When you consider vacationing in Hong Kong, you most likely don’t consider climbing mountains.
Perhaps you must. The wilder, untamed facet of Hong Kong is a far cry from the neon-lit metal and glass of its world-famous skyline. Here, lush forest takes the place of commercial concrete, and the roar of site visitors fades away to the chirping of cicadas and the whisper of the ocean breeze. It’s no surprise mountaineering is such a well-liked pastime in Hong Kong — it provides a much-needed alternative to get away from the crush of metropolis life.
Of the 4 main mountaineering trails in Hong Kong, the MacLehose path is the longest at 100km. It begins in Kowloon and spans everything of the New Territories, from japanese Sai Kung to Tuen Mun within the west, and weaves its means via eight totally different nation parks.
The MacLehose path was named after the 25th and longest-serving governor of Hong Kong below British rule, Murray MacLehose. An enthusiastic hiker, MacLehose established the Country Parks, which cowl greater than 400 sq. kilometres of the Hong Kong countryside for the needs of conservation and recreation.
I not too long ago had the chance to hike a portion of the eighth part of the MacLehose path, which leads hikers to Hong Kong’s highest peak: the 957-metre Tai Mo Shan. The 9.7km path takes round 4 hours. I used to be accompanied by Content Lab’s chief photographer, Chong Jun Liang, and our information, Zelo Dai, a neighborhood in his 50s who appeared to be manufactured from nothing however whipcord muscle.
Zelo had informed us that it could be remiss of us to make the trek up Tai Mo Shan and never attempt the legendary dim sum at Duen Kee Tea House, situated within the village of Chuen Lung. A 15-minute bus experience from Tsuen Wan, Duen Kee is a favorite with hikers and locals alike. Many cease at its premises for a breakfast of siew mai and har gow earlier than making the arduous trek up the mountain — some as early as 6am.
The constructing itself is a remarkably untouched relic that also captures the genuine 1950s teahouse really feel. Painted in pale yellow, its two-story premises are surrounded by a mess of multi-coloured umbrellas, below which we took shelter from the drizzle. Though it was gone lunch, there have been nonetheless a number of hikers huddled inside, sipping tea as they waited for the rain to subside.
As are most conventional Hong Kong teahouses, Duen Kee is a self-service restaurant; there are not any waiters to take your order. You have to take meals your self from a chosen nook piled excessive with conventional bamboo steamer baskets. The complete course of is like enjoying dim sum roulette — you solely discover out what’s in your steamer till you’re taking the lid off the steamer, revealing the treasure inside.
It was a mistake, looking back, to let Zelo select the dishes for us. When he was executed, the desk had taken on a distinctly convex form, creaking below the load of har gow, siew mai, chee cheong enjoyable, and an assortment of others that even my formidable dim sum data couldn’t determine.
When the desk was plagued by now empty steamer baskets, we made our means — albeit very slowly — again to the automotive, which we took to the Tai Mo Shan Visitors’ Centre. There, guests can study extra concerning the historical past and wildlife of the mountain, in addition to get some helpful data just like the climate circumstances or hearth danger scores.
When we had been executed, we set off in the direction of Tai Mo Shan, up a steep set of stairs reduce into the mountainside. Jun Liang and I struggled with each step, an excessive amount of dim sum in our stomachs and an excessive amount of digital camera gear on our backs, whereas Zelo deftly made his means up the mountain, nimble as a deer. I used to be beginning to doubt that he was really as previous as he mentioned he was.
In his college days, Zelo knowledgeable us, he and his mates used to come to Tai Mo Shan to have barbecues and events. The mountain stays a well-liked spot to take action — there are designated leisure areas and barbecue pits for guests to make use of — however solely exterior the summer time season, when the hearth danger is decrease.
Mercifully, the bottom started to degree out as we received larger. Bit by bit, the foliage cleared, and we stepped out of the forest into open sky. From there, it was a brief stroll to the northern Tai Mo Shan lookout level, the place the entire of Kowloon sprawled out beneath us.
A pair of black kites, Hong Kong’s iconic birds of prey, soared excessive above, tracing lazy circles within the air. I amused myself by imagining that they, too, had been made sluggish by no matter snack that they had consumed.
This was a Hong Kong not like any that I had ever skilled earlier than. I used to be so used to the push of human site visitors in Tsim Sha Tsui and Central, that solely the shimmering buildings of Tsuen Wan within the distance jogged my memory that I used to be nonetheless in Hong Kong.
As we made our means additional up the mountain in the direction of the climate station, the trail received simpler. The grime paths we had been traversing gave strategy to a well-maintained asphalt street; the occasional biker breezed previous us, pumping on the pedals with sluggish, even strokes.
Almost imperceptibly, we ascended into the fabled fog of Tai Mo Shan. It shrouded us in a gray expanse, totally obscuring Kowloon and the Hong Kong skyline from view.
Aside from being the very best level in Hong Kong, Tai Mo Shan can also be the wettest a part of Hong Kong, seeing a mean of three,000mm of rainfall a 12 months. There was no rain right here, however inside minutes all three of us had been drenched, and never from sweat, both. It was like strolling via the clouds; water condensed in our hair and on our faces, splashing off our eyelashes with each blink.
When headlights reduce via the fog, we needed to step off the street, and typically we needed to share the roadside with a number of of Tai Mo Shan’s many bovine inhabitants. They watched us placidly as we struggled up the mountain, additional and additional into the fog.
The street continued to twist and switch least a dozen extra instances. Each time it felt prefer it was coming to an finish, we might flip a nook and discover yet one more winding stretch of street forward of us, disappearing into the gray. We had been soaked to the pores and skin and beginning to shiver.
Finally — as we contemplated giving up and heading again to Duen Kee for a second spherical of piping sizzling dim sum — the dual spheres of the climate station loomed out of the fog. We whooped with pleasure and high-fived one another. We had conquered Hong Kong’s highest peak.
It had been a troublesome climb. But Jun Liang and I had been in settlement: it was nonetheless simpler than ending that desk stuffed with dim sum.
Hiking lovers can discover out extra about Hong Kong’s trails on the Hong Kong Tourism Board web site.
Singaporeans seeking to go to Hong Kong can get pleasure from promotional fares and free excursions right here.