The 16-kilometer Tung O Ancient Trail between Tung Chung and Tai O connecting numerous indigenous villages of north Lantau is the best way to walk through the history and development of the island.
Hau Wong Temple (侯王宮), next to Yat Tung Estate at Tung Chung town center, was built during the Qianlong period (1735-1796) of the Qing Dynasty and is listed as one of the Grade II historic buildings of Hong Kong.
The temple celebrates the loyalty of the Marquis Yang Liangjie (楊亮節) who provided protection to the Southern Song dynasty’s last emperors, Xia and Bing, in Kowloon and on Lantau.
The spiritual site has served fishermen and villagers by warding off evil and endemic diseases, believers say.
Following the path along the football pitch of Tung Chung Playground will bring you to Tung Chung River, where a wealth of shorebirds rest.
Waiting ahead is the 400-year-old San Tau Village.
Left behind in the nearly deserted village are a small rural school and a row of traditional Hakka houses.
At Sha Lo Wan, as well as visiting the ancient two-century-old temple, you should see its giant camphor trees, one of which has a history of over 1,000 years.
But because the temple is so close to the airport, it is too noisy to stay for long.
At low tide, you can observe an abundant variety of wildlife in the mudflats and mangrove forests of Sham Wat Wan.
However, the megastructure of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, now being built in the background, inevitably ruins one’s peace of mind.
As you climb Cheung Shan (象山), you can finally leave the concrete path behind and start enjoying a natural trail in the wild.
At a higher altitude, clusters of Tai O stilt houses can be seen from a distance.
As you descend, you will encounter the North Lantau Obelisk.
It was erected in 1902 to mark the boundary of the New Territories. It is a key relic of Hong Kong’s colonial past.
Then you should take time to walk around Tai O — the Venice of Hong Kong — to buy a jar or brick of locally made shrimp paste or to explore the Tai O Heritage Hotel, converted from the former police station.
Much of the landscape of the island has been altered — or worse, destroyed — thanks to major infrastructure projects on and around it.
Discussions about striking a balance between urban development and the conservation of nature on Lantau Island should become a focus of attention in Hong Kong.
To go to Tung Chung town center: Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station.
To return from Tai O: Take bus route 11 to Tung Chung.
Time: About four hours
Reference: Government website (with map)
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 29.
Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]