Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
22° 16' N 114° 9' E
Feb 19, 2010 02:02
Distance 1416km

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And Back Again

Beginning in January, we started the Lantau Trail.  This trail has 12 stages and is 70 K long.  Lantau Island is the largest of the many (260+) islands of Hong Kong, larger than even Hong Kong Island itself.  Lantau Island is mostly uninhabited as it is very mountainous and has limited areas that are even remotely flat.  This is perfect for hiking and outdoor activities, during our many hikes were rarely saw anyone.  This hike is significantly more challenging that the Hong Kong Island Trail, it has some serious peaks and many up and down hills and valleys. And some very long legs where you are committed to finishing as there is not getting off point.

You can get to Lantau Island either by ferry from Central (30 to 45 minutes depending on whether fast or slow ferry, cost $3 or $4 Cdn) or by transit (30 minutes).  Taking the ferry is much more interesting.  On sunny days, for an extra $1 you can go to the first class area and sit outside.   Only those living on Lantau Island (45,000 population) are permitted to have cars so the buses on the island for frequent and convenient.

The weather in January and February was moderate, many sunny days in January.  While we were gone in February temperature went as low as 10 degrees.  March and April were pleasant (high teens and low 20’s). May is the start of the rainy and humid season.  Throughout the entire winter and spring I only used my umbrella twice.

Work is going well, a little under-employed.  Teaching 4 hours a week (yes 4 hours a week)! Would like to be busier, doing a lot of student mentoring and some admin as I am now an assistant program leader.

Between longer weekends (when we get out of Hong Kong and travel to  the Philippines or parts of China) we stay in town and go hiking or stay in the flat.  Life is grand.

And married life does agree with both Jane and I.

Photos / videos of "And Back Again":

Starting the hike.  This is the start of the first stage of twelve.  Generally we did two stages each time.  The hike is 70 K long.  The start of the first leg it is up-up-up to 900 metres, not an easy way to start your day. What you see below is HK's new (1997) airport (Chek Lap Kok Airport).  They levelled and filling in the sea to make an island.  Extremely efficient and large airport.   In the distance is Sunset Peak, 869 Metres.  Above about 500 metres the vegetation disappears and all there there is is brush and grass.  Was a good hiking day, sunny and low 20's. We are now higher and looking down towards the east end of Lantau Island.  This island is larger than Hong Kong Island itself.  By HK standards you do not get less air polution than this. Next peak (and another day) after Sunset Peak is Lantau Peak, 934 metre.  We still had to go higher for Sunset Peak and then head down to about 400 metres.  A very challenging first day on the  Lantau Trial. Wow, why you go hiking, the sky does not get bluer than this.  Howerver for us this was a mixed blessing as we had to climb to that peak ahead still. The next hiking day.  We decided to do another part of the trail and avoid Lantau Peak for another day.  Is mid-January, what a beautiful day it was. Making my own waves.  Buddist shrine along the trail.  On a beach somewhat in the middle of no-where. View from the porch of the Buddist shrine/temple. Enough beaches, time to get serious and do some elevation. We only got to 130 metres elevation, but did so several times, up-down-up-down.  One of the many coves on Lantau Island.  Many of these bays can only be reached by trail or boat. What you see along the way.  The water buffalos ignore you and you are advised to not bother them.  Not sure whether wild or someone owns them, but they wonder around freely on Lantau Island. In the distance is Cheung Chau Island.  You can wander around that island in 4 hours, a wonderful way to send a day.  Take a 30 minute ferry from Central and you are in another place and world.  No cars (other than police) on this island. On our third day of hiking we climbed to the top of Lantau Peak (934 metres).  It was a foggy day so no photos.  I am sure there would be a spectular views from the top but one could only see 10 metres in front of you.  And it was very cold and windy, so we just carried on as quickly as possible The next day's hike starts at Ngong Ping and the Po Lin Monastery.  This monastry was buily in 1903 (not old by any standard).  The Po Lin Monastry is famous for it's Big Buddha.  The statue was built in 1993. It one of the largest outdoor Buddha's in the world, towerng 34 metres above you. On a clear day you can see it from the back side of the Peak. Around the Big Buddha are six smaller bronze statues.  In the background is Lantau Peak, where we were the week before in the fog. Lantau Peak again.  Po in monastry is a marvelous site to visit.  Can get there by boat/bus or transit and gondula. Looking up from the base of the Big Buddha. 268 steps up or down.  Foreign tourists in their luxury buses can get to the top by a road around the back.  Getting there other than by foot takes away from the mystique of the monastry. Buddhist monks doing the rounds.  They even blessed and chanted at the Coke vending machines.  The BB in the distance.  There is an active and thriving monastry here, part of which you see in the foreground.  HK at its root is a Buddhist society with Christian and other window dressings.  The Big Buddha is huge, it is quiet impressive to see.  Most Buddhas you see are in temples and covered, awesome to see one outside and surrounded with trees and nature.  Remember the BB is 34 metres (103 ft) tall and on a three story base and up 268 steps. Starting the next leg of the hike.  Unfortuantely we took a wrong turn and ended up hiking for hours but not on Lantau trail.  The poles in the foreground have Chinese Buddhist saying on them. The end of the trail down from Lantau Peak.  The week before we came thru this gate in the fog.  Should have turned left but we turned right when we started this new hike.  It worked out OK, just our map instructions after a while not make sense. The Buddhist poles.  Often you wish you could read Chinese, you sure miss out a lot because of language challenges. Tai O.  We hiked for anothe day but will spare you the photos.  More of the same.  The next leg, a very long one starts at Tai O.  This is a traditional fishing village.  It is on stilts right over the water.  Throw back to another century and era.  Started the day by touring the town. Bird.  Top of one of the temples in Tai O.  Very detailed ceramic statues. This is an active community.  Started in 1699.  This tidal moat in the main roadway for this fishing town. Behind the town of Tai O.  In the distance you can see evidence of a landside. Tidal marsh near Tai O with mangrove trees.  Mangroves are one of the few trees in the world that can survive in salt water. More of the homes on stilts.  In 2000 there was a fire here, it distroyed many of the homes.  No firetrucks are here. Foot brdige (one of two) crossing the creek which runs into/thru Tai O. Back on the trail. This part of the trail goes thru disputed private property.  Consequenctly it is not well marked or maintained.  We thought we were lost but recognized this stone wall from photos in our hiking book.  This is thick jungle and heavy undergrowth. The path, no hills for a change. View along the way. Very private beach. To get here you have to hike at least 1 1/2 hours.  Some, not many, Hong Kongers go camping.  Boundless opportunities for overnight stays in desserted hide away places if you are thus inclined. Abandoned beach front villa along the way. Another hill and beach setting.  Other side of the same hill.  Note, the sequence of hills, jungle, beaches, flat paths, peaks and views continued for miles and days.  We did finish the hike in 7 stages over about 3 months.