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First Hike of the New Season.

Following the Fat Mun Ancient Path.

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I have been missing hiking so much, but all summer, it has just been too hot and too humid to even consider going on a long walk. To be honest, it's probably still a bit too hot, but nonetheless, yesterday I completed my first hike of the season. Naturally, I chose an easy one and made sure it was all downhill. I may as well ease myself back into it gently.

I started by going to Tung Chung and boarding the 23 bus to Ngong Ping and the Big Buddha. This is a very pretty journey which passes by beaches and a reservoir and climbs up a tall hill from where there are lovely views.

So much beautiful scenery on the way and I only managed to get a shot of the prison!

So much beautiful scenery on the way and I only managed to get a shot of the prison!

When I got off the bus at Ngong Ping Village, I passed through the huge gateway and walked past the statues of the twelve divine generals. These are the protectors of the Buddha and each one represents a different animal of the Chinese zodiac. There are some shops here, too selling incense and lucky charms and windmills, among other things.

Entrance gate at Po Lin Monastery.

Entrance gate at Po Lin Monastery.

One of the twelve divine generals and Lantau Peak in the distance.

One of the twelve divine generals and Lantau Peak in the distance.

One of the twelve divine generals.

One of the twelve divine generals.

Incense sticks for sale.

Incense sticks for sale.

Although it was not part of my hike, I could not resist taking a look inside Po Lin Monastery, which is one of the loveliest monasteries in Hong Kong. If I had come earlier, this would still have had its Mid-Autumn lanterns up, but unfortunately these had already been taken down. It did have lots of beautiful lotus blossoms in front of the main hall, though.

Statue in the entrance gate.

Statue in the entrance gate.

Po Lin Monastery Main Hall across the lotus blossoms.

Po Lin Monastery Main Hall across the lotus blossoms.

Lotus blossoms.

Lotus blossoms.

Lotus blossoms.

Lotus blossoms.

Lotus blossoms.

Lotus blossoms.

Po Lin Monastery was founded by three monks from Jiangsu Province in 1906. It was originally a much simpler structure and was known simply as The Big Hut. Nowadays there are two main halls open to the public. These are lavishly decorated and filled with golden Buddha images. Off to one side, there is a vegetarian restaurant. I have never eaten here, but it's supposed to be good. There's also a beautiful fish filled pond, which is best viewed from above.

Guard.

Guard.

Guard.

Guard.

Looking towards the main entrance from the main hall.

Looking towards the main entrance from the main hall.

Looking towards the Big Buddha.

Looking towards the Big Buddha.

Temple decoration.

Temple decoration.

There were also two exhibitions going on here. One was about the construction of the Big Buddha and had some interesting photos of the statue being built. I liked the shot of the Buddha's face being lifted into position.

Exhibition hall.

Exhibition hall.

This monk began on the strict path of constant meditation and prayer, before finding the middle way.

This monk began on the strict path of constant meditation and prayer, before finding the middle way.

Golden Buddha statue.

Golden Buddha statue.

Photos showing the construction of the Big Buddha.

Photos showing the construction of the Big Buddha.

Even Buddha is concerned about COVID!!

Even Buddha is concerned about COVID!!

Monastery pond.

Monastery pond.

Vegetarian restaurant.

Vegetarian restaurant.

Outside the monastery, I found a pond with lots of gorgeous water lilies in a variety of different colours. There were lots of other lovely flowers, too and good views back to the monastery.

Water lilies.

Water lilies.

Water lilies.

Water lilies.

Beautiful red flowers.

Beautiful red flowers.

Indian rhododendron.

Indian rhododendron.

Giant potato tree.

Giant potato tree.

Beautiful yellow flowers.

Beautiful yellow flowers.

Monastery building across flowers.

Monastery building across flowers.

The Big Buddha has been covered up for ages and I had heard it was open again. It turned out that it is possible to see him, and he's looking good after his renovation, but it's not yet possible to climb up to him, as the stairs in front of him are still being done. Not being able to climb hundreds of steps on a hot day wasn't much of a punishment. The Tian Tan Buddha, to give him his proper name, dates from 1993. He is thirty-four metres tall, made of bronze and took twelve years to build.

Buddha through the gateway.

Buddha through the gateway.

The Big Buddha.

The Big Buddha.

The Big Buddha.

The Big Buddha.

My intention was to hike the Fat Mun Ancient Path. I believe Fat Mun means something like Gate of Prosperity. The Fat Mun Ancient Path leads from Shek Mun Kap Village, just outside Tung Chung, to very close to Po Lin Monastery. On route this path passes by several monasteries and shrines. Some of these monasteries are still in use, while others have long since been abandoned. I believe the mountain the path ascends is considered holy by Buddhists.

To get to the start of my hike, I followed signs for the Wisdom Path. This took me past several ruined buildings, including the ruined tea garden restaurant.

Follow the signs for the Wisdom Path.

Follow the signs for the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Houses that have been abandoned on route to the Wisdom Path.

Tea Garden Restaurant.

Tea Garden Restaurant.

Then instead of going all the way to the Wisdom Path, I turned left and followed a sign for the Po Lam Zen Monastery. I soon passed by the S.G. Davis Youth Hostel and some public toilets. I reached a place where several trails met up. It was easy to find the start of my path, as it involved going through the Fat Mun Gate.

Sign towards Po Lam Zen Monastery.

Sign towards Po Lam Zen Monastery.

Fat Mun Gate.

Fat Mun Gate.

Fat Mun Gate.

Fat Mun Gate.

The Fat Mun Ancient Trail is paved the whole way. Soon I was surrounded by greenery and peace and quiet. It was very very calming. There were several rocks with Buddhist inscriptions on them. There were lots of beautiful plants and some fruit trees. There were also some bamboo groves that creaked ominously in the wind.

Mountain scenery.

Mountain scenery.

Mountain scenery.

Mountain scenery.

Buddhist inscriptions on rocks.

Buddhist inscriptions on rocks.

Buddhist inscription on a stone.

Buddhist inscription on a stone.

Buddha by the side of the path

Buddha by the side of the path

Fruit growing on a tree.

Fruit growing on a tree.

Bananas.

Bananas.

Seed pods.

Seed pods.

Bamboo grove.

Bamboo grove.

Not too long after I started, I reached the Midway Pavilion. This pavilion is a useful resting place for those who choose to walk the path up the way rather than down.

Midway Pavilion.

Midway Pavilion.

I continued past the pavilion and kept catching glimpses of a view through the greenery. The best place to enjoy this from was a little viewing area with seats up ahead. This allows you to sit and enjoy stunning views over Chek Lap Kok Airport, Tung Chung and towards Castle Peak in the distance.

View over the airport and Castle Peak in the distance.

View over the airport and Castle Peak in the distance.

View over Tung Chung.

View over Tung Chung.

View over Tung Chung.

View over Tung Chung.

View over the airport with Castle Peak in the background.

View over the airport with Castle Peak in the background.

View over Tung Chung.

View over Tung Chung.

After enjoying the views, I continued onwards till I reached Po Lam Zen Monastery. Apparently Po Lam means Jewel of the Forest. This monastery was founded in 1955 by a young Buddhist monk whose dharma name means enlightenment. It is not possible to go inside this monastery, so I just walked around it to catch some glimpses of it. Next to the monastery there are several little vegetable gardens that are tended by the monks. This monastery is a world away from Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha, which can get very crowded. Here there is nothing but peace and tranquility.

Entrance to Po Lam Monastery.

Entrance to Po Lam Monastery.

Po Lam Monastery.

Po Lam Monastery.

Po Lam Monastery.

Po Lam Monastery.

Po Lam Monastery gardens.

Po Lam Monastery gardens.

Garden of Po Lam Monastery.

Garden of Po Lam Monastery.

Garden of Po Lam Monastery.

Garden of Po Lam Monastery.

Flowering pea plant.

Flowering pea plant.

From this monastery, I followed the signs for Tung Chung and within a hundred metres or so, I reached Fa Hong Monastery. This is no longer used, so I could just look at it through its gate. Opposite the monastery there is a little shrine where people still leave offerings.

Sign for Tung Chung via Shek Mun Kap Village.

Sign for Tung Chung via Shek Mun Kap Village.

Fa Hong Monastery.

Fa Hong Monastery.

Fa Hong Monastery.

Fa Hong Monastery.

Shrine outside Fa Hong Monastery.

Shrine outside Fa Hong Monastery.

From here I crossed a bridge over the Tei Tong Tsai Stream. From this point on the soothing sound of running water accompanied my hike.

Bridge over the stream.

Bridge over the stream.

The stream.

The stream.

Soon I came to the Fat Lam Monastery, which is still in use, but not open to the public. This monastery dates from 1932. I peered through some of its gates to catch glimpses of the buildings and gardens.

Fat Lam Monastery.

Fat Lam Monastery.

House near Fat Lam Monastery.

House near Fat Lam Monastery.

There were several abandoned monasteries around this area, too. Again I took a peek at them through their gates. It's a shame they are not being used. Hopefully, they will still be preserved.

Monastery gate.

Monastery gate.

Monastery gate.

Monastery gate.

Entrance to an abandoned monastery.

Entrance to an abandoned monastery.

Gateway to abandoned monastery.

Gateway to abandoned monastery.

Abandoned monastery pond.

Abandoned monastery pond.

At one point the Tei Tong Tsai Stream formed a lovely crystal clear pool with a tiny waterfall trickling out of the end of it.

Pond.

Pond.

Mini waterfall.

Mini waterfall.

After this I reached a shrine with pictures, statues and offerings. It was possible to take a rest here on one of the many seats. The sound of Buddhist chanting was being played at a very low volume inside the shrine. This added to the serenity of the area.

Shrine where you can sit and rest.

Shrine where you can sit and rest.

I then headed further down the mountain towards the last of the monasteries. There were views over Tung Chung from here including the cable car

The final monastery is called Lo Hon Monastery. This is located next to a cave, where monks used to go to meditate. It dates from the 1920's. This monastery had beautiful gardens. Apparently it is normally open to the public, but has closed its gates due to COVID, so I could not go inside. It is very colourful.

Gate at Lo Hon Monastery.

Gate at Lo Hon Monastery.

Lo Hon Monastery.

Lo Hon Monastery.

Lo Hon Monastery.

Lo Hon Monastery.

In the garden of Lo Hon Monastery.

In the garden of Lo Hon Monastery.

In the garden of Lo Hon Monastery.

In the garden of Lo Hon Monastery.

From here I walked down to the village of Shek Kap Mun and the end of the Fat Mun Ancient Trail. I saw a number 34 bus in front of me which I knew would take me back to Tung Chung. I had heard these were infrequent, but I wasn't sure I wanted it, as I hadn't looked at the village yet. I was still pondering what to do when it set off without me, so that was that decision made.

Shek Mun Kap Village has a little temple called Yuen Tan Temple and some shrines. I also saw a lovely tree here covered with purple flowers. This village looks like a peaceful place to live. After looking at it, I walked to Tung Chung Road where there were bus stops. I passed a stream on the way and there was another Buddhist monastery near the road. I can only find its name in Chinese, so don't know what it is called. Realising I wasn't that far from Tung Chung, I just decided to walk there. It was about another 2 km, making the whole walk around 7 km long.

Yuen Tan Temple in Shek Mun Kap.

Yuen Tan Temple in Shek Mun Kap.

Inside Shek Mun Kap Temple.

Inside Shek Mun Kap Temple.

Village Hall in Shek Mun Kap Village.

Village Hall in Shek Mun Kap Village.

Shrine by Shek Mun Kap Bridge.

Shrine by Shek Mun Kap Bridge.

Tree with beautiful purple flowers.

Tree with beautiful purple flowers.

Monastery in Shek Kap Mun.

Monastery in Shek Kap Mun.

On my walk to Tung Chung, I passed Tung Chung Fort which I have visited before, but I took another quick look nonetheless. This fort was built in the twelve century. Soldiers were stationed here to try and prevent the smuggling of salt.

Tung Chung Fort.

Tung Chung Fort.

Tung Chung Fort.

Tung Chung Fort.

Tung Chung Fort.

Tung Chung Fort.

Tung Chung Fort.

Tung Chung Fort.

Back in Tung Chung I jumped on a DB01R bus to get back home having thoroughly enjoyed my first hike of the season.

Posted by irenevt 14:27 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

What a beautiful hike. This is one of the nicest I've been on with you, a gorgeous area. You're right, it would be nice if they would preserve all the now-unused monasteries. It is a cultural heritage and should be saved.

Loved all your flower pictures.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, it really was a lovely hike. I thoroughly enjoyed the tranquility of it. It made me remember what I love about hiking.

by irenevt

Happy to hike by proxy since I can't do it in person anymore

by greatgrandmaR

Happy to bring you along, Rosalie. Glad you enjoyed it.

by irenevt

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