Sunday, September 14, 2014

Off the beaten path on Hong Kong Island

across Victoria Harbour from Hong Kong Island

 View from, and of, a trail that apparently doesn't exist
is to be believed! :O

What with the Hong Kong Observatory reporting visibility of up to 40 kilometers today, there was no question that I'd be taking advantage of these uncommon conditions and be out hiking!  Originally, the plan was to go along the Hong Pak Country Trail and after climbing up Mount Parker Road to connect with the western end of this trail, my hike buddy for the day and I did indeed trek along this path that's pleasantly level but also predominantly unpaved for at least a couple of kilometers. 

But shortly after we passed marker C4304, we spied what appeared to be a fairly newly laid out section of trail leading upwards to higher ground.  And despite there being no signs indicating where it'd lead to, it looked too tempting to not go along -- whereby I found myself in interesting parts of Hong Kong Island I previously had never been to. 

Almost needless to say, there were some scenic views to be had along this way. In the hilly area that my hike buddy and I first passed through, we also came across several spots with Chinese characters written on them, including an area that almost looked like a makeshift learning area, complete with a keyboard with both Romanized script as well as Chinese characters drawn on the face of a large rock!  

In addition, we came across at least one spot that looked like it could be a cool swimming hole -- except that I couldn't help but feel that certain wild creatures may like it quite a bit too.  (Years ago, when I was in Sarawak's Gunung Mulu National Park, I went swimming in a part of a river with wonderful clear and cool water.  Shortly after I had got out and was drying myself, my party spotted a snake swimming in the very spot that I had previously been paddling about.  I've been much more wary of going into enticing looking natural watering holes since!)

Shortly after this particular section of trail joined up again with the Hong Pak Country Trail, we spied another path diverting off it -- and decided to venture into the unknown once more.  Although this other less traversed trail also yielded up a number of scenic views, I must admit that if I had known earlier on how overgrown -- and hairy with regards to some of the bits that crossed over and by hill streams -- it was, I may not have been as keen to go along it.

As it was, my friend and I ended up having a more adventurous excursion than had been planned for today -- this not least because we apparently failed to locate what was listed as a dotted (i.e., overgrown and/or difficult) trail on the map that would get us down to where we would be able to catch a bus back home.  On the other hand, thanks to "signage"in the form of ribbons tied on trees and such, and chalked arrows on the ground left by other hikers, we managed to scramble downhill along a path that, according to the same map we'd been relying on, doesn't actually exist!

For the record: this is hardly the first time the person(s) hiking with me and I were unable to spot a trail whose existence had been noted down on a map. Indeed, the first time I ended up at Sha Lo Tung was because the three pairs of eyes (including my own) had been unable to spy not one but three different trails that were supposed to have taken us to the west of the area we had been hiking in rather than south to Sha Lo Tung! 

Put another way: I've learnt from experience that some trails are far less maintained and even visible than others in Hong Kong.  At the same time, I also have learnt that Hong Kong Island in particular has a number of hiking trails that crisscross one another.  So I was confident that at some point, we'd (eventually) find a trail that would connect to a paved road with public transport passing along it -- and there thus was never a serious possibility that we'd have to desperately resort to doing such as calling for a helicopter to come over and rescue us! ;b 

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