26 October 2016
At its narrowest section, the Tai To Yan trail allows only one person at a time to proceed along it. Photo: HKEJ
At its narrowest section, the Tai To Yan trail allows only one person at a time to proceed along it. Photo: HKEJ

A steep climb to the summit of Tai To Yan

Tai To Yan (大刀屻) — “the blade of a broadsword” — is a treacherous peak with razor-sharp ridges and crags in Lam Tsuen Country Park in the northern New Territories that awaits fit and experienced adventure lovers.

Starting at the Pak Ngau Shek (白牛石) entrance, hikers have to climb more than 300 meters non-stop up an apparently endless stone staircase.

They will then find the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden beneath them.

Many Hongkongers may have heard of the farm but few may know very much about the Kadoorie family.

Originally Mizrahi Jews from Baghdad, Iraq, the family is one of the wealthiest in Asia.

Two of Hong Kong’s best-known companies — power firm CLP Holdings Ltd. (00002.HK) and Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd. (00045.HK), which runs The Peninsula Hotels — were founded by the Kadoories.

In 1951, the Kadoorie brothers Sir Horace and Lord Lawrence founded the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association (KAAA), providing refugees from mainland China, who were mostly farmers, with training, agricultural supplies and interest-free loans to make an independent living.

Five years later, the KAAA established an experimental and extension farm at Pak Ngau Shek (the present site of the farm) as a center to demonstrate effective and profitable techniques of crop production and animal husbandry.

It’s time to go up to the top of Tai To Yan.

At its narrowest section, the trail allows only one person at a time to proceed along it.

Seen from afar are Kai Kung Leng (雞公嶺) and Lam Tsuen Valley (林村谷).

On bright and sunny days, Yuen Long’s Kam Tin Plain can be seen in the west and Tai Po’s Tolo Harbor in the east.

Going along the ridge brings walkers to Pak (North) Tai To Yan (北大刀屻), where Hong Lok Yuen comes into sight.

Before the residential development was built, it was an olive orchard owned by Li Fook-lam, who was one of the key members of the Tongmenghui, a secret organization founded by the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen.

Not long afterward, the dangerous trail transforms into the smooth, well-paved Wu Tip Shan Path (蝴蝶山徑) — the Butterfly Hill Path — a popular walking trail for morning hikers in Fanling.

Known as a palace for butterflies, the place teems with flowers, which also attract many bees.

Next to the Taoist temple Fung Ying Seen Koon (蓬瀛仙館) is a famous local bee farm.

A stop there is a perfect break for a refreshing honey drink to reward yourself after a tough walk.

Getting there:

To go to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden: Take KMB bus 64K from Tai Po Market bus terminal.

To return from Fung Ying Seen Koon: Walk about five minutes to Fanling MTR station.

Time: About four hours

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 4.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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