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.
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 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.
Lion Rock is by no means the highest peak in Hong Kong, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in stellar views of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Though the humidity had crept above 80% and the scorching sun was well over 30°C, this was one of my favourite days in Hong Kong – and the cheeky rhesus macaques weren’t the only reason why!
Whilst many prospective visitors may get the impression that Hong Kong is simply a maze of bustling streets, overcrowded tourist hotspots and seemingly endless skyscrapers, any Hong Kong veteran can tell you there’s another side to Hong Kong just waiting to be discovered: secluded beaches, hiking trails and adventures off the beaten track await those who take the time to find them. Luckily for me, I had three such people to show me what is often dubbed as “The Real Hong Kong”.