I could not remember much about Shing Mun Country Park while visiting in 2003, 10 years ago. It was my first trip away from the City to see a country park with a beautiful Dam, Pineapple Dam. I remember not only we enjoy the walk of a trail, but the flora and fauna are rich in this part of Hong Kong.
If you've had enough of the hustle and bustle of the city, this is where you can go to get back to nature. At 958 meters, Tai Mo Shan is the highest mountain in Hong Kong. The surrounding area is a Country Park, which covers an area of 1,440 hectares. It is located in the New Territories north of the city. There are several hiking trails and picnic sites available.
My wife and I took a day tour of the New Territories and this was one of the stops. We went in November so it was quite cool, which we found very refreshing being that we live in the repressive heat of Singapore. Definitely a side of Hong Kong that we did not expect to see!
Hong Kong is always infamous for its highrise and citylife, but it is not the exact view of the SAR. From the map, you can find the urban area is mainly located on the two sides of the harbour, while a huge proportion of the territory has no sign of development. In fact, 75% of Hong Kong remain rural or even undeveloped. Nearly 40% of land in Hong Kong is set to be country parks.
Sai Kung, the eastern part of the New Territories is not only where seafood is available, but where the nature is protected. Birds, butterflies, dragonflies are easily found. There are also some carols along the coast! There is much more to discover at the website of Country and Marine Parks Authority.
On the vibrant Fu Shin street, a little on the side you can see small temple building – Man Mo temple. A diffrent world there, atmosphere filled by haze and quiet, yet so close … only a few steps from the market.
It was built in 1891 by Tsat Yeuk villagers and used to be centre of varios (cultural, economic, worship) activities of Tai Wo Shi (Tai Po Market nowsadays). The temple is dedicated to the God of Literature or Man, and the God of War – Mo.
It was first used as the office for Tsat Yeuk Rural Committee; among other services they provided arbitration service to villagers, to symbolize the spirit of fair trade. Temple achieved special status in Hong kong, being important place for local and oversea worshiper.
It is declared historical monument in 1984, in 1985 followed complete rebuilt and kept traditional style.
Take East rail line (blue) to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau direction. Exit at Tai Po Market or Tai Wo station. Follow the signs for the market.
If you exit at Tai Wo station it is actually shorter walk than from Tai Po Market station and you'll see Fu Shin street accross canal. The temple is somehow in the middle - there are signs.
This market has been called the Tai Po 'new market' because it was moved from the old market site (or Old Tai Po market which farmers got tired of since they had to pay large rents to Tang clan for centuries, although it's not far from its site) in 1892. It takes place on Fu Shin, Yan Hing and Tsing Yuen streets in short distance one from eachother on rather small area (it is much smaller than Mong Kok markets altogether – and less 'touristy' as well).
It is frequented by locals from nearby districts. You can buy fresh fruit, cakes and sweets, meat, fish, snacks, snakes, clothes, fresh vegetables… all that it is being sold here and it comes with traditionally loud and busy atmosphere. Good bargain skills are needed to get okay price, if you want to buy anything.
Take a look to quiet Man Mo temple at Fu Shin road.
Take East rail line (blue) to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau direction. Exit at Tai Po Market or Tai Wo station. There are signs for the place, so it won't be too difficult to find it.
If you exit at Tai Wo station it is actually shorter walk than from Tai Po Market and you will see it after you have crossed Lam Tsuen river (looks like the straightened canal nowsadays).
This heritage trail consists of walled villages or 'wai', shirnes and temples and takes place in quiet quarters behind Fanling. The name Lung Yeuk Tau comes from the mountain range Lung Yeuk Ling or Mountain of Leaping Dragon.
Wall villages were established by Tang clan, and Tangs of Lung Yeuk Tau were one of the highest ranking in New Territories. They were of royal descent. The princess of Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) took refuge in the south and got married to Tang Wai-Kap of Kam Tin. Their oldest son moved later to Fanling area., Lung Yeuk Tau. Here clan prospered and 5 'wais' were established and are still in the place in more or less preserved condition. Add to that six 'tsuen' or villages – with no wall. Wai is of particular interest here as well as very good shape of Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall and little Tin Hau Temple. These five wais are: Lo Wai, Ma Wat Wai, Wing Ning Wai, Tung Kok Wai and San Wai. Please keep in mind that these wais are residental area not a museum and that you may not be allowed to enter certain villages. If you do take a look be discrete. Also not all wais are in good condition and you may also see that of some the only thing that is left is - their wall.
The clans of the area still practice village traditions and rituals and many traditional Chinese buildings still preserve their historic design.
This heritage trail can be done DIY, there are signs on the buildings with short descriptions but you can as well get brochure with more details – from tourism office and Antiquities and Monuments Office.
Take MTR East rail line to Lo Wu direction and exit at Fanling. It takes some 25 minutes walking through town to get on the track. These are signs but some map will help you with orientation. You can also take local bus from here. Bus 54 K takes you from MTR Station – Lung Yeuk Tao by circular route. Bus 56 K rides to Luk Keng.
For a leisurely afternoon out of the city you could head to Plover Cove, where there is a bay, a reservoir, and plenty of walking, cycling and rowing opportunities to be had.
Take the MTR to Tai Po, then bus 75K out to Tai Mei Tuk. this small village on the edge of the reservoir overlooks a handsome bay dotted with islands, and is the starting point for a number of walking trails out into the countryside, all of which can easily be enjoyed in an afternoon.
If walking's not your thing, their are bicycles and funny, car-like tricycle things (or accidents-waiting-to-happen) which will set you back $65/$120 for the whole day. A popular route is to head across the dam separating the Plover Cove reservoir from Tolo Harbour, a very picturesque walk or ride.
If cycling or walking aren't your thing you can hire a boat from one of the dai pai dong cafes - $50 will get you an hour on the harbour to explore at will!
All in all, this is a great way to easily see some of the stunning countryside around Hong Kong, and can be reached in around 30-40mins from Central.
Normally it's hard in Hong Kong to find any sight or historic monument that's older than your Grandad, but right up in the north-western corner of the New Territories is a group of ancient monuments linked together by the Ping Shan Heritage Trail.
This trail runs from just outside Tin Shui Wai MTR station (just past Yuen Long), and links together monuments built by the Tang clan, one of the "five great clans" which occupied the territory from the 12th century onwards. In most other areas these buildings have been flatterned, but here you'll find incredibly well-preserved pagodas, temples and ancestral halls dating back more than 600 years, as well as a 200-year-old walled village which you can explore.
It's all extremely well-preserved, and sits oddly among the drab modern buildings of three new villages right on the cusp of one of the New Territories' famous mammoth New Cities.
You can enter all the buildings along the 1km route and it won't cost you a penny! It takes maybe an hour to walk the route with stops along the way, and good connections by bus and MTR mean you only have to walk the route one way. For a map and more information visit the website link given here to the Antiquities and Monuments office.
an easy walk in the new terrotories. Maclehose trail stage 6. Great scenery, lots of monkeys(by the road begging food unfortunately - to see them in natural surroundings head the opposite way to eagles nature walk - end, stage 5) , and bunkers and underground passageways from the second world war. Ending up at a good place for a bbq if you can be bothered to carry the food and coal with you.
Start at Tai Po Road and finish at Shing Mun reservoir.
Downside - the first half of the walk is on road, and views are likely to poor due to HK's pollution.
Kat Hing Wai may be the only complete walled city in Kam Tin, but hit the back streets and you still come across remnants of the old villages - the occasional meeting hall, homes with ornate exterior corniches. You have to work at finding them - even more so as when I was there in July, a whole site had been cleared ready for development - only the geometric foundations were in evidence along with the gateway feature. Sad, but that's Hong Kong development.
The walled villages of Kam Tin can be easily accessed from Tseun Wan (worth combining with the Sam Tung Uk Museum). Take the #51 bus (from the Nina Tower bus station NOT the bus station next to the Ferry terminal/KCR station) whihch runs every 20-30 minutes. HK$7.60 will take you all the way to Kam Tin (40 minutes) via the Route Twisk and HK's highest peak, Tai Mo Shan (957 metres). It's quite a surprise to climb the twisting lower slopes and then appear over the top, revealing a long, wide valley on the other side and few signs of HK's high rise apartments. The bus rattles on through the military town of Shek Kong and into Kam Tin. The road between the two places seems to be HK's used car centre - hubcap to hubcap of car yards with 2nd hand cars and wreckers yards line the road on both sides.
The walled village of Kat Hing Wai is the most 'complete' of them all - a couple of hundred metres beyond the bus stop. The main entrance is at the far end of the moated walls. The moat is somewhat rubbish strewn and there is a sad neglect to the place, even though people still live within the confines of the walls. Main point, however, is that many of the buildings inside have been built in the last 20-30 years . Nevetheless it's still an interesting place to wander down the incredibly narrow alleys, checking out the corner guardhouses.
With the building of the Nina Tower (tallest building in Hong Kong when completed) and the opening of L'Hotel within the complex, Tseun Wan will not be off the beaten path for long. But for now, the end station of the Tseun Wan line is visited mainly for the Sam Tung Uk Museum.
The town is the ultimate in HK living - the slums of the old villages cleared fo the building of modern apartment block living, schools and sanitation provided. Sadly, the buildings built to replace the slums are now slums themselves. But its interesting in its own right if you want to check out normal living in HK.
Sam Tung Uk Museum is what is left of the old walled village of Sam Tung Uk and then renovated to within a quarter of an inch of its life. Surrounded on all sides by high-rise, the Museum (free entry) is there to provide a perspective on 'how it was'. But the whitewashed, perfectly aligned walls, the open doored rooms leading to various displays is way too clinical to be anywhere near authentic. Displays are mainly photographs and salvaged home use goods. Incredibly disappointing, especially if you have schlepped all the way from Kowloon just to see it.
The Museum is 2 minutes walk from the Tsuen Wan MTR station.
This isn't the most obvious touristic attraction ! But , working in logistics, I wanted to have an idea of what international trade in HK looks like.
Obviously, I was amazed by the size of the area dedicated to container traffic in such a geographical area !
Hong Kong is a leading container port in the world with 9 container terminals recently overtaken by Singapore & Shanghai.
Worth to see if any interest in logistics.
Sai Kung is a great getaway place that is actually not too far from the concrete jungle. It is about a 20-minute bus ride from the MTR Kwun Tong line. The scenery changes quickly to low rises and lots of greens once the bus entered the highway.
Head off to the shore as that is where the action is. You will find lots of fishermen selling their seafood from their boats. You can buy your goodies here and have them cooked your way at a nearby restaurant. I am not sure if the vendors there can speak English though. If they don't, you can still find whatever you like from the fish tanks at the restaurants. You will find all sorts of fresh seafood. You can sit indoor or at the outdoor right by the waterfront walkway.
It is interesting to see the expensive yachts alongside with traditional fishing boats in the harbour.
There are also various islands that you can go to by ferry. We took a side trip to the island of Kiu Jui. The water is very clear and it has a small white sand/stone beach.
There are various bus and mini-bus routes to get there, depending on where you are coming from. Check with the official HK tourism page (below) for the latest info.
Beyond the high-rises of Hong Kong's Kowloon, 60 miles of serene hiking trails—named after one of the territory's last colonial governors, Sir Murray MacLehose—extend across the rural New Territories.
I have the joy of hiking the Maclehose Trail during my stay in Hong Kong in 2002. Not being a vertical person, I question my ssnity in attempting the arduos hikes in what what my Hongkie friends enthusiastically proclaims as the hidden jewels of Hong Kong. I must say that that particular day was one of the most memorable in my life. The sight from the hill top overseeing the reservoir surrounded by hills and mountains was such a sight to behold!
Thanks to the pictures captured, I remember with glee the many funny incidences that took place during the trip...out of which I amusingly recall how my friend Shirene would always abuse Raymond a very brilliant hongkie colleague throughout the trip, the times Shirene and I hung off the rails by the road side at the end of the trip....and many more I would not write in this travelogue today. Looking back, that was the start of my friendship with Shirene and today, 4 years later, we are both planning to get married on the same day in 030207 with much regrets that we will be missing each other's special event. Shirene, thank you for being a good friend and I'm glad we did the Maclehose Trail together!
I look forward to the exploring the Dragon's Trail in Nov 06 with my fiance. I'm sure it will be nothing short of amazing too...hmmm...lovely Hong Kong...