I came across the article (above) online and think it really portrays modern Hong Kong very well – some pretty mind blowing photos. For such a populated city Hong Kong is crammed in to a pretty small area, and if you can’t expand out then the next best thing is to expand up. As the article mentions, Hong Kong grew rapidly upwards following the Shek Kip Mei shanty-town fire on Christmas Day 1953 which left 50,000 plus homeless. The then governor, Alexander Grantham, launched a multi-storey housing program which has led to the city we see today.
I don’t think I need write much about this walk – just, as they say, let the pictures do the talking. Sai Kung is, I’m reliably informed, the ‘Garden of Hong Kong’ and covers a huge and thankfully un-developed patch of mountains, islands and beaches. This walk was in February, over Chinese New Year, and the weather was perfect for HK hiking: overcast, cool, but no haze to limit visibility.
You can add MacLehose Trail Section 1 on to the start, but most of it runs along a road and the passing taxis shuttling hikers to the start of Section 2 might make you think ‘why bother?’ Incidentally, Murray MacLehose was the 25th, and longest serving, Governor of Hong Kong. He had this trail named in his honour as a keen hiker…
Along the way you’ll encounter deserted beaches that can only be reached by foot (or boat) and are therefore free from the usual Hong Kong masses. Camp on them if the fancy grabs you! Long Ke beach has a drug rehabilitation centre, in case you had a bit of a heavy session the night before.
You may also encounter wild buffalo (see pic 5) who, unless you’re unlucky or you tick them off, will simply give you an uninterested glance as you pass.
The soaring peak in picture number 6 is ‘Sharp Peak’ (an uninviting name for a hill if ever there was one). You can add this on as a detour, as it’s not on the trail proper, but by the time you reach the turn-off you’ll have been at it for several hours already. One for the super-fit only.
In the last photo, tucked in the right hand corner, is Wong Shek pier. When you see that you know you’re nearly done. It took us around six hours (including a stop for fried rice in a beach-side cafe). You can get a ferry to Wong Shek from Sha Tin and do the hike in reverse, but there is one ferry per day and it takes an hour and a half – refreshingly slow and inefficient compared to the rest of Hong Kong’s transport services. Anyway, when you hit the road, you’re done. At this point, normal people get the bus back to Sai Kung town. Crazy people go on and tackle MacLehose Stage 3…