Today’s walk takes us high in to the hills overlooking downtown Hong Kong. In Cantonese, Kowloon means ‘Nine Dragons’ – one dragon for every hill in this range. And the most striking dragon is, um, a lion.
From most angles, Lion Rock doesn’t look much more than a sharp cliff face poking from the top of a thick, green slope. But at a certain position, from the side, when the late afternoon sun strikes, it does look a bit like a lion proudly gazing out over his domain.
It’s not actually part of the Maclehose Trail, but a short, steep detour around midway along stage 5 will take you up. Go on a clear day (good luck finding one) but not in the height of summer or you’ll turn in to a walking sweat-shop. Then you can pose, like me, looking as if you own Hong Kong.
The quickest way to get there is to taxi to Sha Tin Pass, and from there it’s a 30 minute slog to the top. The whole of stage 5 is much longer, and if you continue to the end you’ll arrive at Tai Po Road, where you can have lunch with the monkeys or catch a bus back to the city.
There are trails criss-crossing the whole of Lion Rock Country park, though, and you could walk north to Sha Tin via Amah Rock. This is basically the Lion Rock training course and is named after the fact that, with a good bit of squinting, this particular rock resembles a woman – Amah meaning maid, or helper in Chinese. Story goes that this young woman sat looking out waiting for her sailor husband, who drowned at sea, and waited so long that she turned in to a rock. I’ve also heard, in a slightly less romantic vein, that some people believe they the rocks actually take the shape of a, well, dick. People see what they wanna see…