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Journey To The Very End.

A Visit to Tai Mei Tuk.

sunny

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Yesterday, I decided to return to Tai Po to visit the nearby area of Tai Mei Tuk. Tai Mei Tuk translates into English as The Very End. Apparently it's called this, because it is the furthest of fourteen inhabited villages situated along the coast here

Tai Mei Tuk is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is on both the Tolo Harbour and the Plover Cove Reservoir. The Pat Sin Leng Mountain Range forms its backdrop.

Pat Sin Leng means Ridge of the Eight Immortals. It is a mountain range with eight peaks and each peak is called after a different immortal from Chinese mythology. I have not hiked this trail yet. It's supposed to be a pretty tough trail with lots of steps to climb up at the beginning and down at the end. In addition, hikers must repeatedly go up and down while walking along the ridge, but the views from here are supposed to be spectacular. There are different ways to walk Pat Sin Leng, but many people do it following the Wilson Trail Section Nine starting from the Hok Tau Reservoir and finishing near Tai Mei Tuk. This trail is around 12 kilometres long and takes around 5 hours.

There was a terrible tragedy here in February 1996 when wild fires suddenly broke out and surrounded a group of teachers and pupils who were out on a school excursion. Two teachers and three pupils died in this incident and thirteen people were injured. A pavilion, known as the Spring Breeze Pavilion, was built as a memorial to those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

Pat Sin Leng. Count the bumps, there should be eight.

Pat Sin Leng. Count the bumps, there should be eight.

To get to Tai Mei Tuk, I travelled to Tai Po Market Station, walked to the nearby bus station, and boarded a 75K bus which terminates at Tai Mei Tuk Bus Station.

On the journey to Tai Mei Tuk, I passed through the Tai Po Industrial Zone, which is located behind the Tai Po Waterfront Park that I visited in my last blog. Most of this, as you would expect, was nondescript and grim, but there was one piece of industry that had really attempted to turn ugly into beautiful and in my view had succeeded. Do you agree?

I like that they've tried to make this look nice.

I like that they've tried to make this look nice.

The other interesting thing to look at on the journey is the Tze Shan Monastery with its huge Kuan Yin Statue. Kuan Yin is the goddess of mercy in Buddhism. This monastery was created by one of Hong Kong's richest men, Li Ka Shing. He spent HK$1.5 billion on it and it took twelve years to complete. It's not possible to just turn up here to visit. The monks want to maintain an atmosphere of peace and quiet. They do not appreciate crowds. You must pre-book and there's a waiting list to get in. It's free to visit though and I'm considering trying to sign up. The monastery occupies 500,000 square feet. The Kuan Yin Statue is 76 metres tall, which makes it the biggest Kuan Yin in the world. She is twice the size of the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. I haven't been there yet but apparently Tsz Shan Monastery also has a Grand Buddha Hall, a Universal Hall, a Great Vow Hall, a lecture hall, a bodhi tree, beautiful gardens and a pond.

Kuan Yin peering out of the trees

Kuan Yin peering out of the trees

Kuan Yin looming above the village.

Kuan Yin looming above the village.

Kuan Yin looming above the village.

Kuan Yin looming above the village.

When I arrived at Tai Mei Tuk, I headed towards Tolo Harbour. There were boats for hire here. Many of them were shaped like swans or ducks . There were also kiosks where you could book boat trips or water sports activities. Some of these kiosks were also cafes. In addition there were picnic and barbecue sites, all currently sealed off due to COVID. There were beautiful views out over the water from here. This whole area is very peaceful.

Tolo Harbour Waterfront.

Tolo Harbour Waterfront.

Tolo Harbour Waterfront.

Tolo Harbour Waterfront.

Tolo Harbour Waterfront.

Tolo Harbour Waterfront.

Pier on Tolo Harbour.

Pier on Tolo Harbour.

Boats on the harbour.

Boats on the harbour.

Bikes by the harbour.

Bikes by the harbour.

View over Tolo Harbour.

View over Tolo Harbour.

Pavilion where you can sit in the shade

Pavilion where you can sit in the shade

Waterfront Kiosk.

Waterfront Kiosk.

Waterfront Kiosk.

Waterfront Kiosk.

Barbecue Site, Tai Mei Tuk.

Barbecue Site, Tai Mei Tuk.

It is possible to cycle all the way to Tai Mei Tuk from Tai Wai on cycle paths. The cycle tracks get very busy at weekends and even on a week day there were many cyclists around. This area is also popular with people learning to cycle, as I observed when I was watching people fall off their bikes on the dam later. I'm not too good at cycling myself.

Cycling past the village.

Cycling past the village.

Cycling to Tai Mei Tuk.

Cycling to Tai Mei Tuk.

Tai Mei Tuk is a village and there are lots of attractive village houses here. I think it would be a very pleasant and peaceful place to live from Monday to Friday, not so sure about Saturday and Sunday though, when the crowds descend.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

After looking at the waterfront, I headed left towards Plover Cove Dam. On the way I passed the Bradbury Youth Hostel. Since there are many beautiful, but very long walks from here, it may be a good idea to stay overnight.

Near the Bradbury Youth Hostel the walls were covered with pictures about road safety designed by high school students.

Near the Bradbury Youth Hostel the walls were covered with pictures about road safety designed by high school students.

Near the Bradbury Youth Hostel the walls were covered with pictures about road safety designed by high school students.

Near the Bradbury Youth Hostel the walls were covered with pictures about road safety designed by high school students.

Near the Bradbury Youth Hostel the walls were covered with pictures about road safety designed by high school students.

Near the Bradbury Youth Hostel the walls were covered with pictures about road safety designed by high school students.



The Bradbury Youth Hostel.

The Bradbury Youth Hostel.

On the way to the Plover Cove Dam, I saw a sign for the Tai Mei Tuk Family Walk. I had read that this was quite easy and involved four beautiful viewpoints. When I visited it was 33 degrees and there was absolutely no breeze. It wasn't even easy to put one foot in front of the other, but I decided to give the family trail a go nonetheless.

I'm nearly positive that I read a description of this trail as flat. That's an odd word here. To me that implies if you were in a wheelchair or pushing your child in a stroller, you could do this trail easily. To a Hong Konger, it seems to mean it isn't as high as many other trails. This is an easy and short trail. I would highly recommend it. It is really beautiful, but it does have some, admittedly not many, but some stairs.

I could not remember how long this trail was supposed to take and I could not see a signpost with distances or estimated times. I read later it should take around forty minutes. It took me exactly forty minutes and that included stopping to take lots of photos. I began by climbing some stairs. although it was hot for most of this walk I was in the trees, so it was shaded.

Signpost at the start of the family walk.

Signpost at the start of the family walk.

Boat house near the start of the walk.

Boat house near the start of the walk.

Start of the walk, define flat?

Start of the walk, define flat?

After a very short time, around just five or ten minutes, I arrived at viewpoint number one. This looks out over the Plover Cove Dam. To the right of this dam is Tolo Harbour, to the left is the Plover Cove Reservoir.

Plover Cove Reservoir is quite special. It is the second largest reservoir in Hong Kong and it was apparently the world's first reservoir in the sea. To create this reservoir, engineers built a two kilometre long dam to cut off a sea inlet, pumped out all the sea water to the left of the dam and filled that area with fresh water. The reservoir now has a capacity of 230 million cubic metres. Long ago before the creation of the dam, this area was well known for pearl production.

Viewpoint One looks out over Plover Cove Dam.

Viewpoint One looks out over Plover Cove Dam.

Viewpoint One looks out over Plover Cove Dam.

Viewpoint One looks out over Plover Cove Dam.

The walk from Lookout Point One to Lookout Point Two was mercifully short in the heat. There is a little covered pavilion at Lookout Point Number Two, so you can actually sit here and be out of the sun.

The information board here explains that prior to the construction of Plover Cove Reservoir, there were six Hakka villages situated in this area. The villages were home to about one thousand people. These villagers were relocated to Tai Po New Town when their homes were covered by water. In the distance it's possible to see a second smaller dam.

Climbing up to Lookout Point Two.

Climbing up to Lookout Point Two.

View from Lookout Point Two.

View from Lookout Point Two.

Lookout Point Two.

Lookout Point Two.

Lookout Point Two. There's a smaller dam in the distance.

Lookout Point Two. There's a smaller dam in the distance.

When I was walking from Lookout Point Two to Lookout Point Three, I suddenly noticed a family walk sign with a monkey on it. Since monkeys are common in certain areas of Hong Kong and since they can be annoying and even aggressive if you have food, I thought it was a warning sign. I looked around me wondering where the monkeys were. As I walked on a bit, I came across a similar sign but with a chicken on it. This totally threw me for a moment, as I puzzled over why I should beware of the chicken. Then I suddenly realised that the signs were following the order of the Chinese zodiac from rat to pig and were not warning signs at all.

Family Walk Post Monkey.

Family Walk Post Monkey.

Family Walk Post Rooster.

Family Walk Post Rooster.

Lookout Point Three looks over the village of Tai Mei Tuk and towards the Pat Sin Leng Mountain Range. As this point had a trigonometrical marker, I take it it must have been the highest point of the walk. The views are certainly lovely from here.

View from Lookout Point Three.

View from Lookout Point Three.

Lookout Point Three.

Lookout Point Three.

Lookout Point Three.

Lookout Point Three.

Lookout Point Three.

Lookout Point Three.

Zoomed View of Kuan Yin from Lookout Point Three.

Zoomed View of Kuan Yin from Lookout Point Three.

View from Lookout Point Three.

View from Lookout Point Three.

Trigonometrical marker at Lookout Point Three.

Trigonometrical marker at Lookout Point Three.

Selfie at Lookout Point Three.

Selfie at Lookout Point Three.

Walking between Lookout Point Three and Four I past a large village grave where some pretty flowers had fallen onto the ground from the surrounding trees

Fallen flowers near a village grave.

Fallen flowers near a village grave.

Fallen flowers near a village grave.

Fallen flowers near a village grave.

Lookout Point Four looks out over Tolo Harbour and several of its islands. There are also good views of the new artificial beach and far in the distance the Kuan Yin Statue.

Looking out over Tai Mei Tuk and the new Lung Mei Beach .

Looking out over Tai Mei Tuk and the new Lung Mei Beach .

Looking out over the islands.

Looking out over the islands.

View from Lookout Point Four.

View from Lookout Point Four.

View from Lookout Point Four.

View from Lookout Point Four.

Zooming in on the new beach from Lookout Point Four.

Zooming in on the new beach from Lookout Point Four.

Zooming in on Kuan Yin from Lookout Point Four.

Zooming in on Kuan Yin from Lookout Point Four.

View over new beach from Lookout Point Four.

View over new beach from Lookout Point Four.

View over Tolo Harbour from Lookout Point Four.

View over Tolo Harbour from Lookout Point Four.

Next to Lookout Point Four there were some very beautiful flowering bushes.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Very soon after leaving the final lookout point, I found myself back at the start of the trail. When I looked at the trail marker with the year of the rat on it. I understood why I had not realised these were zodiac animals. It looked more like a scribble than a rat.

Does that look like a rat to you? I wasn't impressed.

Does that look like a rat to you? I wasn't impressed.

I decided to walk to the Plover Cove Reservoir Dam. This area is popular with walkers, cyclists and kite fliers. Although this was a very still day, it must get very windy here, judging from the number of kites tangled up in the trees.

Kite graveyard next to the reservoir.

Kite graveyard next to the reservoir.

Kite graveyard next to the reservoir.

Kite graveyard next to the reservoir.

Momentary gust of wind at the Kite graveyard next to the reservoir.

Momentary gust of wind at the Kite graveyard next to the reservoir.

The Plover Cove Reservoir Dam is 2 kilometres long and 28 metres high. It joins Tai Mei Tuk to an island in the Tolo Harbour. I went about halfway across, as it was soooo hot and there were other things I wanted to see before I got sun stroke. There's a water sports centre near the start of the dam.

Plover Cove Reservoir was built because Hong Kong did not have enough natural inland bodies of water to meet the water consumption needs of its growing population. As I mentioned before, this area was once a sea inlet, surrounded by land on three sides, so only one side needed to be cut off by a large dam - the Plover Cove Main Dam. Three smaller service dams were also built. The cove was then drained and converted into a freshwater lake. Construction work was completed in 1968. The reservoir catches rain water and also stores water imported by pipes from the East River in China. The fresh water in the reservoir is supposed to be a different colour from the sea water on the other side of the dam. Not sure that I really noticed this at the time, though I can see it in my photos. It may be more pronounced in certain lights.

There's a long and difficult walking trail here, too - the Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail. This is an 18km trail that encircles Plover Cove Reservoir. It crosses many mountain ranges and ends up at the Plover Cove Reservoir main dam.

Commemorative plaque at the start of the dam.

Commemorative plaque at the start of the dam.

View of the dam.

View of the dam.

Bicycles everywhere.

Bicycles everywhere.

Can you see a difference in colour? I can in my photos, not sure I was so aware of it in reality.

Can you see a difference in colour? I can in my photos, not sure I was so aware of it in reality.

The Plover Cove Reservoir Side.

The Plover Cove Reservoir Side.

The Tolo Harbour Side.

The Tolo Harbour Side.

Walkers and cyclists crossing the dam.

Walkers and cyclists crossing the dam.

Cyclists crossing the Plover Cove Main Dam.

Cyclists crossing the Plover Cove Main Dam.

Wonder if this cyclist popped off for a swim.

Wonder if this cyclist popped off for a swim.

Fisherman deciding where he'll get the best catch.

Fisherman deciding where he'll get the best catch.

Selfie on dam.

Selfie on dam.

Looking back from the Plover Cove Dam.

Looking back from the Plover Cove Dam.

Water Sports Centre.

Water Sports Centre.

Looking back towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking back towards Tai Mei Tuk.

After looking at the dam, I wondered back to Tai Mei Tuk Village. I walked along the waterfront and wandered along the main road looking at the restaurants that line it. You can get many different kinds of food here. The restaurants are generally supposed to be good and they are certainly in a beautiful setting.

The Village of Lung Mei next to Tai Mei Tuk.

The Village of Lung Mei next to Tai Mei Tuk.

Restaurant.

Restaurant.

Restaurant.

Restaurant.

Restaurant.

Restaurant.

I next took a look at Lung Mei Beach.This is a 200 metre long artificial beach on Tolo Harbour. It's construction was very controversial, with environmentalists saying it would destroy many marine habitats and locals saying it would bring even larger crowds at weekends. It opened in July 2021.

At the moment this beach is sealed off behind huge plastic barriers, just like Big Wave Bay Beach. I noticed an overheated kid sitting near the beach, berating his mum because she wouldn't let him go swimming. I knew just how he felt and just how frustrated his mum must have felt trying to explain that it's government policy to close everything down you can swim in. It is claimed that swimming will return to Hong Kong some time in May. I certainly hope so.

This beach has changing rooms, toilets, showers and Life guards.

Lung Mei Beach.

Lung Mei Beach.

[Lung Mei Beach.

Lung Mei Beach.

Lung Mei Beach.

Lung Mei Beach.

Lung Mei Beach.

Lung Mei Beach.

After looking at the beach, I jumped on a 20C minibus back to Tai Po. The driver was really grumpy, or perhaps just deaf. A woman called out to get off and when he didn't stop, the whole minibus called out on her behalf. The driver then had a tirade about not stopping because noone had asked him to. This tirade went on for some time and he kept driving all the way through it. Fortunately, the woman concerned found it funny and didn't seem to mind walking all the way back to her stop.

I wanted to get off before Tai Po Market Station, because I wanted to visit the railway museum. However, I accidentally got off too soon and ended up in modern Tai Po on the other side of the Lam Tsuen River. I didn't mind as I had not really investigated here. It's a bit concretey and samey with the rest of built-up Hong Kong. I did visit Tai Po Central Town Square which had fountains and an interesting statue. I also found some nice art work on the walls of a school.

Tai Po Central Town Square.

Tai Po Central Town Square.

Tai Po Central Town Square.

Tai Po Central Town Square.

Art work Tai Po Central Square.

Art work Tai Po Central Square.

Art work on school wall.

Art work on school wall.

Art work on school wall.

Art work on school wall.

Art work on school wall.

Art work on school wall.

Art work on school wall.

Art work on school wall.

It took me a while to orientate myself and find my way back to the river and old Tai Po. I passed a little rest garden I had not noticed before then headed to the Railway Museum.

Tai Po Rest Garden.

Tai Po Rest Garden.

When I tried to visit this museum a couple of days ago it was closed, because it was a Tuesday. I made the effort to go all the way back and was delighted to see it was open.

To get into almost anything here at the moment, you need a vaccine pass on your phone. I've been using that successfully until last Wednesday. Peter and I went out for a meal, scanned the QR-code for our vaccine pass and it flashed up unvaccinated. We've both had three vaccines. The waitress was very apologetic and polite, but we had to leave the restaurant without getting served. To try and fix this I ended up returning my phone to factory settings and losing so much stuff. I reinstalled the leave home safe app and my vaccination certificates. It appeared to be working all right. I put my phone on the QR-code scanner for entry to the museum and would you believe it, it flashed up unvaccinated. I was livid.

I explained to the museum staff that I was vaccinated. They said no problem, just show us the paper copy of your certificates. I said those are in my house. Anyway eventually they let me in by scanning the QR-code on a photo I had taken of my certificate. What a palaver. I'm so frustrated with that app.

Anyway, enough of my moaning. The Hong Kong Railway Museum centres around the old Tai Po Market Railway Station which was built in 1913. It is designed in traditional Chinese style with a typical pitched roof. It looks rather like a temple. This station was taken out of service in 1983 when the Kowloon Canton Railway was electrified. The new Tai Wo Station was built north of this station and the new Tai Po Market Station was built south of it.The old station building was preserved as a heritage building and opened as a museum in 1985.

Inside the station building there are some historical items and photos related to the old KCR or Kowloon Canton Railway, which started operation in 1910. I liked that stored value passes were on display as a historical item. I had these for my first few years in Hong Kong before the octopus was introduced. Talk about feeling old. Wonder what other commonplace items from my past are now museum exhibits.

As well as the exhibits inside the station, there are also several old trains on display. You can get on one of these and wander through the carriages. You will see what first, second and third class compartments looked like in the past. There's also an old steam locomotive and a 1950's Australia-made diesel electric engine. They also had the old-fashioned hand operated pump cars you see in black and white, silent movies. I felt like leaping on and chasing some baddies.

The Hong Kong Railway Museum is free to enter. It is located at 13 Shung Tak Street, Tai Po.

Old Tai Po Market Station Sign.

Old Tai Po Market Station Sign.

Old Tai Po Market Station Sign.

Old Tai Po Market Station Sign.

The old station building.

The old station building.

The old station building.

The old station building.

Old booking office window.

Old booking office window.

Inside the station.

Inside the station.

Inside the station.

Inside the station.

Old Photo showing Kowloon Canton Railway Terminal in TST. Only the clocktower still remains.

Old Photo showing Kowloon Canton Railway Terminal in TST. Only the clocktower still remains.

Old Photo of the KCR.

Old Photo of the KCR.

Old Photo of the KCR.

Old Photo of the KCR.

Museum Display.

Museum Display.

Museum Display.

Museum Display.

Stored value passes.

Stored value passes.

In the outdoor area of the station you can see the first diesel-electric locomotive in Hong Kong, the Sir Alexander, called after former governor Sir Alexander Grantham. It was introduced in 1955 and retired from service in 2003 after a new batch of diesel locomotives arrived in Hong Kong. KCR staff spent more than 1000 hours restoring it to its original 1955 appearance. This involved removing rust, repainting it dark green, and restoring the traditional logo. The locomotive was donated to the museum in 2004.

The First diesel-electric locomotive in Hong Kong.

The First diesel-electric locomotive in Hong Kong.

The first diesel-electric locomotive in Hong Kong marked the KCR's transition from steam to diesel.

The first diesel-electric locomotive in Hong Kong marked the KCR's transition from steam to diesel.

The locomotive was called "Sir Alexander" after former Governor Alexander Grantham.

The locomotive was called "Sir Alexander" after former Governor Alexander Grantham.

Lady Maurine Diesel Electric Locomotive No.52 named after Governor Grantham's wife.

Lady Maurine Diesel Electric Locomotive No.52 named after Governor Grantham's wife.

Selfie with station.

Selfie with station.

There is an old steam engine, an A W. G. Bagnall 0-4-4PT narrow gauge steam locomotive, which used to run on the narrow gauge Sha Tau Kok Railway line between Fanling and Sha Tau Kok. When that closed down, the engine was sold to the Philippines who used it for their sugar mills. It was repurchased from there and restored in 1995. A second steam engine was also repurchased at the same time and was supposed to be restored to working order, but it ended up being donated to a narrow gauge railway in Wales.

Actually I looked up the Sha Tau Kok Railway Spur Line as I had never heard of it. It operated between Fan Ling and Sha Tau Kok from 1912 to 1928. It travelled through five stations: Fanling, Hung Leng, Wo Hang, Shek Chung and Sha Tau Kok. It took 55 minutes for the 12kms route. Many people used it to visit a large cemetery at Wo Hop Shek, so they could tend their ancestral graves there. The line was closed in 1928 when a road was built connecting these areas.

Old Steam Engine.

Old Steam Engine.

Old Steam Engine.

Old Steam Engine.

Old Railway Building.

Old Railway Building.

There are seven different carriages you can board and even sit in to get an idea of what the old trains were like. I believe these compartments come from seven different trains, all representing different historic periods.

Old train and old railway line on left, new modern MTR line on right.

Old train and old railway line on left, new modern MTR line on right.

Old train compartments.

Old train compartments.

Old train compartments.

Old train compartments.

Old train compartments.

Old train compartments.

First class compartment.

First class compartment.

Selfie in third class.

Selfie in third class.

Second class compartment.

Second class compartment.

Third class compartment.

Third class compartment.

I then did a bit of shopping and headed back home.

Posted by irenevt 06:39 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Everywhere looks so clean and tidy in Hong Kong, --i,d love the rail museum, the N.R.M. is in my home city.

by alectrevor

Hi Alec, this museum is interesting, but it is quite small. I enjoyed visiting though.

Unfortunately, people do throw rubbish here. I think the fact that many areas are pretty clean is thanks to the large numbers of street sweepers who do their best to clean it all up.

All the best.

by irenevt

Love the family walk - definitely not flat and the rat looks like it’s smoking! The Kuan Yin statue is very impressive. Well done braving the heat.

by Catherine

Haha, I see what you mean about the rat. Didn't notice before. Thanks for visiting.

by irenevt

In my mind there is some industrial-kind of beauty in factories (I work in Industrial Park and for example at nights its very beautiful when it's dark and all the lights lit up :) ) but I can't decide if the humongous white statue looks in-place or out-of-space on that jungle :)

by hennaonthetrek

The statue is rather over the top. I could even see it when I went to the top of Tai Mo Shan the tallest mountain here. When I looked at it from closer, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if it ever toppled over in a typhoon or something. Thank you for visiting.

by irenevt

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