The ramshackle bus zoomed along the highway, its diesel engine wheezing and popping as it huffed away from Kowloon and into the mountains of the New Territories. I watched as high-rise buildings and billboards and subways shrunk into the greenery, saw distant peaks rise where the civilization once stood. The city came back briefly as our bus dropped us off in Sai Kung, an old fishing village that has since transformed into a mini-tourist mecca known for its amazing seafood.
From Sai Kung, my friend Trevor and I boarded another bus deep into Sai Kung Country Park to Pak Tam Au , one of the trailheads to stage 2 of the well-known MacLehose Trail. The plan was to hike south and catch a boat that would take us back to Sai Kung later for a fresh fishy feast. A thick October fog had set in on the hilly terrain, cool and humid in a way that makes you shiver yet sweat. We trekked along a paved pathway through thick vegetation, staring up into walls of green. At the top of Chek Keng Peak, the fog broke slightly and I was treated to my first real view.
The trail snaked up and alongside the mountain, then curved downward until we came upon a pathway that led us directly to Tai Long Wan, or “Big Wave Bay.” Families frolicked in this hidden beach, splashing in the waves, flying kites and drawing pictures into the sand. We came upon a beachside cafe, its patio overlooking the cove. The plan was to stop for quick refreshments, but the menu and humidity lured us into staying. We ordered up some noodles and kicked up our feet.
The pristine waters and lush forest seemed a million miles away from Central Hong Kong, where construction workers were currently dredging dirt from the harbor to create land for development. The calm of Tai Long Wan was yin to the cacophonous yang of Central and Kowloon. This must have been the Hong Kong that Britain fell in love with, I thought.
Sluggish from our mid-afternoon meal, we continued on for another hour or so, stumbling across a few small villages along the way.
Rare was the glimpse of an actual resident — perhaps they were all fishing — but the path was dotted with many a cow patty, reminders of the old farm lifestyle of the New Territories.
The sun was beginning to set, so we skipped the rest of the trail and hopped on a boat that took us back to Wong Shek Pier near the Pak Tam Au trailhead. As the rickety bus careened back down the mountain, we leaned back in our seats, tired and sweaty and completely relaxed. A multi-course seafood dinner awaited us in Sai Kung, the perfect end to an already perfect day.
Note: Most hikers complete the trail from south to north, starting from Long Ke near the High Island Reservoir (accessible by taxi) and ending at Pak Tam Au, where they can take bus 94 back to Sai Kung. Beachgoers can forgo the more difficult trails by taking shortcuts directly to the beach, or by taking a boat directly from Wong Shek Pier or Sai Kung ($400-600 HKD). But why miss out on the breathtaking hike? Full guide to the MacLehose Trail / Map of Tai Long Wan.
Read about it on Trazzler!
Add this to your wishlist: Slurping Noodles by the Beach in Sai Kung Country Park, Hong Kong