Posts Tagged ‘lantau island’

Butterflies and Getting Buffed

Monday, April 9th, 2012

I do quite a bit of mountain bike riding here in Hong Kong and one of the places I love riding is the Chi Ma Wan peninsula.  It is located on the same island that we live on  (Lantau Island).

The Princess has been keen to see where I ride so I suggested that we take a hike around the same track that I ride.  So, with backpacks packed and plenty of water we set out today to explore Chi Ma Wan on foot.

This morning’s weather did not look too favourable for a hike however not long after we rose it started to improve so we committed to the hike – rain or shine.  Fortunately it turned out to be the latter.

There are a number of ways to get to Chi Ma Wan (hiking, riding and ferry) but our chosen route was via the Discovery Bay (DB) to Mui Wo (MW) ferry then the coastal trail from Mui Wo.  We always enjoy the ferry trip from DB to MW.  We call it the slow boat to China – an old inter-island ferry the chugs along close to the shoreline.  The staff are friendly and the open air upper deck is perfect for taking in the sights and temperature of the day.

We departed DB around 1045 and arrived in MW less than 30 minutes later.  The closer we got to MW the better the weather became and by the time we arrived the air was clearing and the sun was peeking through thin layer of overcast.

Before setting out for Chi Ma Wan (CMW) we stocked up on some rations at Cafe Paradiso – some freshly made sandwiches on rye bread.  This turned out to be a good move later in the hike when we stopped for lunch.  They were delightful sandwiches!

We set out for CMW around 11.20 – the short walk to the start of the trail taking us past a small beach at the back of the main street of Mui Wo.  The coastal trail around to CMW is mostly concrete and it starts with a steep set of stairs that get the heart rate up straight away.  The track follows the coastline of the southern shore of Lantau Island around to Chi Ma Wan and the views from the trail are stunning.  You get to look back to Hong Kong island and south to some of the larger islands too.

Whilst the trial is mostly concrete there are several stretches of clay base. After the recent rains the trail was muddy in patches but this didn’t stop us making good progress along the path.

The one thing that was immediately apparent as we started out on the hike was that we were going to be in for a butterfly treat today. The spring temperatures have led to a huge increase in the number and type of butterflies and at times it felt like we were in a butterfly house.  Absolutely beautiful.

We arrived over at the CMW peninsula after an hour of walking and we enjoyed seeing the grazing “Lantau Cows” (the feral buffalo) that call this part of Lantau home.  One has to be a little careful where one steps on the trail because these “locals” don’t have any toilet training and they seem to be quite happy to decorate the trail with their rather larges “pats”.

The small beach leading into Shap Long Chung Hau (the small village the marks the beginning of the Chi Ma Wan area) is rather picturesque and, in some respects, set in an idyllic location.  However, the locals that call this part of the world their home are not exactly environmentally savvy and the beach area is full of rubbish.  It is a real shame that the culture here does not see anything wrong with having their backyard look like a rubbish tip (dump) – we guessed that it is going to take several more generations to wake up to looking after the environment a little better.

Despite the proliferation of rubbish in village area we enjoyed the views of the surrounding areas (beaches, mountains and bushland) as we started the climb up toward the reservoir behind Shap Long Chung Hau.  Before starting out on the next trail we walked passed two prison complexes and up toward a lovely reservoir that sits between two ridge lines – a beautiful watercourse that would be perfect for a “dip” in mid summer.

After traversing the dam wall we headed up some steep steps and onto the Chi Ma Wan peninsular proper.  Despite her recent bout of sickness (double pneumonia) The Princess handled the steps and gradients like a true pro and it wasn’t long before we were well into the Chi Ma Wan trail.

Fortunately quite a bit of the trail is covered by reasonable overhangs so we were protected nicely from the increasing periods of sunlight.  The shade also kept the temperature down as the afternoon progressed.

Small creek crossings, rocky outcrops and stunning views to the southern islands of Hong Kong made for a very pleasant hiking along the well trodden (and ridden) trails.  We enjoyed stopping periodically to take in the natural beauty of the area and to listen to the cacophony of insect “chatter” rising from the surrounding bush.

We made good time along the trail however, around 1400 we decided to stop for a bite to eat – the lovely rye sandwiches we had made in Mui Wo.  We chose a huge rocky outcrop just above Tai Long beach for our picnic spot.  It was nice to stop and rest our legs and to take in the southern views across the Admasta Channel and toward Cheung Chau (a large island south of Lantau Island).

The Admasta Channel is a rather busy waterway.  It is the route taken by the many fast ferries that transit between Hong Kong and Macau.  We enjoyed watching the continuous procession of hydrofoils and catamarans moving at high speed.  We also enjoyed the company of two local black kites who kept a close eye on our lunch from overhead.  These beautiful birds are very common here in Hong Kong and they enjoyed the ridge line thermals rising up from the coast below.

With our bodies refueled and energy levels topped up we continued our hike westward toward Pui O.  The trail descends quite a ways on the western side (always a favourite part of the trail when I am mountain biking) so we had to be careful negotiating the steeper steps and washout parts of the trail – spraining an ankle is never a good thing when you are a little remote.

For some reason (flower types?) the butterflies increased in numbers as we headed further west along the trail.  We enjoyed photographing the more patient ones and taking in the sights on offer.  Butterflies are a one of The Princess’ favourite so she was in her element.  Indeed, I had to keep her moving (we’d still be out there if she had her choice!) along the trail.

We left the main trail above Mong Tung Wan bay around 1500 and took a side trail toward Pui O.  We had to be cautious of the slippery steps on the steep descent down to the Pui O trail however we managed to get to the bottom unscathed.

The trail around Mong Tung Wan to Pui O is concrete so the remainder of the hike was quite straightforward.  We enjoyed the distant views toward Cheng Sha beach and the mountains of Lantau Island as we made our way along the pathway toward Ham Tin (the small village near Pui O).

We arrived in Pui O around 1615 – just under 5 hours after departing Mui Wo.  We were a little foot sore and tired after the 15km hike but happy to have made the effort.  The Princess was very happy to have seen the trail that I frequent on my bike and very happy to have seen so many butterflies too!

End note:  It took us five hours to hike the trail and only 7 minutes in a bus from Pui O to Mui Wo!!  Oh – the bus ride had nothing on the hike (other than the time element!).

You can take a look at a map of the hike we did here

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Tai O Ride

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

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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Trail Running

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

This afternoon I decided to purchase a set of the new Philips SHQ4000.  These lightweight headphones are designed for sweaty outdoor use – perfect for summer hiking and running in Hong Kong!

Of course I couldn’t wait to try them out and confirm Philip’s claim that they are sweatproof etc… so I hit the mountain trail up behind where we live and sweated my body to bits!  In fact, in addition to hiking up the mountains, I ran the flats and back down the mountain too.  I can honestly say that my body must have lost a kilo or two of sweat (still going as I am writing this) and the headphones did the job.

It was quite unique hiking and running to music – something new for me.  However, it is nice to listen to nature too.  In fact I think I will alternate between the wearing the headphones and “going naked” (at least by the ears!).

More sweaty stories to follow.


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Hiking In Hong Kong

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I have been taking to the hiking trails of Lantau Island over the past week.  The weather is hot and humid and this makes for some sweaty hiking.  However, the views are excellent and the flora and fauna is something to see.

These small and colourful insects, called ‘banana spiders” here in Hong Kong, suspend their webs over the hiking trails so you have to keep a good lookout for them.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them out at this time of the year and they make great photographic subjects.

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Discovery Bay Club

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Leaving the pool at the Siena Club in Discovery Bay, Hong Kong. The sun had just dropped down behind the mountains of…

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Siena Park, Discovery Bay

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Taking a walk through the garden and waterfall area of Siena in Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. This beautif…

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