. A pond of lotus flowers sprouts between the red-brick houses; entitled The Pond “Light and Shadow”, the pond clearly mirrors the blue sky and the serenity of the surroundings.
The Upper zone has been designated for a Heritage Lodge, this Lodge welcomes visitors from all over the world to stay in. Each and every room of the lodge has been carefully refurbished with modernised oriental design, you will be indulged in classical oriental style during your stay. Their room rate is also quite reasonable, the standard suite only cost HK$700 per night (peak season may vary, accurate room rate should refer to their official webpage.
Although the lodge seems good to go, the location of the lodge makes it difficult for first-time traveller of Hong Kong to get in and out of their rooms. They provide free shuttle bus service for guest and the public every 15 minutes to the Cheung Sha Wan MTR station.
The Heritage Lodge is part of the Jao Tsung-I Academy revitalization project to promote Chinese culture and cultural exchanges.The location is perfect for finding some tranquility and peace in the middle of the bustling city. The interior is sleek and simplistic reflecting the traditional Chinese philosophy of harmony. It’s a wonderful place to relax and breathe in a fresh breeze.
There is also a restaurant where you can enjoy a cup of tea when you feel tired in the midst of visit. This restaurant set apart from the other restaurant in Hong Kong as it's a social enterprise. You won't find any teenage or young waiters, instead they hire those elder who are retired and have worked in the catering service sector or other sector before they retire. This restaurant is a social enterprise which provide job opportunities for the elder and encourage them to work and meet new friends in the restaurant workplace. You shouldn't miss out such a meaningful cause, stop by and patronise them for a meal or drink.
Professor Jao Tsung-I passed away in February 2018 at the old age of 101. The death of Professor Jao is a great loss to academia and the Chinese community around the world. Revered as one of the most erudite sinologists of our era, the centenarian has left behind a lifetime of influence in a wide range of academic and artistic fields. His remarkable achievements in academia and arts and his contributions towards promoting traditional Chinese culture have won my deepest respect.
What set the versatile scholar apart from others is the fact that he had received no formal university education. Driven by a quest for knowledge, a younger Jao immersed himself in books of different kinds. He began with the study of the county records of his hometown, before widening to archaeology, literature, opera, ceramics and so on. His advice on learning was simple and yet practical. It was important to pursue a wide range of interests without any limits from the start. By making a modest start, one could move on to other relevant fields; make connections and develop insights.
Professor Jao’s success was guided by his motto – seek the truth, seek the standard and seek the justness. Sadly, such principles may not resonate with Chinese souls today, who tend to care more about instant fame and success rather than holistic knowledge and commitment. Amid growing distortion in values and behaviour nowadays, the renaissance of legitimate traditional values and morals is just as important. His words of wisdom are food for thought for our generation and those to come.