Recently I spent 6-weeks in Hong Kong as an intern for the Epoch Times. I came here as a student looking to develop my journalism as well as experience my first trip out of the United States and get an introduction to Asian culture. While most of my work was focused in the bustling city, my rural background had me yearning for peace and quiet, especially when homesickness kept me restless.
In whatever free time I had, I had a mission to see as much of this incredible place as I could. I made a list of sights, hikes, and places that were all away from the city and off the beaten path. I was driven by the need for some fresh air and an escape from the sticky streets, so my explorations turned into some of my favorite parts of the trip.
Near Tsuen Wan, I first ventured to Po Tai Yuen, a steep but short mountain climb from the Discovery Park walkway. The stair climb was tough for my first trek, but as I rose up away from Tsuen Wan, the noise of the city gave way to chirping birds and thick green wilderness. The jogging trail at the top ran parallel to a catch fall for spring water. The views looking Tsuen Wan were sprawling. If you keep walking down the jogging trail, make sure to take the trail that crosses the moat and up into the forest toward the peak. The solace of the trail is littered with Buddhist shrines and one of the most peaceful hikes I’ve done.
One evening I had the pleasure of stumbling into Tai Mei Tuk via Tai Po Market. The enclosing ridges of jagged peaks and the swelling bay that opened up to endless islands and Tai Po nestled under the mountains was like stepping into a dream. I found Tai Mei Tuk to be one of the friendliest places to visit. Everyone was full of smiles as they road bikes and rowed boats underneath the painted sunset. Take the short Family Walk to get a higher view on the bay, a magnificent sight as the melting sun dribbles the sky and rippling water with vibrant reds, oranges, and purples. Across the road is a row of restaurants to satisfy any taste, a wonderful way to end the evening.
A restless early morning motivated me to go out and hike parts of Wilson Trail near Lam Tin Park and Devil’s Peak in Yau Tong. The early morning on the trail was met with folks stretching and jogging on the many public trails that sprawl over the countryside. Even if you’re not too keen on cemeteries, the Tseung Kwan O Chinese Permanent Cemetery was something to my American eyes. Cut out of the hillside, endless rows of tombs circled out over Junk Bay, almost reminding me of the Coliseum. Foraging off the main trail led me to peak with a nice perspective of the opposite side of the mountain, overlooking Kowloon Bay. Even in the pouring rain, this hike was worth the wide variety of sights and the refreshing mountain air.
Having heard the good news of Lantau Island, it easily became my favorite place to be toward the end of my stay. My first trek was to Tai O Infinity Pool. The trail starts in Tai O Market and sweeps next to the coast until turning upward into the ravine toward the waterfall. The arduous hike was well worth the stunning serenity at the pool and the view over Yi O Bay. The pool is created by a dam that appears to hang off the edge of the world when looking over it and the mountains seem to consume you.
My last adventures took place along the S. Lantau Rd. The first day I spent exploring desolate and peaceful Pui O Beach, making my way to the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail in the afternoon to reach the rock cliffs that loom over the beach. The hike was a beautiful way to experience the slow, village life of the area, yet feel lost at the same time. The trail was rocky and difficult at parts, but the incredible elation upon reaching the cliffs at the top was worth every aching muscle the next day.
Finally, if you go a little further up the road to Nam Shan, the Lantau Trail will give you access to the third tallest mountain in Hong Kong, Sunset Peak. While the trail is deceivingly long and steep, all along it you will find springs, wildlife, and breathtaking views. A little exploration off the trail will bring wonderful hidden gems, such as a cascading waterfall that simply falls off an unseen ridge. With so much to see around Sunset Peak, an early start would be advised and bring lots of water and food. Even hiking the peak in the unexpected fog was an experience. The trail ends back on S. Lantau Rd, just a short bus ride from Tung Chung MTR.
At Pui O Beach, the rocky shoreline will lead you right to the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail and up into the mountain.