Tuen Mun Town Hall Photo: Venice Lai

What would attract 11,000 likes on a Hong Kong Facebook page? Kittens being rescued, dogs doing silly things or photoshopped images of buffalos and cows. If you guessed the last answer you would be correct.

But why? Well, Venice Lai So-ting, a journalism student at Chinese University of Hong Kong decided to post the images on her Facebook page to see whether her fellow Tuen Mun residents felt the same as she did – that outsiders misunderstood the district in New Territories West.

People who rarely visited Tuen Mun tended to believe that the district remained a rural place with cows and buffaloes on the streets, which was not true at all, she told Apple Daily. 

Most urbanites also do not realize that Tuen Mun has a population of 480,000, about 7% of the city’s total of 7 million.

Lai, who grew up in Tuen Mun, was surprised to find how much her images – which was a photography assignment she had just completed to show how she could use the software – struck a chord with her fellow residents. As of 6pm, the pictures on her Facebook page had 11,000 likes in one day.

Tuen Mun students would feel bad when they were labelled as second-class learners, she told the daily. Whenever they were asked by outsiders whether there were cows in the district, they would joke that they were living happily with the animals, she said.

Tuen Mun is one of the 18 districts in Hong Kong and it is a 30-minute drive to Mong Kok in Kowloon.

In Hong Kong, cows and buffaloes can only be seen in Pui O on Lantau Island or in Yuen Long, New Territories West, and Sai Kung in New Territories East.

Lai also emphasized that the pictures of people riding cows or buffaloes were not aimed at encouraging people to do this because it is an offense under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance.

A photoshopped picture of a student riding a cow to school. Photo: Venice Lai
A buffalo crosses the road with a Tuen Mun resident in a fake photo. Photo: Venice Lai
Tuen Mun residents riding buffalo to work in a photoshopped image. Photo: Venice Lai