Visit wetland Nam Sang Wai

Route: Nam Sang Wai (南生圍)

Date: 13 April 2013

Difficulty: Easy

Hours: 3.5

Name Sam Wai is a wetland area to the north of Yuen Long. It is home to many birds and flora such as reeds and mangroves. This walk is most suitable for families, as it is flat land all along. photo (5) The picturesque wetland has attracted media attention in recent years because of plan for property development in the area. So grasp the opportunity to visit here before development will spoil its environment.

A small boat ferries people and bikes across Kam Tin River for HK$5 per head. It is the most interesting part of the journey.photo The eucalyptus trees are abundant in Nam Sam Wai and a path flanked with the trees is a signature scene.admin-ajax

The reeds are spectacular:photo (1)photo (4)This is Nam Sang Wai Road, along which you visit much of Nam Sang Wai:

nam sang wai roadA path alongside Nam Sang Wai Road, where you can walk on instead of the pavement of the road:admin-ajax (1)Mangroves along Nam Sang Wai road:photo (8)

How to get to the starting point:

Get off at Yuen Long MTR station and choose exit A for going to Yuen Long Kau Hui Road (元朗舊墟路). Turn to right at the end  of Yuen Long Kau Hui Road to Shan Pu Road (山貝路). After passing a public toilet, you will see a sign pointing to “Nam Sang Wai Jetty”.photo (2) Follow the direction to the jetty to take the small boat. After arriving at the other side of the river, you are at  Nam Sang Wai.

Direction:

Follow the beaten path and you will soon pass by a big lawn where crowd is seen playing, relaxing, flying model planes, taking photos, etc.

Walk past the lawn to continue the walk along Nam Sang Wai Road, an embankment concrete road.

Follow Nam Sang Wai Road all along, and you will finally come to Castle Peak Road, after some 3-hour leisurely walk. Turn right at the junction of Castle Peak Road and Nam Sang Wai Road,  and walk until you reach a subway. After crossing the subway, you will reach Kam Tin Road where you can take bus back to Yuen Long city centre.

Along Nam Sang Wai Road, you will find a number of farms where you can have drink or snack and take a rest. Biking is common in this area.

And, not long before you reach Castle Peak Road, you should walk under some flyovers and past a vegetable wholesale market, along Nam Sang Wai Road.

Scaling highest mountain in Hong Kong

Route: Tai Mo Shan (大帽山) – Lead Mine Pass (鉛礦坳) – Shing Mun Reservoir(城門水塘)

Date: 7 April 2013

Scaling the highest mountain in Hong Kong , Tai Mo Shan with an altitude of 957m, may sound daunting. But it is not. For there is a road all the way up to the mountain with a comfortable gradient. However, it is a vehicular road, allowing cars to use so walkers must be careful. photo (70)From the starting point I have chosen, i.e. the intersection between Tai Mo Shan Road (大帽山路) and Route Twisk (荃錦公路), it is a less than 2 hr hike.

View from the top:photo (67)photo (65)From Tai Mo Shan you can hike to Lead Mine Pass, which is about 2 hours. The landscape dotted by volcano rocks is amazing. This part of the route is most interesting, for the rock scene, the landscape and the pleasure of walking on a dirt path.photo (68)

photo (66)photo (62)photo (64)The last part of the route is easy, from Lead Mine Pass to Shing Mun Reservoir, which is about 1 hour 15 minute walk. It is concrete road all along with shady green.

photo (63)Overall the route is highly recommended, especially for the first two parts. The hike is five hours in total.

How to get to the starting point (intersection between Tai Mo Shan Road and Route Twisk):

Take bus No. 51 at the bus terminal next to Tsuen Wan West MTR station (West Rail Line). Get off at country park stop. Walk downhill to the first intersection where Tai Mo Shan Road intersects with Route Twisk. Walk up the concrete road for about 1 hour 40 minutes and you will reach the highest possible point – not the very top where Hong Kong Government’s radio facility is located, a forbidden area.

Once you are at the highest point possible, turn to the right to go downhill and soon, you will come to a crossroads with a trail sign.

At this crossroads, turn right.
At this crossroads, turn right.

Turn right to continue. You are now on the way to Lead Mine Pass. photo (61)Once you reach Lead Mine Pass, go in the direction of “Tsuen Wan” (荃灣), and you will be led to Shing Mun Reservoir and then station of mini bus No. 52 at the end of the reservoir after about a 1-hour walk. The bus will bring you to Tsuen Wan, where you can hop on the MTR train.

Island walk: from Discovery Bay to Mui Wo

Date: 10 March 2013

Route: Discovery Bay – Trappist Haven Monastery (神學院) – Mui Wo

This walk on Lantau Island  is not too hard if you walk from Discovery Bay, a haven for expatriates, to Mui Woo,  but can be very challenging if it is in the opposite direction, i.e. from Mui Woo to Discovery Bay. There are too many steps like these to overcome. I dare you to try. photo (29)But all the efforts are worth it – the scenery of the route is very enchanting. I started from Discovery Bay, choosing the easier way. The village life first came into sight, with farming lands and village houses surrounded by flowers and plants.photo (38)photo (35) photo (34)It is spring time, seeing colorful flowers and fresh green leaves in their glory. The path leading to Trappist Haven Monastery blew me away, as the scent from Sweet Osmanthus trees filled the air.photo (31)photo (32) The Monastery area is very peaceful.photo (42)photo (41) You should spend a while in in its garden, just for a quiet moment with yourself.photo (40) The Monastery is known among the locals because it once produced fresh milk branded Trappist Diary and sold all over Hong Kong. Trappist Diary is now Hong Kong’s second biggest brand in terms of sales of fresh milk. However, nowadays the Monastery is no longer involved in the daily operation of the diary company, though it is still its major shareholder. In the old days, the Monastery had a cattle farm first in Lantau Island and then in Yuen Long, before the production was moved to mainland China. Gone were cattle farms and the days of locally produced fresh milk.

Let’s get back to the trail. After reaching the Monastery, I started walking uphill, and having overcome a long  and steep staircase, I finally reached the hill top with a panoramic view.photo (30) photo (37)Then it is all going downhill with still amazing views unfolding.photo (44)photo (43) I felt my legs shaking when I finally had walked down the many steps and reached Mui Wo. The hike is about 2.5 hours.

At Mui Wo, I was again welcomed to an abundance of colors. It was a wonderful closing to the hike. photo (47)photo (48)photo (46) photoHow to get to the starting point:

You can go to Sunny Bay MTR station of the West Rail Line and take bus to Discovery Bay. It is about 20 minutes before the bus takes you to the pier of Discovery Bay. The bus service is very frequent and the fare is about HK$10. Or you take ferry from Central to Discover Bay, costing  HK$34 one way, which is an outrageous price.

From the pier you walk to to the left to Discovery Bay Road, and carry on until you reach the intersection with Marina Drive (遊艇徑). Turn to the Drive -not far from the intersection and behind a booth, there lies a hidden path.photo (36) That is the path to Mui Wo. A sign is put up at the starting point so you will know you are on the right track.

Start of the trail
Start of the trail

photo (39)

How to leave the finishing point:

You can take bus from Mui Wo pier to Tung Chung where you can hop on the train. Or you can take ferry from Mui Wo pier to Central. Both ferry and bus services are frequent.

Ho Pui Reservoir walk

Date: 10 Feb 2013 (First Day of Chinese New Year)

Route: Ho Pui Reservoir Family Walk (河背水塘家樂徑)

As seen from the route name, this reservoir walk is very relaxing and suitable for all ages. The walk around the reservoir is about 45 minutes, excluding the time to walk up to the reservoir from bus stop.

The reservoir’s setting reminds me of Jiuzhaigou(九寨溝) , a scenic spot in Sichuan, China, though the latter is much more beautiful. If you have been to Jiuzhaigou and see photos of Ho Pui reservoir below, you may agree with me.photo 2 (7)photo 4 (2)photo 5 (2)photo (25)If you want a relaxing short walk, this may be it. The walk also presents a chance for you to visit Yuen Long, traditionally a market town in Northwest Hong Kong, and one of its villages, Ho Pui Village.

How to get to the starting point

It is rather easy to reach the reservoir. Go to Kam Sheung Road MTR station and exit at C. At the public transport area wait for mini bus No. 71 which goes between Ho Pui Village (河背村)and Yuen Long. Please note that at the time of writing there is no minibus stand for No.71. Don’t panic. Just wait. Do make sure that the minibus you board is in the direction of Ho Pui Village, not Yuen Long, for No.71 stopping at Kam Sheung Road MTR station for both directions.

Get off at Ho Pui Village, where the minibus’s terminus is. Where you get off, you are faced with village houses, one of them being the village communal house. There is a path going between houses (just right in front of the minibus as shown in the photo below), follow it, and when you reach a cement road, turn left and go up the slope.photo 1 (5)

The path running between houses
The path running between houses
The cement slope leading to  the reservoir
The cement slope leading to the reservoir

Before long, you will come to a barbecue place with a sign pointing the direction to Ho Pui Reservoir Family Walk. It will be 20-min walk before you reach the starting point of the walk from Ho Pui Village.

Upon finishing the walk, you can walk the same way down and catch No.71 minibus to Kam Sheung Road MTR station.

A must-walk trail: from Tai Mei Tuk to Luk Keng

Date: 13 Feb 2013 (the fourth day of Chinese New Year)

Route: Tai Mei Tuk (大尾篤) –Pat Sin Leng Nature Trail (八仙嶺自然教育徑)- Wang Shan Keuk Village (橫山腳村)- Wang Che Old Trail (橫七古道)—Che Muk Kiu Village (七木橋村)—Luk Keng(鹿頸)

I highly recommend this trail walk, which I finished in about 4 hours. The trail is rich in history, very green and serene, and a great pleasure to walk, without any steep slopes. The villages on the trail have long been abandoned, leaving behind fragments of walls and houses / temples only.photo (19)photo (17)The route is all the way dirt or stone paths, with Wang Che Old Trail (橫七古道) paved in the old days to connect neighboring villages in the area, a highlight of the route. No cement to walk on. Another reason for me to love and recommend the trail.photo (20)Soon after you embark on Pat Sin Leng Nature Trail, you can have a fantastic view over Plover Cove Reservoir and its surrounding mountains and waters.photo (22)Around the Chinese New Year, i.e. this time of the year, bell flowers (also called Chinese New Year flowers as they are in full bloom during the time) are blooming. A bunch of bell flower trees smiled in the sun.photo (24)Bamboos, trees with color leaves and small streams dot the trail.

photo (23)photo (18)photo 1 (4)Towards the end, while approaching Luk Keng, Sha Tau Kok in mainland China is in sight with Shenzhen River separating Hong Kong from Shenzhen, its neighbor.photo 2 (5) In Luk Keng village where some houses are vacant/abandoned, elderly people are seen living there, peacefully. Houses were built as early as 1960s, which give visitors a glimpse of the old village life in Hong Kong.

photo 2 (3)photo 3 (1)

How to get to the starting point:
Take bus 75K from Tai Po MTR station and get off at the last stop Tai Mei Tuk. Walk up the slope to reach Pat Sin Leng Visitor Centre (八仙嶺遊客中心) – a walk of about 10 minutes. There is a path next to the Centre, leading to Pat Sin Leng Nature Trail.

You can also do as I did. Take bus 275R from Tai Po MTR station, and get off at Plover Cove Country Park station(船灣郊野公園站), i.e. the stop after Tai Mei Tuk (Dragon Tail stop龍尾站). Where you get off, there is a path going up the hill, which is clearly labeled as Pat Sin Leng Nature Trail. It is easier to get to the starting point by taking bus 275R, as you don’t need to walk up the slope, but the bus runs only on weekends and during holidays.

Direction
During the first part of the trail, follow the signs that say going to “Wang Shan Keuk” or “Bride’s Pool”. At about the middle of the trail, you will see signs that point to the direction of “Luk Keng” and “Bride’s Pool”. Choose “Luk Keng” direction from now on.

Toward the end of the journey, when you see a public toilet, you should know you are at Luk Keng village. Turn left to enter the village and pass by it. You will come to a bustling place, with two small outdoor restaurants and the mini bus stop of 65K. Good to wind down at one of the restaurants after hours of walking.photo 2 (4)

65k mini bus will take you to Fan Ling MTR station. The bus is very popular during the weekends. There is usually a long queue but you have no other public transport option and have to wait.