On a cheeky layover in Hong Kong, I managed to score a weekend on the tiny island and having been surrounded by people all week, longed for the quiet escape that every city has secretly tucked away. The enclave of the CDB is surrounded by lush beautiful forests, most easily accessed from the cable car up Mount Victoria. For the more adventurous, but train bound explorer the southeast offers some interesting areas to walk, namely the Dragons Back.
The Dragons Back arguably the most scenic section of the 50km Hong Kong Trail, stretches 8.5km through the Shek O Country Park. Aptly named as it undulates along the ridge, Shek O Peak at 284 provides commanding panoramic views across Shek O, Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea.
Following church in a quaint little enclave cut steep into the hill side just out of view of the hotels and business district, I make my way to the Hong Kong Metro. A surging underground arterial that throngs with people during weekdays, it takes on a more casual pace on weekends.
I’m off the to the end of the line, Chai Wan. Exiting the station the tropical moisture laden air hits you with a shock and the short respite from the stifling humidity is over. The path starts high on the hill and after negotiating narrow street turns and walking through an amazingly large cemetery also carved into the side of the hill, you enter the park.
HikeHongkong has a well detailed blog with Direction to the Dragons Back
With little change in elevation the thick forest offers scant refuge from the humidity, but does shelter from the heat. The path is easy going and at the main intersection there are beautiful views over the South China Sea and nearby island chains.
Veering left the trail begins to climb before reaching the true start of the Dragons Back. Thickly vegetated it is a haven for small birds and insects. small waterfalls dot the higher slope and their crisp water rejuvenates my overheating body.
The weather is moody, with light squalls intersecting the land, the forest mists like a mountain, but it does not quench the heat.
With vegetation thinning the hint of a sea breeze can be felt, climbing its way over the ridge. Before long the vegetation is no more than knee high and the resort towns of Stanley and others come into view. Unrelenting the trail is now up to Shek O peak the highest point on this walk.
The air is so thick with humidity, my hands and fingers are swollen and I can no longer close them into a fist. My wedding ring which normally slides off with relative easy is firmly entrenched with no escape over the knuckle. I cannot drink enough to replace how much I am sweating and am thankful for the subtle breeze that brings a feeling of relief.
Hong Kong’s weather is very similar to the climate I grew up in Australia’s coastal Northern Territory, so I’m well prepared with water. If not a little un-acclimatized having lived in Victoria for so many years.
Shek O Peak shrouds itself in mist, revealing only the faintest hint of its towering mass through jungle like vegetation that teases you with every small up and down along its flank. The trail now a clay consistency is slippery like ice with the squalls lubricating enough to make footing a treacherous exercise. Carefully step by step I make it to the stairs and the final ascent, curiously there are markings along side the stairs indicating a bike path. I wouldn’t have considered this a riding trail but there you go
The weather clears as I make the top revealing the exclusive Shek O area, with its beautiful coastal mansions, beaches and nearby islands. It reminds me of my home town in Old Greenwich Connecticut, during our expat years.
From the peak it is a leisurely meander down to the road into Shek O with more great vistas of Stanley and the forest peaks surrounding. Here you can choose to take the bus back to Hong Kong City or make the visit into Shek O. I opt for the latter enjoying an afternoon at the beach. The rocky foreshore of the shoulder headlands protects a beautiful sandy stretch where for a price you to can recline in a beach chair complete with umbrella and live like you own the place.
On my return I opt to get off at Shau Wei Wan and experience the traditional meat and vegetable market. With photography as a passion I love the pursuit of capturing cultures and moments on camera that best reflect the people and their lives. The markets offer unlimited opportunities for this
A ride a top of a Hong Kong tram allows me to soak in this great city, its atmosphere and more opportunities to capture those amazing moments the cause us to feel something deep inside for how our fellow humans live.