Adventures in East Asia

Bananas, housing and vegetable plots in the New Territories

Living in the New Territories, which is mostly countryside, means bananas in your back yard. Check out this large bunch of beauties my mother picked up!


Since Hong Kong is tropical and there is space in the NT, inhabitants can nurture all kinds of fruit and vegetables, most of which will not grow in the UK.

In fact, around a decade ago, our village, Ting Kok, was far less populated, and our grandparents house (next door to our current family home) was surrounded by vegetation plots, from which my late grand mother would grow bananas, sugar cane, and all kinds of lettuce, cabbage and greens.

Housing development

Nowadays, wherever there is a large enough plot of land for a house, planning permission is usually sought and once given, it is quickly developed on. The typical plot limits allow developers to maximise the space for a three storey building, capable of housing two-three bedroom, self contained flats on each level.

Our house is built with three separate self-contained floors. This is simply the most practical layout since it allows each floor to be rented out if required.

Planning permission

Planning permission is usually sought by village people (males, who can only be granted once) either residents who can afford to build a property or relatives who have moved abroad to make a more lucrative living and who return to apply.

Developments are carried out on a house by house basis, so unlike complete estates being created in the UK, the village has grown and become denser, sometimes in an unorganised fashion.

This means that some houses are right next to each other with a couple of feet between them, whereas others have lots of space, enough to fence off their own courtyard for gardening or parking cars.

Because of the nature of housing growth, most of the plots which have more space are usually shaped in an irregular fashion, rather than in neat rectangles.

House number allocation

The numbering of houses are also applied in the order that they were built, so across the village, there is no easy way to find a particular number.

This is particularly frustrating for delivery personnel, who aside from having to find properties, may also have to contend with awkward to reach, irregularly shaped plots. A nightmare for deliverers of large goods!

Vegetation plots

Around the village, there are often plots of land which aren't being developed on. Reasons can range from the owners not being ready to develop, to the rights to the land still being under discussion.

Nevertheless, if current owners allow it, the plots can temporarily be used to grow vegetables - more constructive than encouraging disuse and possible dumping of rubbish.


These plots are usually utilised by workers around the village who know the owners, and who will benefit from the use of the land. They'll be able grow their own greens to both eat and sell, whilst the owners know that their plot is being looked after.

This entry posted in : Culture. Hong Kong. New Territories.

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