We ended our trip on a high – quite literally, since we spent our last full day atop Tai Mo Shan, the SAR’s highest peak. Located slap-bang in the middle of the New Territories, it commands superb views of the rest of Hong Kong, and on clear days the southern coast of mainland China can be seen on the horizon.
Victoria Peak is a tourist magnet, and pulls in the crowds for good reason: it offers views of the city rivalled only by those from Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) on the opposite side of Victoria Harbour. That said, it’s possible to escape the hordes of selfie-takers should you so wish (and get your 10,000 steps in without breaking much of a sweat).
The Hunch Backs, or Ngau Ngak Shan to give it its local name, may have stellar views, but it isn’t a hike for the ill-equipped, and there’s definitely a reason (or two) why the signs mere steps from the starting line caution against proceeding.
There are hikes, and then there are hikes – those that push you beyond your limits; those that demand more from you; those that stay with you long after you’ve washed off the grime from the trail. Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak, when done together as one thru hike, fall decidedly into the latter category. We’d ummed and ahhed over whether or not to conquer the two of them in one fell swoop, and ultimately decided it was the best option for our itinerary, as it freed up a day later in our trip for adventures elsewhere.
Hong Kong has miles upon miles of hiking trails, but perhaps the most popular amongst visitors is Dragon’s Back. Whether you’re a Lonely Planet lover or a DK Top 10 devotee, you’ll almost certainly have stumbled upon a passage or two on this well-loved walk as you flicked through your guidebook (or a bookshop’s – I’m not judging) ahead of your trip. I’ve been there, hiked the trail and would happily do so again tomorrow if it weren’t for the fact I’m now 5,000+ miles away.
Clinging to the verdant hillside above Sha Tin, in the heart of the New Territories, is Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (also known as Man Fat Tsz), a complex which marvels and mind-boggles in equal measure.
Hong Kong Island is synonymous with skyscrapers (and stellar hiking opportunities, but more on those another day), but islands replete with traditional temples, colourful fishing boats and three-storey tong laus aren’t far away. Cheung Chau is the third-largest of Hong Kong’s Outlying Islands – the largest and second-largest being Lantau Island and Lamma Island, respectively – and is best known for the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, which takes place annually and attracts hundreds of visitors to the island. Our visit didn’t coincide with this event, but fortunately there’s more than a mountain of red-bean paste buns to this islet.
Hong Kong is towering skyscrapers, colonial relics and ornate temples; it’s also rugged coastline, craggy peaks and beautiful flora. Hong Kong is bubble waffles, yum cha and char siu. Hong Kong is a place I could keep going back to and never tire of.
It was at this point in our trip that Hermione’s Time-Turner would have come in handy: there was so much left to see, but time simply wasn’t on our side. (I’m now treating this as a bona fide reason to return, affordable flights permitting.) After a fruity breakfast of longan (similar to lychee), mango and dragon fruit we set off for Tai Wo to meet Laurence’s aunt for dim sum at Jade Garden. Being a Saturday, it was insanely busy (read: 70 people ahead of us in the queue) so we changed plans and headed elsewhere. Service was slow by Hong Kong standards, but the pineapple buns, barbeque buns, vegetable spring rolls and pan-fried dumplings were sufficiently tasty. All’s well that ends well, as the saying goes. We then wandered round Tai Wo’s market, picking up some fresh mangosteen to eat later.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about our time in Hong Kong was the laid-back routine: feasting on seasonal fruit (mangoes, dragon fruit and lychee), devouring dim sum (which was delicious and reasonably priced to boot) and strolling around Sheung Shui before setting off on the adventure du jour. Adopting a more easy-going approach enabled us to recharge our batteries (since unlike the Duracell Bunny we can’t go at full pelt indefinitely) and made Hong Kong’s sky-high humidity levels and sweltering temperatures that bit more bearable.