A Travellerspoint blog

February 2021

Welcoming in The Year of the Ox

A Trip to Po Lin Monastery and a walk to Shek Pik Reservoir.

semi-overcast

Yesterday I stopped school for the Chinese New Year Holiday. Funnily enough, yesterday was the first day it has rained for months and Chinese New Year is notoriously wet and miserable but today it had cleared up and the forecast claims the weather is going to be good. I hope so, as I want to do more sightseeing before the hot weather kicks in.

Today I decided to head to Po Lin Monastery then follow the Shek Pik Country Trail down to the Shek Pik Reservoir. I started by heading to Tung Chung and boarding a number 23 bus to the Big Buddha. As it's a Thursday and possibly not everyone is on holiday yet for Chinese New Year, the bus wasn't too busy. In addition the Big Buddha is closed for renovation and has been for quite a long time. That may also explain why it wasn't too crowded.

As always when travelling across Lantau Island, the bus journey was beautiful. I even managed to take a couple of pictures of Cheung Sha Beach from the bus and one while crossing the Shek Pik Reservoir.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Cheung Sha Beach.

Looking over Shek Pik Prison.

Looking over Shek Pik Prison.

When I arrived at Po Lin Monastery, I noticed a huge number of flowering trees off to the left of where the bus dropped us. While everyone else from the bus headed towards the monastery, I was extremely distracted by photographing these. They were lovely.

Colourful Trees.

Colourful Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Shops and Restaurants.

Shops and Restaurants.

Buildings and Trees.

Buildings and Trees.

Buildings and Trees.

Buildings and Trees.

Po Lin Monastery used to be referred to as 'the big thatched hut'. It dates back to 1906 when it was founded by three monks from Jiangsu Province. It was only officially named Po Lin Monastery in 1924. Outside the monastery there are several large gateways, statues and shops which are currently selling windmills and incense among other things.

Gateway to the Monastery.

Gateway to the Monastery.

Statues.

Statues.

Statues.

Statues.

Statue.

Statue.

Incense.

Incense.

Windmills.

Windmills.

Outside the main entrance to the monastery there were absolutely enormous sticks of incense. I imagine they will be lit tonight for Chinese New Year. Entrance to the monastery is free. All I had to do to get in was pass a temperature check. There are statues of several gods and a large golden Buddha in the entrance way.

Incense.

Incense.

Incense.

Incense.

Entranceway.

Entranceway.

Buddha.

Buddha.

statue.

statue.

statue.

statue.

The monastery was beautifully decorated with rows of red lanterns, kumquat trees, spring blossoms and chrysanthemums for Chinese New Year. Po Lin Monastery has a Hall of Buddha as its main shrine. This contains three bronze statues of the Buddha – representing his past, present and future lives. Behind this stands the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The roofs of the monastery are wonderfully painted and decorated with pictures of dragons. The walls are made from granite and they are carved into wonderfully coiled dragons and intricate friezes.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Dragons.

Dragons.

Dragons.

Dragons.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

In the hall of Buddha.

In the hall of Buddha.

Grand Hall of 10,000 Buddhas.

Grand Hall of 10,000 Buddhas.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Hall of Buddha ceiling.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Frieze.

Frieze.

Frieze.

Frieze.

Detail of monastery.

Detail of monastery.

Dragon.

Dragon.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Monastery.

Spring Blossom.

Spring Blossom.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Po Lin Monastery.

Po Lin Monastery.

I have seen the Big Buddha several times. It was completed in 1993. Apparently it has weathered and needs cleaned up. It is currently enclosed in a sort of scaffolding cage.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

The Big Buddha being renovated.

When I had finished looking around the monastery, I headed towards the Wisdom Path. On the way I passed through an abandoned village. I can't find out much information about it though.

Tulip Tree.

Tulip Tree.

Beautiful Orange Flame Vine Flowers.

Beautiful Orange Flame Vine Flowers.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

On the way to Wisdom Path.

The Wisdom Path is a series of thirty-eight steles set out in the form of a figure eight to represent infinity. Each of the steles is decorated with verses from the centuries old Heart Sutra - a prayer revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists. There are good views of Lantau Peak from here.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Wisdom Path.

Next I set out on the Shek Pik Country Trail. This is a rocky, tree-lined dirt path which descends slowly down to the Shek Pik Reservoir. It's a fairly shaded five kilometre walk with intermittent views of mountains, the reservoir and the sea. It takes about two hours to walk. It is crossed by several small streams. All but one of these was currently dry. At one point on this walk I encountered a rather large rat. While I am not fond of rats, it was fitting as today is the last day of the Year of the Rat. Near the end of the Shek Pik Country Trail there is a series of steep steps down to a picnic ground next to the reservoir.

The Trail.

The Trail.

The Trail.

The Trail.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Ferns.

Ferns.

A small stream, almost dry.

A small stream, almost dry.

Tree Stumps.

Tree Stumps.

View of the Reservoir.

View of the Reservoir.

Vegetation.

Vegetation.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

Ferns.

Ferns.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

View of the reservoir.

Steep steps down.

Steep steps down.

Steep steps down.

Steep steps down.

I exited the picnic ground and turned right for great views of the reservoir and the bus-stop for buses back to Tung Chung. Shek Pik Reservoir was built between 1957 and 1963 and has a storage capacity of 24 million cubic metres making it the third largest reservoir in Hong Kong. Four villages: Shek Pik Tai Tseun, Fan Pui Tsuen, Kong Pui Tsuen and Hang Tsai Tseun were relocated due to the reservoir's construction and a Hau Wong Temple lies beneath the waters of the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Right next to the reservoir.

Before going for the bus though, I noticed a sign on the other side of the road saying there was a bronze age rock carving 700 metres away, so I walked to that before heading home. This is the second bronze age rock carving I have seen in Hong Kong. I saw one at Big Wave Bay last week. Most of Hong Kong's ancient rock carvings are next to the sea, but this one is 300m inland. It is thought that the sea inlet might have stretched up to this point in the past. The carving is believed to be around 3,000 years old.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

The rock carvings were right next to Shek Pik Prison. I don't know why prisons are frequently in scenic spots here. Shek Pik Prison is a maximum security institution for male prisoners which opened in 1984. Next to the prison there was an abandoned village, maybe one of the four listed above.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Abandoned Village.

Posted by irenevt 06:44 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (11)

Making Waves.

Hiking to Big Wave Bay.

sunny

Today I decided to walk from Siu Sai Wan to Big Wave Bay. My first problem was working out how to get to Siu Sai Wan as it is further than the eastern end of the MTR line. Eventually I settled on taking bus 788 from the Macau Ferry Pier in Sheung Wan. This is an express bus so it was fast and most of the journey was along the waterfront so it was quite enjoyable.

Express bus to Siu Sai Wan.

Express bus to Siu Sai Wan.

Historically Siu Sai Wan had an RAF base that was involved in intelligence gathering. I found lots of old photos of this on-line, but I don’t think there’s any, or at least not much, of the base itself left any more. Nowadays Siu Sai Wan is a residential area and is home to the Island Resort Complex which is built on the most expensive land in Hong Kong. The 2,500,000 square metre area of land it is located on was purchased by Sino Land for US$1,515,384,620 a short time before the handover of Hong Kong to China.

The Island Resort Complex.

The Island Resort Complex.

I got off the bus at Fullview Gardens and walked to the nearby park where I found the start of the Leaping Dragon Trail. This goes uphill via a series of stairs and slopes. It is not too strenuous and there are great views over Siu Sai Wan every so often, if you look back. There are several sitting out areas here which would be pleasant places to have a picnic in non-covid times.

Views from the Leaping Dragon Trail.

Views from the Leaping Dragon Trail.

Views from the Leaping Dragon Trail.

Views from the Leaping Dragon Trail.

Sitting out area.

Sitting out area.

The Leaping Dragon Trail is quite an easy gentle trail.

The Leaping Dragon Trail is quite an easy gentle trail.

Just before you reach Cape Collinson Road there is a viewpoint with seats. I took a little rest here and rehydrated on my bottled water. I also took some photos of the view though it was a bit hazy.

Views from sitting out area, Cape Collinson Road.

Views from sitting out area, Cape Collinson Road.

Views from sitting out area, Cape Collinson Road.

Views from sitting out area, Cape Collinson Road.

Then I walked to the right along Cape Collinson Road past a little cafe and followed the sign for Pottinger Peak View compass. Here there is a steep set of apparently around five hundred steps, though I did not actually count them. Intermittently there are places to sit and take a rest. There are good views here if you remember to turn around. I took this part of the trail slowly as it was so steep, but fortunately it did not go on too long.

Cafe.

Cafe.

Sign for Pottinger Peak View Compass.

Sign for Pottinger Peak View Compass.

Steep stairs up the hill.

Steep stairs up the hill.

The Views back down were good.

The Views back down were good.

The Views back down were good.

The Views back down were good.

Eventually I reached the turn off for the view compass on my left. I looked at the views which stretched in every direction and had another drink and rest, then returned to the main path and continued in the direction I had been heading before I went to the view compass. I passed a small derelict building, which was probably military at one time.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

View from the Pottinger Peak View Compass.

Old military building.

Old military building.

Old military building.

Old military building.

Onward to Big Wave Bay.

Onward to Big Wave Bay.

The walk to Big Wave Bay from this point was all downhill with beautiful coastal views. I took my time to enjoy it and took lots of pictures. There were a few lovely flowers here.

Along the Path.

Along the Path.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Spectacular Views.

Spectacular Views.

Starting the Descent.

Starting the Descent.

Starting the Descent.

Starting the Descent.

Views.

Views.

Views.

Views.

On Route to Big Wave Bay.

On Route to Big Wave Bay.

On Route to Big Wave Bay.

On Route to Big Wave Bay.

Pagoda.

Pagoda.

As I neared Big Wave Bay I could hear the endless announcements that the beach was closed and anyone going on it would be fined. These must drive residents mad. Before descending to the beach, I went left to look at some beautiful old rock carvings.

Near the rock.

Near the rock.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

Rock Carvings.

There are at least eight ancient rock carvings on the coasts of Hong Kong which may date from as long ago as the Bronze Age. These have beautiful geometric patterns or animal pictures on them. The carving at Big Wave Bay was found by a police officer in 1970.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Approaching the beach.

Big Wave Bay Beach.

Big Wave Bay Beach.

Big Wave Bay Beach.

Big Wave Bay Beach.

Big Wave Bay is a very popular beach for surfers due unsurprisingly to its big waves. Of course, at the moment no-one is allowed to surf. This is obviously a huge blow to the shops and stalls whose income is largely based on surfers.

Big Wave Bay Beach.

Big Wave Bay Beach.

Beach Art.

Beach Art.

Mangroves on the Beach.

Mangroves on the Beach.

There was one tiny strip of sand that was not cordoned off and illegal to go to, and guess what? Everyone who wanted to enjoy the beach plonked themselves there. If the beach had just been open, they could have spread themselves out. I took a quick look at some of Big Wave Bay’s houses, shops and restaurants then looked for transport out. I had decided to take whatever came first, so I was either going to end up in Shek O or Shau Kei Wan. There was a number nine red minibus for Shau Kei Wan waiting to fill up so I jumped on that. Red minibuses don’t take octopus cards, so you need change to use one. Fortunately, I had some.

Big Wave Bay Village House.

Big Wave Bay Village House.

Big Wave Bay Village House.

Big Wave Bay Village House.

Village Shop.

Village Shop.

Surf Shops.

Surf Shops.

Surf Shops.

Surf Shops.

Surf Shops.

Surf Shops.

Village shops.

Village shops.

Village Banyan Tree.

Village Banyan Tree.

Instead of just going straight home from Shau Kei Wan, I decided to take a look around this time. Shau Kei Wan means Rice Sieve Bay, because the bay it was located on was shaped like a basket that was traditionally used for washing rice. I say was rather than is, because there has been so much land reclamation in Hong Kong that this area is no longer located on this bay.

Fishermen began settling around here in the early eighteenth century, as the bay was a good place to shelter during storms. Later Hakka people moved here to work in the nearby quarries. By 1841, Shau Kei Wan was home to around two hundred people, most of them lived on boats.

By 1860, Hong Kong was experiencing problems with pirates, especially around both sides of the Lei Yue Mun Channel, so Governor Richard MacDonnell decided to try and restore law and order to the area. In the process he rebuilt Shau Kei Wan with new houses and proper roads. By 1911 the population of this area had risen to 7,000. Industries such as ship building began to move into the area. After World War II a large fish market was opened here. Refugees from Mainland China began pouring in and the area was filled with slum houses. In 1975 there was a huge fire here and most of the slums were destroyed. In the aftermath of the fire new public housing estates were built here. Nowadays Shau Kei Wan is mainly a residential area with a fish market, boats and several beautiful temples. It is also well known for its restaurants.

I ended up visiting three of Shau Kei Wan’s four temples. I’d have gone to them all, but I mistakenly thought there were only three.

The first temple I visited was the Tin Hau Temple, dedicated to the goddess of the sea. This was built in 1873 and prior to land reclamation was situated right on the waterfront. Tin Hau was of great importance to Shau Kei Wan as its inhabitants were fishermen. Other deities in the temple include Kwan Tai, the god of war, Kwun Yum, goddess of mercy, Liu Dung Bun, one of the eight immortals and Wong Tai Sin. This temple was very busy with people coming to pray for good luck for the new lunar year.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

The second temple I visited was Tam Kung Temple, which was built in 1905. Tam Kung was originally a native of Huizhou in Guangdong Province during the Yuan Dynasty. Legends state that he had supernatural powers from the age of thirteen and that he could control the wind and the rain, cure sickness and forecast the weather, because of these powers he became lord of the sea. Due to quarrying in the area around Shau Kei Wan, stonecutters from Huizhou flocked to this area bringing their belief in Tam Kung with them.

As well as Tam Kung other deities in this temple are Kwan Tai - god of war, Man Cheong - god of literature, Kwun Yum - goddess of mercy, Tin Hau - goddess of the sea, Wong Tai Sin, Wah Kwong - god of fire, Lung Mo Leung Leung – the dragon mother who is the goddess of parents and children, Ng Tung gods – or the gods of five different types of luck, which I think are related to health, wealth, longevity, love of virtue and peaceful death, and Gum Fa Leung Leung - patron of pregnant women.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple Door.

Tam Kung Temple Door.

Outside Tam Kung Temple.

Outside Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

Tam Kung Temple.

The final temple I visited was the Temple of Yuk Wong in the village of A Kung Ngam. This was also built by people from Huizhou who came to work in the quarries nearby. Yuk Wong was the Jade Emperor who is in charge of heaven. There was also a very lovely house in A Kung Ngam Village.

The Temple of Yuk Wong.

The Temple of Yuk Wong.

The Temple of Yuk Wong.

The Temple of Yuk Wong.

The Temple of Yuk Wong.

The Temple of Yuk Wong.

A Kung Ngam Village.

A Kung Ngam Village.

A Kung Ngam Village.

A Kung Ngam Village.

A Kung Ngam Village.

A Kung Ngam Village.

A Kung Ngam Village.

A Kung Ngam Village.



I also looked at Shau Kei Wan’s typhoon shelter with its boats and realized I was directly across from Lei Yue Mun and the Devil’s Peak where I walked last week. Near the typhoon shelter there was a stage, perhaps for Chinese opera and other events.

Cultural Square with its stage.

Cultural Square with its stage.

Cultural Square with its stage.

Cultural Square with its stage.

Typhoon Shelter.

Typhoon Shelter.

Typhoon Shelter.

Typhoon Shelter.

In addition to the temples, I had a quick look at some old shipyards on Tam Kung Road. I think these are mainly involved with repairing boats rather than building them. I also walked passed the wholesale fish market. Nothing much was going on there on a Sunday afternoon. I then looked at the Museum of Coastal Defence perched on its hill in the distance. I also had a look at Basel Road Playground and The Tsung Tsin Mission of Hong Kong Church on Basel Road. This church was founded by a group of missionaries who were trained in Basel, Switzerland and worked among the Hakka people in Guangdong.

The Museum of Coastal Defence.

The Museum of Coastal Defence.

Historic Shipyards.

Historic Shipyards.

Historic Shipyards.

Historic Shipyards.

Church on Basel Road.

Church on Basel Road.

Basel Road Playground.

Basel Road Playground.

Then I took the MTR home. Even more Chinese New Year decorations have appeared in our building.

Chinese New Year Decorations.

Chinese New Year Decorations.

Posted by irenevt 09:59 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (8)

The Gateway of the Golden Carp.

Exploring Lei Yue Mun on the Kowloon Side.

sunny

When I came back down from the Devil’s Peak, I noticed a signpost saying footpath to Lei Yue Mun. I had intended to visit Lei Yue Mun by going back through Yau Tong, but I decided I would follow this route instead. It was probably longer, but it took me through to the village at the back where few visitors venture.

Lei Yue Mun is not actually the name of the village. It is the name of the channel that forms the narrowest part of Victoria Harbour. It literally means Carp Gate. People refer to the area around Shau Kei Wan on Hong Kong Island as Lei Yue Mun because it occupies the Hong Kong Island side of the channel. Here you can find an old fort which is now the Museum of Coastal Defence and an old British army barracks which is now a holiday camp and park. I was on the opposite side of the channel in Kowloon, which is confusingly also referred to as Lei Yue Mun. The Kowloon side is very famous for seafood restaurants, but, as I was to find out, has much more to offer than just these.

Before I got on the footpath down to Lei Yue Mun, I found another viewpoint so, naturally ended up taking more pictures of the lovely views.

Views over Victoria Harbour.

Views over Victoria Harbour.

Views over Victoria Harbour.

Views over Victoria Harbour.

The footpath was shady and pleasant and surrounded by greenery. It was also well-signposted, so even I could not go wrong.

Shady Walk Down to Lie Yue Mun.

Shady Walk Down to Lie Yue Mun.

Eventually I began to see houses and farmland appear. Lei Yue Mun on the Kowloon side actually consists of four squatter villages. These are officially illegal and were only supposed to be temporary structures, but nowadays they are licensed and accepted by the government because of their historic and cultural value. I think the first village I came to was Che Teng Village. This is very quiet and peaceful with lots of nature all around it and few visitors. Talking with a Chinese friend about this blog, he told me his wife grew up in a house in one of these four villages. This house is now left empty due to the danger of landslips directly behind it.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Che Teng Village.

Farming at Che Teng Village.

Farming at Che Teng Village.

Farming at Che Teng Village.

Farming at Che Teng Village.

Further on I reached the seafront. I wandered off to the left-hand-side in order to visit the village’s Tin Hau Temple. I think this part is the village of Ma Wan Tsuen. Before I reached the temple itself, I stopped to look at some huge rocks inscribed with Chinese characters. These are apparently taken from Taoist verse and mean: “The ever flowing pool”. There are also two small antique cannons here showing the historical need to fortify this area against invaders as it is the eastern entrance to Victoria Harbour.

Rocks and Cannons.

Rocks and Cannons.

Rocks and Cannon.

Rocks and Cannon.

The Tin Hau Temple itself was built, according to legend, by Zheng Lianchang. He was a famous pirate and the father of Zheng Chi, one of the pirates I wrote about in my previous blog. The temple is over two hundred years old. There were lots of offerings and burning sticks of incense outside the temple. Inside there were huge coils of incense hanging from the roof. A group of nuns were chanting prayers. I got told off for taking pictures, but I was not forced to delete the ones I had taken.

Tin Hau Temple.

Tin Hau Temple.

Offerings.

Offerings.

Offerings.

Offerings.

Offerings.

Offerings.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the Tin Hau Temple.

Inside the Tin Hau Temple.

Looking back at the temple.

Looking back at the temple.

Seafront near the temple.

Seafront near the temple.

Beyond the temple I continued towards the village of Ma Pui. This stretches along the shoreline all the way to the site of a huge quarry. Historically most of the villagers who settled in these four villages were either farmers or miners. Four small mining companies used to operate in this area. There are quite a few ruined structures connected to the former mining industry, such as the loading ramp where rocks were placed onto ships. This area was windy and therefore was a popular place to fly a kite, too.

The Shoreline past the Temple.

The Shoreline past the Temple.

Village House.

Village House.

Village House.

Village House.

Loading Stage.

Loading Stage.

Site of the old quarry.

Site of the old quarry.

Let's go fly a kite.

Let's go fly a kite.

Cliffs.

Cliffs.

The Old Quarries.

The Old Quarries.

The big blue beyond.

The big blue beyond.

In the 1960’s there was a lot of rioting in Hong Kong by pro-Communist sympathisers against the British Colonial Government. This resulted in the government banning the sale and use of dynamite except under strictly controlled licensing. This law destroyed the small-time quarrying industry in Lei Yue Mun. However, endlessly resourceful the villagers, who had worked for the quarries, started buying and cooking seafood which was caught by fishermen on the other side of the channel in Shau Kei Wan then brought across the channel to be sold. This proved so popular that the fourth and most famous of the four villages - Sam Ka Tsuen – is to this day renowned for its fresh seafood meals.

After looking around the quarry area with its huge cliffs and fantastic views out over the wide-open expanse of Junk Bay, I walked all the way back along the villages’ main street to Sam Ka Tsuen. On route I was very impressed by the many colourful murals which have been painted to brighten up the village.

A hint of Salvador Dali.

A hint of Salvador Dali.

Windsocks and Cats. Sunflowers and Starry, starry Nights.

Windsocks and Cats. Sunflowers and Starry, starry Nights.

Murals and Sausages.

Murals and Sausages.

Sea Creatures.

Sea Creatures.

Bikes and Murals.

Bikes and Murals.

Sleeping Cat.

Sleeping Cat.

Flying Fish.

Flying Fish.

Dragons. Whoops no it's not, it's a fish.

Dragons. Whoops no it's not, it's a fish.

Mural.

Mural.

Carp Gate.

Carp Gate.

Forts and Quarries.

Forts and Quarries.

Carp Gate.

Carp Gate.

Kissing Fish.

Kissing Fish.

Temples.

Temples.

Carp Gate.

Carp Gate.

Sunset Mural.

Sunset Mural.

Village House with Mural.

Village House with Mural.

Next I came to the Lei Yue Mun Wishing Tree. This is a banyan tree shaped like a wishbone. People tie ribbons to it for good luck.

The Lei Yue Mun Wishing Tree.

The Lei Yue Mun Wishing Tree.

The Lei Yue Mun Wishing Tree.

The Lei Yue Mun Wishing Tree.

I also had a quick look at the village lighthouse. This stands on a rocky islet that can be reached at low tide. It has been in service for more than fifty years. I noticed there were some houses on stilts and I enjoyed scenic village streets.

To the Lighthouse.

To the Lighthouse.

To the Lighthouse.

To the Lighthouse.

Stilt Houses.

Stilt Houses.

Flower filled streets.

Flower filled streets.

Flower filled streets.

Flower filled streets.

What's through there?

What's through there?

Village House.

Village House.

I don't know why, I just liked it.

I don't know why, I just liked it.

Then I wandered passed food stalls, fish stalls and seafood restaurants with their huge tanks of seafood swimming around. It is customary to either buy food from the fish stalls and take it to a restaurant for cooking or to choose which live sea creature swimming around in the restaurant tanks you want to be killed and cooked.

To market, to market.

To market, to market.

To market, to market.

To market, to market.

To market, to market.

To market, to market.

Restaurants.

Restaurants.

Choose your seafood.

Choose your seafood.

Choose your seafood.

Choose your seafood.

Choose your seafood.

Choose your seafood.

Choose your seafood.

Choose your seafood.

I have eaten in one of these years ago with Chinese friends. The food was very good, but as a western hypocrite, I refused to point at the seafood I wanted killed, though I was perfectly happy to eat it as long as someone else decided which ones lived and which ones died.

After wandering around here I passed the Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter which was filled with many boats and the statues of golden carp fish near the village gate placed there in homage to the area’s name.

Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter.

Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter.

Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter.

Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter.

Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter.

Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter.

Village Gate..

Village Gate..

Leaping Carp Statue.

Leaping Carp Statue.

Leaping Carp Statue.

Leaping Carp Statue.

Leaping Carp Statue.

Leaping Carp Statue.

Leaping Carp Statue.

Leaping Carp Statue.

Then I walked back to Yau Tong MTR station and returned home, pausing to appreciate its sculpture on my way past.

Sculpture at Yau Tong Station.

Sculpture at Yau Tong Station.

Sculpture at Yau Tong Station.

Sculpture at Yau Tong Station.

Sculpture at Yau Tong Station.

Sculpture at Yau Tong Station.

Posted by irenevt 11:23 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (4)

A Pirates' Life for me.

A Hike up Devil's Peak.

sunny

Yesterday I decided to go on a hike up Devil’s Peak, a mountain overlooking the Lei Yue Mun Channel. To get to the Devil’s Peak I took the MTR to Yau Tong Station. This is actually a very nice MTR Station. It is not too busy. It has windows with a view and, luxury of luxury, it has clean toilets without a queue.

View from the window of the MTR station.

View from the window of the MTR station.

I took exit A from the station and entered a shopping mall called Domain Mall. I’m not generally fond of shopping centres, but like the MTR station, the mall was spacious and uncrowded so it was very pleasant. There were several displays here on the theme of Chinese New Year as we will soon be entering the Year of the Ox. Let’s hope it is a bit better than the Year of the Rat.

Chinese New Year Display.

Chinese New Year Display.

Chinese New Year Display.

Chinese New Year Display.

I took the escalator up to the ground floor of the shopping mall and then exited from the exit next to Tai Hing Restaurant, onto Ko Chiu Road. I then crossed the road, headed left towards Lie Yue Mun Housing Estate and walked towards the Tseung Wan O Chinese Permanent Cemetery. There were good views over Victoria Harbour as I walked up this road. After around 650 metres, I crossed the road when I saw the sign post for the Wilson Trail and started to head towards the Devil’s Peak.

Views on the way up.

Views on the way up.

The start of the trail.

The start of the trail.

The Devil’s Peak is an easy walk, about three kilometres in length to an elevation of around 222 metres. So why is it called the Devil’s Peak? Well a couple of hundred years ago this mountain was a notorious base for pirates. They used the mountain as a lookout place because they could see Victoria Harbour and Junk Bay from here. When they saw trading boats, laden with goods approaching, they could ambush them in the narrow Lei Yue Mun Channel where the ships had little room to escape. The pirates were so successful that Hong Kong used to be known as the Island of Thieves.

The most famous of all Hong Kong’s pirates belonged to the same family group. The first was Zheng Yi. He was born in 1765 and died in 1807. Zheng Yi came from a long line of pirates. He used his influence to unite thousands of pirates together into an organization known as the Red Flag Fleet. They were so powerful that the Chinese navy could not get them under control. Zheng later married Ching Shih, the madame of a floating brothel in Canton. Zheng also kidnapped a fifteen-year-old Tanka fisher boy called Cheung Po and forced him to become a pirate, too. Cheung Po took to the life of a pirate with masses of enthusiasm and after a while Zheng Yi and Ching Shih decided to adopt him as their son. When Zheng Yi died at sea during a typhoon, Ching Shih and Cheung Po, who was now known as Cheung Po Tsai, which means Cheung Po the kid, took command of the Red Flag Fleet. Although they were officially mother and stepson, they became lovers and married each other. Ching Shih was a ruthless leader. She beheaded any of her pirates who disobeyed her. She also repeatedly fought against the Portuguese, the Dutch East India Company and the Quing Government and she always won. Legends state that Cheung Po Tsai hid large amounts of his pirate loot in a cave on Cheung Chau Island. The cave where it is supposed to be hidden is known as Cheung Po Tsai Cave. Eventually in frustration at not being able to defeat them, the Quing Government offered Ching Shih and Cheung Po Tsai amnesty if they agreed to surrender and give up their pirate activities. They accepted. Cheung Po Tsai was given a position as a captain in the Quing Government’s navy and ironically spent his time capturing and defeating pirates. When Cheung Po Tsai died at sea in 1822, Ching Shih moved her family to Macau and opened a gambling house. She lived to be sixty-nine-years old, which considering the life she led is quite an achievement.

Fortunately, all the above people are long gone and the Devil’s Peak is a much more peaceful place nowadays.

As well as having a history associated with pirates, Devil’s Peak also has a history as a military base. The area around Devil’s Peak was home to the British Army in the nineteenth century. On the summit of Devil’s Peak stands the Devil's Peak Redoubt, or fort, which was built in 1914. There are also two batteries located on the way up the hill.

The first of these is the Gough Battery. This was named after the Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in China, Hugh Gough or First Viscount Gough. It is located at 160m. It was built in 1898 and used to have two 6-inch guns. These were removed to Stanley Fort in 1936.

Gun Batteries filled with trees.

Gun Batteries filled with trees.

Gun Batteries filled with trees.

Gun Batteries filled with trees.

Gun Batteries filled with trees.

Gun Batteries filled with trees.

Ruined buildings.

Ruined buildings.

Ruined buildings.

Ruined buildings.

Ruined building with Chinese writing.

Ruined building with Chinese writing.

After just a short climb up the hill, I saw the signs for the Gough Battery. I spent a lot of time here as it not only had good views, it also had lots of historical remains, such as gun batteries, ruined buildings, an underground magazine, and little shrines. Best of all though, nature is reclaiming the land here and the ruins are covered in tree roots and plants. It is like a small-scale Ta Prohm, the Cambodian temple near Angkor Wat which was left covered in jungle.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

Nature is taking over.

There were quite a lot of people here, yet I seemed to be able to explore the underground remains completely alone and was able to take lots of people free pictures.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Underground Remains.

Some children seemed to be having a karate lesson here. There was certainly lots of space for it.

Karate Lesson.

Karate Lesson.

I liked the fact that people had placed little shrines in the niches of the ruined buildings.

Little Shrines.

Little Shrines.

Little Shrines.

Little Shrines.

Little Shrines.

Little Shrines.

From this area there are views over Junk Bay, Lei Yue Mun and Victoria Harbour.

Views from the battery.

Views from the battery.

Views from the battery.

Views from the battery.

Views from the battery.

Views from the battery.

After a while I set off on my climb again. There were great views in every direction. After a short flight of stairs there was a dirt path off to the Pottinger Battery.

The Pottinger Battery was named after Hong Kong Governor, Sir Henry Pottinger. This had 9.2 inch guns which were removed in 1936 and placed in the Bokhara Battery in Cape D’Aguilar. I saw this when I went walking there recently, though I was too lazy to climb downhill to investigate it properly.

The remains here are almost totally covered over with plants and rubbish. They are not easy to access. Plus there isn’t as much of them as there is with the Gough Battery.

The Pottinger Battery.

The Pottinger Battery.

The Pottinger Battery.

The Pottinger Battery.

From here to the summit there is a short steep staircase. Views from the stairs over junk Bay are amazingly beautiful.

Going up to the top.

Going up to the top.

Views from the stairs up.

Views from the stairs up.

Views from the stairs up.

Views from the stairs up.

The redoubt at the top of the peak was fairly crowded. Most people had come for the views or to take photos. I wandered around the trenches that surround the fort then climbed up to the top part to enjoy the views.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

Wandering around the trenches that surround the fort.

From the top there were fantastic views over Victoria Harbour and over Junk Bay. There were lots of people taking photos, enjoying the sun and gazing at the views.

Views from the top.

Views from the top.

Views from the top.

Views from the top.

Views from the top.

Views from the top.

Views from the top.

Views from the top.

View from the top.

View from the top.

People posing.

People posing.

I also climbed over a small metal stairway to a dirt path that afforded great views over Junk Bay and the Tseung Wan O Chinese Permanent Cemetery.

View over the cemetery.

View over the cemetery.

View over the cemetery.

View over the cemetery.

On my way back down instead of returning straight to Yau Tong I decided to follow a pathway to Lei Yue Mun Village. I will write about that in the next blog.

Coming back down.

Coming back down.

Posted by irenevt 04:53 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (8)

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