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Right in the Sh*t!!!

A hike to Ma Shi Chau

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Jagged rock formations on Ma Shi Chau.

Jagged rock formations on Ma Shi Chau.

Yesterday I went to the island of Ma Shi Chau. To get there I travelled to Tai Po Market Station, exited through exit A3, and headed down the slope to the minibus station, where I boarded a 20K minibus to Sam Mun Tsai which is the last stop. I could also have got there by bus 74K.

Sam Mun Tsai is a picturesque fishing village that moved. The original village was founded in 1898. Its name means Three Gates and it was called this because it used to be located near three distinct water channels in Tolo Harbour. However, in July 1965 all four hundred inhabitants of Sam Mun Tsai were forced to relocate to a new village on the edge of the nearby island of Yim Tin Tsai, because their original village was about to be completely submerged during the creation of the Plover Cove Reservoir.

Nowadays New Sam Mun Tsai is a sleepy fishing village connected to the mainland by a road. The village has rows of village houses, a boat-filled harbour and a couple of shops. It is known for its seafood restaurants and for its Geo-heritage Centre. The Geo-heritage Centre is here, because of the interesting and unique rock formations that are found on nearby Ma Shi Chau where I was heading.

Sam Mun Tsai has a couple of piers that I walked along to take photos of the village and all the surrounding boats. When I walked along the second smaller pier, literally thousands, and I do mean thousands, of horrible wriggly insects started scurrying away from me. I have never seen anything like it. It made me feel horribly itchy for the rest of the day.

There is some colourful artwork on the walls of the village and there are some displays explaining the village's history and enforced relocation. My favourite part though were the lazy village cats that seemed to be lying around snoozing all over the place. I guess they are very well fed in a fishing village.

Views across Sam Mun Tsai Harbour and village.

Views across Sam Mun Tsai Harbour and village.

Views across Sam Mun Tsai Harbour and village.

Views across Sam Mun Tsai Harbour and village.

View the other way towards the giant Kuan Yin statue.

View the other way towards the giant Kuan Yin statue.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

Village houses.

View from the pier.

View from the pier.

Sleepy village cats.

Sleepy village cats.

Sleepy village cats.

Sleepy village cats.

The village cats even feature in its artwork.

The village cats even feature in its artwork.

The village cats even feature in its artwork.

The village cats even feature in its artwork.

More artwork.

More artwork.

Village history display.

Village history display.

Tanks outside the seafood restaurant. This is spiny lobster, apparently its Chinese name means dragon shrimp.

Tanks outside the seafood restaurant. This is spiny lobster, apparently its Chinese name means dragon shrimp.

Tanks outside the seafood restaurant. Apparently this is Pacific geoduck, a kind of giant clam.

Tanks outside the seafood restaurant. Apparently this is Pacific geoduck, a kind of giant clam.

Near the end of the village, before the Geo-heritage Centre, I saw a signpost for Ma Shi Chau. I followed that up a flight of stairs. Ma Shi Chau is about one and a half kilometres away from Sam Mun Tsai and to get there it's necessary to walk across the top of Yim Tin Tsai Island. This takes around thirty minutes and isn't too hard, even on hot days. The top of the island is home to a large cemetery. Cemeteries here are always located in high locations and, if possible near water, to ensure good Feng Shui. Much of this walk is shaded, as you are walking through trees, but where there are gaps in the trees, there are fantastic views over Ma On Shan in one direction and Tai Mei Tuk in the other. I took some zoom shots of the nearby enormous Kuan Yin statue as well and was pleased to see I could get the whole temple in my shots. A little before you begin the descent to Ma Shi Chau, there is a little pavilion where you can take a rest if you need to.

Views towards Ma On Shan. The mountain top here is shaped like a saddle, but on this visit it was hidden in cloud.

Views towards Ma On Shan. The mountain top here is shaped like a saddle, but on this visit it was hidden in cloud.

Looking towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Looking towards Tai Mei Tuk.

Kuan Yin in the distance.

Kuan Yin in the distance.

Zooming in on Kuan Yin.

Zooming in on Kuan Yin.

Pavilion where you can take a rest.

Pavilion where you can take a rest.

Looking towards Ma Shi Chau.

Looking towards Ma Shi Chau.

One of the loveliest things about this walk, apart from the views, was that there were beautiful pink and white wild flowers growing everywhere. These really brightened up the path.

Beautiful flowers. I believe most of these are rose myrtles.

Beautiful flowers. I believe most of these are rose myrtles.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

If you are wondering about my choice of title for this blog, there is a reason for it. Although Ma Shi Chau is a stunningly beautiful place, its name literally translates as Horse Dung Island. I have no idea why this name was chosen. There certainly aren't all that many horses in Hong Kong nowadays, not sure about in the past, and even if there were, this would be an unlikely place for them to live. It's covered in trees with few open spaces. Maybe there are just so many islands here, they ran out of nice names!!!!

Ma Shi Chau became part of Hong Kong's UNESCO Global Geopark in 1999. In fact, it's probably the most accessible part, as it's only half an hour's walk away from transport. Some of the other locations involve travelling on boats that only run at weekends. Ma Shi Chau is connected to Yim Tin Tsai by a tombola, which I believe gets covered over at high tide, so it is best to check tidal information before you visit.

Before walking across to the island, I took a look at some beautiful red rocks near the entrance to the tombola. The colours of these were amazing. I don't think photos do them justice.

Red rocks before I crossed the tombola.

Red rocks before I crossed the tombola.

View across colourful red rocks.

View across colourful red rocks.

Looking across the tombola.

Looking across the tombola.

On the tombola.

On the tombola.

There are good views from the tombola and once you cross it, there is a map with information about the different types of mainly sedimentary rocks you can find on this island. These rocks are from the Permian Era and were formed two hundred and eighty million years ago. It's only possible to walk on the southern side of the island, as there's no path on the north side. On route you will pass several different areas of rocks. These areas include: an area of siltstone, a shell beach, examples of mud stone, some quartz stone, areas showing differential erosion, some sandstone, rocks that formed on a fault line and rocks that show evidence of folding. If you go to the very end of the island, which I did, you will also reach the Ma Shi Chau Viewing Point. This looks towards the Plover Cove dam wall.

I'm not an expert on rocks, but there were things I loved here. For one there were great views towards Ma On Shan. There were some lovely flowers and trees. The rocks themselves were amazing colours and fascinating shapes. Genuine rock experts would go into raptures over this place.

Welcome to Ma Shi Chau Noticeboard.

Welcome to Ma Shi Chau Noticeboard.

Map of Ma Shi Chau.

Map of Ma Shi Chau.

Lone figure sitting amidst the siltstone.

Lone figure sitting amidst the siltstone.

I apologize if I get my rock information wrong. I know very little about rocks. I think most of the beautifully shaped colourful rocks are mudstone. Even if they aren't, I am pretty sure that their beautiful shapes comes from constant erosion by the wind and waves

Jagged rock formations.

Jagged rock formations.

Interesting rock formations.

Interesting rock formations.

Oddly shaped rocks.

Oddly shaped rocks.

Colourful rock formations.

Colourful rock formations.

Jagged rock formations.

Jagged rock formations.

I may not know my mudstone from my siltstone, but I could certainly identify Shell Beach. I'm not sure I have ever seen so many shells. There were also lots of rocks with shells attached to them or embedded in them. These glistened like diamonds in the light. They were so beautiful.

Shell beach.

Shell beach.

Rock encrusted with shells.

Rock encrusted with shells.

Sparkling shell rocks.

Sparkling shell rocks.

Sparkling shell rocks.

Sparkling shell rocks.

Rocks embedded with shells.

Rocks embedded with shells.

View along the beach across shell encrusted rocks.

View along the beach across shell encrusted rocks.

In addition to shells there was also coral and seaweed on the beach. I also came across a length of rope, maybe for tying up a boat.

Rope.

Rope.

Coral.

Coral.

Coral.

Coral.

The areas of quartz stone were also fairly easy to identify, I think. These rocks were absolutely beautiful, so colourful and sparkly. Apparently the quartz veins are inside sandstone rocks. The sandstone is softer than the quartz so weathers faster, leaving the quartz to stand out.

Quartz stone.

Quartz stone.

Quartz stone.

Quartz stone.

Quartz stone.

Quartz stone.

Close-up of colourful rock.

Close-up of colourful rock.

At a certain point, there were lots of rocks arranged in almost straight lines. Again this is due to some rocks weathering faster than others, causing the harder ones to become raised as the softer wear away. The Chinese have a more poetic explanation. They call these 'dragon entering water' as if the lines are impressions left by a mighty dragon's tail.

Trails known to locals as dragon entering the water.

Trails known to locals as dragon entering the water.

Dragon entering the water.

Dragon entering the water.

Rocks sticking out into the sea like this are also known as dragon entering the water as if the dragon is swimming and bits of it are visible above the water.

Rocks sticking out into the sea like this are also known as dragon entering the water as if the dragon is swimming and bits of it are visible above the water.

There were other areas of rock that I just liked without having a clue what they were and many lovely views to look at. There were lots of boats around. I believe you can come here by sampan if you don't want to do the walk. At weekends sampans wait to take tired looking people off the island and back to Tai Mei Tuk for a negotiable fee.

Looking across the harbour.

Looking across the harbour.

In some areas the rocks were very dark, like this.

In some areas the rocks were very dark, like this.

I don't know what kind of rock this is, but I found it rather photogenic.

I don't know what kind of rock this is, but I found it rather photogenic.

Everywhere was beautiful.

Everywhere was beautiful.

This rock looks like a comfortable place to sit.

This rock looks like a comfortable place to sit.

Boats in the distance.

Boats in the distance.

Fishing boat in the distance.

Fishing boat in the distance.

There were quite a few other people visiting Ma Shi Chau at the same time as me, so on many of the beaches, or areas with lovely rocks, there were major photo sessions going on. I thought I might as well join in with at least one selfie.

Photo time

Photo time

Photo time.

Photo time.

Selfie.

Selfie.

There also seemed to be some school trips going on. This surprised me as I thought they had all stopped for COVID. As a teacher I was interested in observing some of the pupils on these trips. There were three teenage girls who had slumped themselves down on a bench and brought their phones out. When their instructor tried to get them to walk around and look at the rocks, they just kept saying they were too tired. Their instructor was very patient as he tried to coax them to learn something. Personally I'd have wanted to slap them. Sometimes life is wasted on the young.

At the opposite end of the spectrum there was a young teenage boy who was having such a great time paddling in the water that his teacher almost had to threaten him to get him out, so they could go back to camp. In the end the teacher promised he could paddle as much as he wanted back at camp if he'd just get out of the water and go there. I felt sorry for him. He was so obviously just quietly really enjoying his day. In addition there were school groups practising kayaking. This looked fun. I've never done it. It was interesting to see all the hustle and bustle going on.

Kayaking.

Kayaking.

Kayaking.

Kayaking.

I also took some close-ups of some beautifully patterned and colourful pieces of rock.

Beautiful piece of rock.

Beautiful piece of rock.

Holding a colourful rock.

Holding a colourful rock.

Of course along the way there were some wonderful plants. Many of the trees were growing at odd angles, probably as a result of having to cope with very strong winds from time to time.

Trees bent over by the wind.

Trees bent over by the wind.

Wind blown tree.

Wind blown tree.

Screw pine.

Screw pine.

Screw pine.

Screw pine.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers on the island.

Beautiful flowers on the island.

Beautiful flowers. I think this is Lathyrus grandiflorus, a species of peaplant.

Beautiful flowers. I think this is Lathyrus grandiflorus, a species of peaplant.

Flowers line the beach.

Flowers line the beach.

There were several areas of beach on this walk, all of them different. Maybe not the kind of beach that was comfortable to sunbathe on, but I did wonder what it would be like to swim here. No-one was swimming, so it may have been too shallow near the island.

Walking along the rocky beach.

Walking along the rocky beach.

Beautiful stretch of beach.

Beautiful stretch of beach.

A more sandy beach, surrounded by grass.

A more sandy beach, surrounded by grass.

Secluded beach.

Secluded beach.

Rocky beach.

Rocky beach.

At the very end of the island there is a viewpoint looking towards the Plover Cove Dam. There were lots of yachts and other boats around here. At this point it started to rain. I was quite happy about that as I was way too hot and the rain wasn't too heavy, just cooling.

Looking at Plover Cove Dam from the viewpoint.

Looking at Plover Cove Dam from the viewpoint.

Yachts near Plover Cove Dam.

Yachts near Plover Cove Dam.

Yachts near Plover Cove Dam.

Yachts near Plover Cove Dam.

It wasn't a long walk, but all the scrambling over rocks was quite tiring, so I made my way back to the tombola on the inland path through the woods rather than along the shore. Some parts of this path involved a bit of scrambling, too.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Coming back on the path through the woods.

Back at the tombola I watched a boat coming in. The people on it seemed to be trying to clean up all the rubbish that got washed up on the island.

Crossing the tombola to leave.

Crossing the tombola to leave.

The people on this boat were collecting the rubbish from the beach.

The people on this boat were collecting the rubbish from the beach.

It was growing dark as I recrossed Yim Tin Tsai, not because it was late, but because a storm was coming in. I didn't bother to take any more photos, I just rushed back to my minibus and made my way back home before the deluge started.

Posted by irenevt 14:31 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Your photos of the Kuan Yin statue are amazing. That is one very large statue. Love all the flowers. The little village may be my favorite of all the villages you've visited. This looked like a great day out.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, I'm sure you would love the village as it is full of cats.

by irenevt

Hi ,The rocks are beautiful. The title of your blog Poo !.

by alectrevor

Haha, yes the rocks were very beautiful. The translation of the island's name took me a bit by surprise.

by irenevt

Bring on the cats!!!!

by Beausoleil

Love the rock formations and those cats are just gorgeous. Your flower photos are exquisite too. Had to laugh about the poor teacher and the teenage kids!

by Catherine

Stroppy teenagers are funny as long as it's someone else who has to deal with them. I wouldn't have the patience. Yes the rocks and cats were lovely.

by irenevt

The name Horse Dung Island made me laugh. But your photos are beautiful. The Kuan Yin statue fascinates me.

by littlesam1

Apparently that statue is 3 times the height of the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. It was funded by Li Ka Shing, one of Hong Kong's richest men.

by irenevt

Isn't dung (cows, horse, chicken..) have been tradeitem in one point, used as an fertilizer? Maybe there has been trading post in the island :)

by hennaonthetrek

Good ideas. I really don't know why it was called that, but you could be right.

by irenevt

Well I like your explanation better, that they run out of names and thought "Well, shit is a good one" lol.

by hennaonthetrek

Haha, who knows?

by irenevt

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