The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has barred hikers and other unauthorized people from entering Por Lo Shan, a hiking trail in Tuen Mun that is under its control, as it undertakes a clearing of illegal farms in the area covered by the Tsing Shan Firing Range.
On Monday morning many hikers who arrived at Por Lor Shan, more popularly known as the Mini Grand Canyon, were turned away by PLA officers stationed at the entrance, Apple Daily reports.
According to hk01.com, the PLA put out notices in the area warning that intruders could face prosecution.
Three PLA soldiers guarding the entrance told disappointed hikers that they were clearing out illegal farms inside the Tsing Shan Firing Range.
The soldiers made no comments when asked whether people entering the area would be arrested or whether they were reopening the Tsing Shan Firing Range.
A man surnamed Tsang, who had come all the way from Sha Tin, said he comes to Tuen Mun twice a week to take care of his grandchild, and uses the occasion to visit the Mini Grand Canyon for its beautiful scenery.
He said the new PLA restriction would not stop him from walking up the mountain, but this time he would use a small trail from Leung King Estate.
He said he was not worried about getting caught and arrested.
Another hiker, Mr. Liu, arrived at the area around 6 a.m. on Monday, using his mountain bike.
He said he came before the PLA soldiers arrived, and he did not know the range had been closed down until he was leaving the area.
Liu said the firing range is suitable for mountain bike training because of its terrain, adding that he once saw the Hong Kong mountain biking team train in the area.
Another hiker surnamed Tung said he was able to hike up the mountain via a small trail at Leung Tin Au, but warned that the trail was slippery and dangerous.
He said he had met PLA troops patrolling the area who told him the place was declared off-limits to hikers.
Erik, an ecotourism guide, told hk01.com that there are also firing ranges in other popular hiking sites like Ling To Tsz and Castle Peak.
He said the illegal farms mentioned in the PLA notices had been there over the past two to three years.
Erik suspects the PLA decided to remove the farms after extensive media reports about the mountain made it a popular hiking destination.
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