A Travellerspoint blog

March 2021

On the Gin Drinkers' Line.

The Maclehose Trail Stage Six.

sunny

When I started doing this blog, my idea was to redo about ten to fifteen places in Hong Kong l had done years ago. Now due to the Internet and Google I have done about twenty places and have about a hundred left to do!!!! How has this happened? At this rate, I may need another twenty years here to finish everything.

Yesterday I set out to complete Stage Six of the Maclehose Trail, specifically because I really wanted to visit the Gin Drinkers' Line, which I first read about just a few days ago while researching the war stoves on Quarry Bay Tree Walk.

The idea for the Gin Drinkers’ Line came from the Maginot Line in France and it was even sometimes referred to as the Oriental Maginot Line. The line stretched for eighteen kilometres across the New Territories and consisted of gun batteries, block houses, pillboxes, firing trenches, redoubts and tunnels. It was built by the British after the Japanese invaded Guangdong in December 1938. It was called the Gin Drinkers’ Line because it began at Gin Drinkers’ Bay, which due to land reclamation, is now the Kwai Chung/Kwai Fong area. This area was originally known as Gin Drinkers' Bay because of rowdy, drunken celebrations which took place whenever boats were launched here.

The British built the Gin Drinkers' Line as a defensive structure that was supposed to hold off any attempted Japanese invasion of Hong Kong for a few weeks, however, when the Japanese finally attacked the line on December 8th, 1941, it was woefully undermanned. There were only three British Army battalions manning the whole of the line. These were the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots in the west, the 2/14th Battalion, Punjab Regiment in the centre and the 5/7th Battalion, Rajput Regiment in the east. The whole line fell within just two days forcing the British to retreat first to the Devil's Peak in Lei Yue Mun and then later to Hong Kong Island. The whole of Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese on Christmas day 1941.

Much of the Gin Drinkers’ Line has now crumbled or become overgrown, but the area near the Shing Mun Reservoir and around Smugglers' Ridge is one of the areas which has survived. Here you can still see a series of military tunnels with names like: Regent Street, Charing Cross, Piccadilly, Oxford Street, Shaftesbury Avenue and Haymarket. I thought this was just an example of British sense of humour, but I read one account that suggests the names were actually to help the British soldiers navigate the tunnels.

To get to Stage Six of the Maclehose Trail I took the MTR to Tsuen Wan, exited through exit B onto a walkway, crossed Castle Peak Road, walked down Chung On Road and turned right onto Shui Wo Street. Unfortunately, I was then greeted by an enormous queue for the number 82 minibus to the Shing Mun Reservoir. I ended up standing in line for about thirty minutes. I really, really wanted to see the Gin Drinkers' Line or I would not have waited. I exited from the minibus at the last stop and, being me, initially set off in the total wrong direction. Before I set off, I noticed a lovely little sign for the Shing Mun Country Park, designed to look like a fairy door. I then headed up the stairs to the Shing Mun Visitor Centre and merrily set off along the edge of the Shing Mun Reservoir. Within about twenty minutes, I knew I was going the wrong way, so I took some photos of the reservoir and the wild monkeys wandering around it and headed back the way I had come. My husband has always been the one with the sense of direction and, although I am getting better, I frequently go wrong before I get it right.

Fairy Door.

Fairy Door.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Monkeys.

Monkeys.

Monkeys.

Monkeys.

Monkeys.

Monkeys.

Monkeys.

Monkeys.

I wasn't upset about going the wrong way, as the views of the reservoir from this area proved to be prettier than the ones on the correct walk. To get on the correct walk I headed back to that fairy door. If I was standing facing that door, I then needed to go to the right along the road to reach the Maclehose Trail. The walk along the road was not overly exciting, but I did pass some pretty flowering trees, then I reached another part of the Shing Mun Reservoir, took some photos and was delighted to see a sign pointing towards a war relics trail, which led me to a sign pointing to the Maclehose Trail Section Six. Finally, l had found it! When the Japanese gained control of the Gin Drinkers' Line they also gained control of several reservoirs, affecting the water supply of the people of Hong Kong.

Beautiful Trees.

Beautiful Trees.

Flowering Trees.

Flowering Trees.

Flowering Trees.

Flowering Trees.

Sign to the War Relics.

Sign to the War Relics.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Shing Mun Reservoir.

Sign for the Maclehose Trail.

Sign for the Maclehose Trail.

The start of the trail involved climbing lots of steps and it wasn't long before I was getting out of breath. When I finally reached the top, the first marked relic I saw was an air vent above one of the tunnels. This was followed by a sign saying 'desolate tunnel, do not enter'. I foolishly did not look for this tunnel, but when I saw a similar sign a bit further on, I left the path and went to see the tunnel. I'm not absolutely sure which tunnel this was, but I think it might have been Piccadilly. It appeared to have suffered shell damage.

Air Vent.

Air Vent.

Danger Desolate Tunnel Sign.

Danger Desolate Tunnel Sign.

Shelled Tunnel.

Shelled Tunnel.

Shelled Tunnel.

Shelled Tunnel.

Shelled Tunnel.

Shelled Tunnel.

I walked on a bit further and found three tunnels. Two of them were Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, the other was unnamed, but was possibly an exit from Piccadilly. I went half way along the unnamed one until it was too dark to see, then came out and went all the way along Shaftesbury Avenue. There was a sign here to the Strand Palace Hotel. The Strand Palace Hotel was the Operational Headquarters of the Gin Drinkers' Line. It was located in the Shing Mun Redoubt. When I emerged from the Shaftesbury Avenue Tunnel, I noticed beautiful views over Kowloon. Venturing further along I found Charing Cross which appeared dry, but which I've read is often flooded and filled with stagnant water and mud. I've seen other people's blogs about exploring the tunnels and they have encountered bats, lizards, giant centipedes etc. To be honest you need a torch to do the tunnels justice. I didn't have one and only did the tunnels with some light and where I could stand up. I'm also a bit claustrophobic so there was no way I was crawling through any narrow or blocked tunnels, no matter how fascinating they were.

Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue.

Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue.

To Strand Palace Hotel.

To Strand Palace Hotel.

Inside Shaftesbury Avenue.

Inside Shaftesbury Avenue.

The Other End of Shaftesbury Avenue.

The Other End of Shaftesbury Avenue.

Inside a Tunnel.

Inside a Tunnel.

Inside a Tunnel.

Inside a Tunnel.

Inside a Tunnel. Apparently the writing is the name of the Japanese commander who gained control of the Gin Drinkers' Line. He attacked before he was ordered to and was almost court-martialed for doing so.

Inside a Tunnel. Apparently the writing is the name of the Japanese commander who gained control of the Gin Drinkers' Line. He attacked before he was ordered to and was almost court-martialed for doing so.

Inside a Tunnel.

Inside a Tunnel.

Mud  Choked Tunnel.

Mud Choked Tunnel.

Military Marker indicating Golden Hill.

Military Marker indicating Golden Hill.

Tunnel Entrance.

Tunnel Entrance.

Tunnel.

Tunnel.

Tunnel Entrance.

Tunnel Entrance.

Charing Cross

Charing Cross

Charing Cross

Charing Cross

When I finished looking at the tunnels, I went further up the hill and ended up at the Shing Mun Redoubt which was nicknamed the Strand Palace Hotel. There was a walking tour going on and the participants were all sitting on the roof of the redoubt. I went inside alone. Inside you can still see the bullet holes and shrapnel damage on the walls and roof. The rooms are marked as kitchen, sleeping quarters, toilet with a hasty note saying please don't use it as this now. There's also a tunnel leading down to Charing Cross. I only did a short stretch of it till it got too dark. There are sudden irregular steps and other things to trip you up. It is easy to have an accident if you can't see. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me and realised the whole walking tour group had come inside the redoubt. The crowds caused me to beat a hasty retreat. Confined spaces with lots of people are really not for me.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

And then the hoards descended.

And then the hoards descended.

Signs in the Redoubt.

Signs in the Redoubt.

Signs in the Redoubt.

Signs in the Redoubt.

Signs in the Redoubt.

Signs in the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

In the Redoubt.

Air Vent.

Air Vent.

Going down into a tunnel.

Going down into a tunnel.

Going down into a tunnel.

Going down into a tunnel.

Going down into a tunnel.

Going down into a tunnel.

On the Roof of the Redoubt.

On the Roof of the Redoubt.

According to things I have read there are more war remains hidden around in the bushes and I am sure they would be fascinating to see, but I was satisfied that I had seen enough for one day, so I continued my walk which climbed further up Smugglers Ridge where there were beautiful views over Kowloon and lots of flowering trees and bushes.

View of the Shing Mun Reservoir from Smuggler's Ridge.

View of the Shing Mun Reservoir from Smuggler's Ridge.

View of the Shing Mun Reservoir from Smuggler's Ridge.

View of the Shing Mun Reservoir from Smuggler's Ridge.

The Trail up the Ridge.

The Trail up the Ridge.

View over Kwai Cheung, Kowloon.

View over Kwai Cheung, Kowloon.

View Over Kowloon.

View Over Kowloon.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Chinese New Year Flowers.

Along the Trail.

Along the Trail.

Along the Trail.

Along the Trail.

Path over Smugglers' Ridge.

Path over Smugglers' Ridge.

Path over Smugglers' Ridge.

Path over Smugglers' Ridge.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Colourful Ferns.

Colourful Ferns.

Mountain Scenery.

Mountain Scenery.

Woods on Smugglers' Ridge.

Woods on Smugglers' Ridge.

Woods on Smugglers' Ridge.

Woods on Smugglers' Ridge.

When I descended from Smugglers Ridge, I arrived on a paved road. This area is called Golden Hill, or in Chinese - Kam Shan. It is part of the Kam Shan Country Park and the road leads to Kowloon Reservoir. All around this area was filled with macaques. Apparently there are around 1,800 wild monkeys in Hong Kong. They are all Rhesus Macaques or Long-tailed Macaques and are found only in and around Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks. I had no food with me, only water, so they had no interest in me, but I saw one leap onto a man's rucksack which he was carrying on his back and he had to shake it off. I would have screamed the place down if it had been me. Before getting to the reservoir, I passed a little stream and a waterfall.

Don't feed those damned monkeys sign.

Don't feed those damned monkeys sign.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey and Pavillion.

Monkey and Pavillion.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Monkey.

Stream.

Stream.

Stream.

Stream.

Golden Hill Road Sign.

Golden Hill Road Sign.

Golden Hill Road.

Golden Hill Road.

Waterfall.

Waterfall.

Colourful Vegetation.

Colourful Vegetation.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Having survived the monkeys, I headed towards Kowloon Reservoir which is very close to Tai Po Road where I would finish my hike and catch a bus back to the MTR.

Kowloon Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir.

At the Reservoir.

At the Reservoir.

At the Reservoir.

At the Reservoir.

At the Reservoir.

At the Reservoir.

Kowloon Reservoir Dam Wall.

Kowloon Reservoir Dam Wall.

At the Reservoir.

At the Reservoir.

At the end of the reservoir there were several beautiful flame trees and when I crossed the road and went to the bus stop there was another sign up saying 'Don't Feed the Monkeys'. The sign was right next to a bin that a group of monkeys were surrounding and they were busily pulling all the discarded food stuff out of. Only two buses stop at this bus-stop, so I was just thinking there will be a long wait and I'll have to stand when a red minibus suddenly appeared. You must pay on a red minibus, they don't accept octopus cards. The driver was taking people to Jordan but passing several MTRs on the way for a fare of eight dollars. I was so happy to get on and sink down into my seat.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

Flame Trees.

At the bus-stop.

At the bus-stop.

Making a meal, making a mess.

Making a meal, making a mess.

Making a meal, making a mess.

Making a meal, making a mess.

I was expecting to take the red minibus to Jordan or Mong Kok, but he stopped somewhere I've never been before and pointed out an MTR sign. I had no idea where I was, but jumped off anyway. Once you are at an MTR, you can get anywhere. I turned out to be in Sham Shiu Po, which is famous for its markets. I had also spotted an area where it was possible to walk up a slope and photo the high up flowers of cotton trees from it, so I went there and photographed some trees. Then I had a very quick look at one market. I was too tired to seek them all out.

Celebrating the Year of the Ox, Sham Shui Po.

Celebrating the Year of the Ox, Sham Shui Po.

Celebrating the Year of the Ox, Sham Shui Po.

Celebrating the Year of the Ox, Sham Shui Po.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Sham Shui Po Market.

Bauhinia.

Bauhinia.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree.

Finally, I returned home to Discovery Bay where there were even more beautiful trees. I loved their amazingly sunny and happy yellow flowers.

Flowering Tree, Discovery Bay.

Flowering Tree, Discovery Bay.

Flowering Tree, Discovery Bay.

Flowering Tree, Discovery Bay.

I finally found the perfect cotton tree picture a couple of weeks after this walk. As I was walking down from school I passed a cotton tree with very high up flowers. Someone had placed fallen ones into the fence where they made a lovely picture.

I think these flowers are so beautiful.

I think these flowers are so beautiful.

Posted by irenevt 12:30 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (10)

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