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Lesson 1: Start a hike by catching a boat to the correct island. Lesson 2: Hike around the Chi Ma Wan peninsula and all your earlier stupidity will be long forgotten.
After a light day of walking yesterday, it is time to get back out there are try something big, Chi Ma Wan Country Trail big. I heard about this trail, which is located on the Chi Ma Wan Peninsula on Lantau Island's south-eastern shores, from the Hike Hong Kong Blog and had to give it a go.
It is going to be a long day so I get up early and make tracks for the bus to Central Ferry Pier No.6. The ferry to Mui Wo leaves from Hong Kong Island a little after 6am and takes around an hour. Even though it is still night, the sparkling city lights provide good entertainment as the ferry speeds along. I am amazed how many people are on the ferry at this time of the morning, I never realised Lantau Island, let alone Mui Wo was such a popular transport route.
I check on my phone to see where I am on the water. Why is the boat making a turn north? There must be a big ship in the way and the ferry has to divert around it. But I can't see any ship. Why are we continuing north towards Peng Chau? Why are we docking at Peng Chau? Why is everyone getting off? Why am I such an idiot? I caught the wrong @%$#! ferry! How the hell did I do that? Can I get to Mui Wo from here? I can, but the next service is hours away. @%$#! this! I am such an idiot! Back to @%$#! Hong Kong Island I guess it is for me. So I get on the same ferry and head back to Hong Kong Island (in hindsight I probably could have just spent the day exploring Peng Chau, I hear it's nice).
On the way back to Hong Kong Island I am steaming. How could I be so stupid? I find out that both the Peng Chau and the Mui Wo ferry leave from Pier No. 6, but Peng Chau leaves from the left and Mui Wo from the right. A rookie mistake. I slowly calm down as I reach Central Ferry Pier No.6 and decide to start my journey all over again, this time from the right side of the pier. Luckily for me, the next ferry to Mui Wo leaves soon and an hour later I am on the correct island, Lantau Island. I am two hours later than expected. I really could have used those two hours of sleep.
After a short bus trip from Mui Wo Ferry Pier to Pui O, I am ready to start a day hiking. From South Lantau Road a concrete path near the bus stop heads south-east through fields towards the hamlet of Ham Tin. In the distance, I can see my destination.
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As I make my way along Chi Ma Wan Road (also Section 12 of the Lantau Trail) I say hello to a Ham Tin local.
Yep, that's a wild water buffalo sitting on the side of the road. I wonder how many of those I will come across today. Hope they are all as friendly as her.
Further along Chi Ma Wan Road, I reach Pui O Tin Hau Temple on Pui O Beach.
The Tin Hau Temple has the most brilliant views across Pui O Wan and to the misty peaks of Lantau Island.
Another 700m up Chi Ma Wan Road I find the beginning of the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail. It took longer than expected, but I made it. Glad I didn't give up. Think it is going to be a brilliant day.
I am going to hike the trail in a clockwise direction. That means the start of hike involves scaling Lo Yan Shan. Of course, the walk is a little steep ...
but the further I ascend the more stunning the scenery ...
up a little further ...
I hit a peak (not Lo Yan Shan, not sure if this peak has a name or not) with spectacular 360-degree views. The most spectacular being over Pui O Wan.
The rocky peak is the perfect spot for a rest. I need it after scaling all those stairs.
I continue my hike along the ridgeline to Lo Yan Shan and take in the brilliant views along the way.
Soon enough I am at Lo Yan Shan, the highest peak on the Chi Ma Wan peninsula.
The views are ok, but not as good as the ones I have seen recently.
On Lo Yan Shan there is an unusual building.
Supposedly this is a hill fire lookout. I guess it isn't manned in the winter.
It's time to descend. The path gets a little overgrown in sections. I'm a bit worried about snakes so I stamp my feet on the way down to warn any critters hiding in the dried out grasses.
The further I head down the deeper I am surrounded by vegetation. No panoramic views around here.
I get a break from the dense vegetation when I reach the Shap Long Reservoir.
Back on the dirt track nothing that exciting happens for a while, just more thick vegetation. However, there are heaps of boulders appearing on the track.
I am entering Ha Keng and "Rock Wonder", the easterly stretch of the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail where large granite boulders dot the hillsides.
Not only are there cool rock formations but brilliant water views as well.
The stretch of water between the Chi Ma Wan Peninsula and Cheung Chau Island, the so-called Admasta Channel was busy with sea craft. I even got to see my first ever hydrofoil. I think these boats are ferrying people between Hong Kong and the popular gambling destination of Macau.
As "Rock Wonder" ends the path heads north and back into the vegetation, but not before some great views over Tai Long Wan.
Funnily enough, as I head back into the lush vegetation the sun comes out and blue skies appear. Where were you before when I had spectacular views over Admasta Channel?
Oh well, at least the walk under the vegetation isn't so dark anymore.
It isn't only myself enjoying the speckled sunlight. A few meters away I notice some movement on the trail. SNAKE! A bamboo snake to be exact, about 20cm long. They are venomous, but supposedly rarely lethal. The snake was definitely more scared of me than I was of it, as it slithered quickly off the path and into the vegetation. Too quick for me to take a picture, unfortunately.
With that excitement out of the way, I continue the hike under the shade of trees. No real views to speak of until I approach Yi Long Wan. Unfortunately, the blue skies have disappeared again.
As I round the south-west corner of the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail I am offered views to the island of Shek Kwu Chau ...
and over Pui O Wan and the peaks of Lantau Island.
It is here that I take the advice of Hike Hong Kong Blog and depart the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail to take the scenic route along the shoreline. Head left here.
I'm glad I took the advice. At the bottom of the hill, there is a jetty and a small beach with outstanding views of Pui O Wan and to the peaks of Lantau.
A perfect spot for a rest before I make the final leg back to Pui O township. As I sit on the beach I notice some unusual footprints in the sand.
I didn't know water buffalo enjoyed strolls by the beach.
After a good rest watching the still waters of Pui O Wan I continue my walk. The dirt paths are gone and the way completely paved. However, the views continue through the vegetation.
Throughout the walk, I have hardly seen anyone, which is probably to be expected as it is a weekday. Just the occasional group of hikers or trail runners. I meet someone a little different on the concrete path back to Pui O.
It was very nice of her to move to the side so I could easily pass. I wish all hikers were like her. However, I'm glad other hikers are a bit more discrete with their bodily waste.
Keep an eye out along here as you might be taking something home with you on your shoe.
After dodging water buffalo pats I arrive again at Pui O Beach. This time, the views are even more amazing.
What a great hike, so glad I stuck with it after the transport disaster this morning. Time to head back to Pui O and take the bus to Mui Wo.
In total, the walk was about 20km long and took me 7 hours. I also took about 400 photographs so the walk is very photogenic. Take your time with this one and enjoy the views. Just remember to take a boat to Lantau Island, not Peng Chau (I am such an idiot sometimes).
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