Pearl River estuary from Nga Ying hilltop: A hiker's delight

November 14, 2015 08:02
A view of Tai O that lies at the end of a hiking trail on the southwest part of Lantau Island. Photo: HKEJ

As summer has come to an end, I made good use of the time and went on a demanding mountain hike at Southwest Lantau recently.

I climbed up the stony stairs at Sham Wat Road (深屈道) and arrived at Kwun Yam Shan (觀音山), where the view of Shek Pik and Shui Hau in the east was immensely captivating. The difficult section began as soon as I left the place.

Along the ridges of Kwun Yam Shan to Keung Shan (羗山), I found no sight of ginger as promised by the name of the hill.

Man Cheung Po campsite (萬丈布營地) is somewhere down the ridges, lying bare and quiet. On the way the sound of water streaming was getting louder. If you want to visit the waterfall, you have to be ready for an arduous trek. If not prepared, it is better to stick to the trail that takes you to Nga Ying Shan (牙鷹山).

Nga Ying Shan is so named as it looks like a fearless eagle with a sharp curved beak and spread-out wings.

Legend has it that a good son surnamed Tsui buried his father here at the hilltop. Since then the Tsui clan became affluent, thanks to the blessing of their ancestor. However, a black sheep of the family got into a row with someone, who then stole the ancestor’s cinerary urn in revenge. Immediately came the fall of the family.

Luckily wellbeing and wealth resumed when the family recovered the urn by following the ancestor's instructions which were given through mystic dreams.

Probably it is more like a moral story than a true one. Nevertheless, this place is definitely of good feng shui. Surrounded by baeckea, where tiny white flowers are seen at the end of the branches, I was embraced by the air filled with the aromatic scent that is exactly the same as the Chinese medicine -- white flower oil.

Take a turn down, on one side is Yi O (二澳) while on the right is Tai O (大澳). In recent years the villagers in Yi O have resumed farming. Hopefully the farming projects will scale up so that more people can try out the local goodies, which range from rice grains to other agricultural products.

Ling Ding Yang (伶仃洋), literally meaning the desolate sea, refers to the waters off from Yi O at Pearl River estuary. The gloomy feeling of wandering in exile was captured by a Chinese poem written by Wen Tianxiang – the scholar-general in the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty – while he was accompanying the royal members escaping from the soldiers sent by Kublai Khan.

Lastly I made to Fan Kwai Tong (番鬼塘), Tai O. During the Qing Dynasty, the Hollanders helped the Qing Dynasty beat the army of Koxinga – the loyal military leader of the former dynasty. After the victory, merchant ships from the Netherlands were then allowed to dock in the bay and the local villagers dubbed them fan kwai in Cantonese, aka "foreign devils".

Hence, the very first gweilo troops that set foot in Hong Kong were not the Brits in Victoria Harbor, but the Hollanders in Tai O of Lantau Island.

Getting there:

To go to Sham Wat Road: Take Lantau bus route 1 at Mui Wo bus terminal, or bus route 11 at Tung Chung, and get off at Sham Wat Road bus stop.

To return from Tai O Village: Take bus route 1 to Mui Wo ferry pier or bus route 11 to Tung Chung.

Time: About five hours

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 15.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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Shek Pik reservoir as seen from Kwun Yam Shan. Photo:
Ridges of Keung Shan as seen from a distance. Photo:
Hikers will find the sight of tiny aromatic white flowers at Nga Ying Shan enchanting. Photo: HKEJ

HKEJ contributor