Tai O Ride

Last year we purchased two small fold up Dahon bikes and we have been planning to ride them from the village of Tung Chung to Tai O (on Lantau Island) here in Hong Kong.  Today was the day!

We left the apartment around 0900 and rolled our bikes to the bus stop (about 2 minutes away) then folded them up and waited for the bus to Tung Chung.  The bus driver was most impressed with our two small bikes and how compact they were when folded.

Tung Chug is about 15 minutes by bus so before we knew it we were unfolding our bikes (this takes all of about 30 seconds) and saddling up for the ride to Tai O.

The ride starts out in the bustling high rise village of Tung Chung and then follows the incredibly well laid out bike paths toward and through the next bustling high rise village of Yat Tung.  The pathways are all flat and easy going.

We joined the narrow cement pathway that is laid along the northern foreshore of Lantau Island just behind the Yat Tung estate and continued along the flat pathway around Tung Chung bay toward the village of Sha Lo Wan.

Being a weekday meant that there were not too many people on the pathway (the weekend would be a different story!) and we were able to chat to some of the local hikers about the trip ahead.  They informed us that the path became steep and rocky toward the end of the ride (approaching Tai O).

For the first 50% of the ride we were able to peddle the small inclines and downhills and we enjoyed the variety of flora as we cycled along the path.  At times we passed through tiny villages and were given “welcome” barks by the local dogs.  We said “josan” (good morning) to the friendly locals and stopped at times to take some photo’s of the decorated temples and village houses.

The pathway became steeper in parts as we rode west and, at times, we had to get off the bikes and push them up the hills. Indeed, the last 15% of the pathway consisted of steps and a rocky pathway and this meant we learned the true meaning of “push bike”.

We approached Tai O around 1300 (some three hours after we started our ride) – a welcome sight for our sore bums?  The approach to Tai O offers a very good view of the stilt houses and we enjoyed taking some photo’s of this relatively untouched local fishing village.

We rode through the village and literally past the front doors of the houses – space is a premium here.  All of the houses are built on concrete stilts and the majority of them are made of steel.  We were told that the framework is wood but the ‘cladding’ is metal.  The houses would be like ovens in summer.

As we approached the main centre (Tai O market street) we rode past a very nice looking restaurant called the Balcony Cafe.   This quaint little place was the perfect place to stop for lunch so we parked the bikes and took up a seat out the back over the water.

We shared some very tasty garlic broccoli, an excellent fried rice and a delightful sweet and sour chicken as we watched the coming and going of the local fishermen. A great place to dine!

Timmy (the owner) and his staff were excellent hosts and we would highly recommend the Balcony Cafe for a meal and/or coffee (great coffee) – we did both.

We had planned to catch the ferry from Tai O back to Tung Chung however, we were enjoying ourselves too much, so we missed the ferry.  Fortunately there are a number of options for getting back to civilization from Tai O.  Our plan was to take the bus from Tai O to Mui Wo however we discovered that bikes are not allowed (even fold up bikes) on the bus.  Next option – a taxi.

There was a taxi waiting at the rank so we folded the bikes up and placed one in the boot and one in the back and set off for Mui Wo.  The drive to Mui Wo took around 20 minutes and it was nice to take in some of the beautiful scenery of Lantau Island on the way.

We arrived in Mui Wo in time to catch the ferry across to Discovery Bay (DB). So by 4.00pm we were sitting on the deck of Pacific Coffee in DB resting our tired but satisfied bodies and enjoying a late afternoon coffee.

Summary – a great day out and absolutely worth the effort.  If you intend to ride to Tai O then make sure you are up for pushing your bike for a bit (unless you have one of those very good mountain bikes and you are really keen).  Make sure you give yourself at least 3 hours (with only short breaks) and, if you intend to catch the ferry back after lunch, leave yourself time to dine and enjoy the Tai O atmosphere before departing.

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