A Travellerspoint blog

Hong Kong

In Search Of Inspiration.

A Cheapskate's Guide to Hong Kong Disneyland.

sunny

Flame tree and shelter.

Flame tree and shelter.

Once again I decided not to go too far while Peter is still on quite a lot of meds, so I took the bus to Sunny Bay. I then boarded the special train with the Mickey Mouse ears which would take me to Disneyland.

Boarding the train.

Boarding the train.

And through the Mickey window....

And through the Mickey window....

Inside the train.

Inside the train.

I have been to Hong Kong Disneyland once, years ago. It is the only Disneyland I have ever been to and it was fun, but I have absolutely no desire to go back or ever visit another Disneyland. I'm sure I would feel differently if I had kids. The real reason I was heading towards Disneyland was not to go there, but to go to Inspiration Lake. This is a lovely lake set in a large park and it is free to enter. In fact, I intended to do only the things around Disneyland that I could do for free.

When I arrived at Disneyland, I knew that the fastest way to the lake was to follow Fantasy Road, but I headed in the opposite direction as I wanted to photograph the fountain outside Disneyland.

Fountain outside Disneyland.

Fountain outside Disneyland.

Fountain outside Disneyland.

Fountain outside Disneyland.

From the fountain, I could clearly see the entrance to Disneyland where most people were heading. Nowadays you must scan your leave home safe app to get in. I'm not sure if there are other requirements or not.

Entrance to Disneyland.

Entrance to Disneyland.

Entrance to Disneyland.

Entrance to Disneyland.

I had originally intended just to look at the fountain and then head to the lake, but I noticed a sign for the pier. I think we went there before, but our last visit here was so long ago, I can't actually remember. I think the original idea was that there would be lots of boats to Disneyland. There may be some, but I don't think the pier took off in the way it was intended to. On the walk to the pier, I passed many sign posts with pictures of Disney characters and several hedges cut into animal shapes. Best of all, there were lots more flame trees in full bloom.

Welcome to Disneyland Resort Hong Kong.

Welcome to Disneyland Resort Hong Kong.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

The Fairies from Sleeping Beauty.

The Fairies from Sleeping Beauty.

Topiary Dragon.

Topiary Dragon.

Fountain and Flame Trees.

Fountain and Flame Trees.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

It was quiet and peaceful at the pier. Most of the people around were sitting peacefully fishing. They had also come here without any intention of visiting Disneyland.

Disneyland Pier.

Disneyland Pier.

Disneyland Pier.

Disneyland Pier.

Disneyland Pier.

Disneyland Pier.

Looking back at the pier.

Looking back at the pier.

I had intended to walk straight back and head to the lake, but once again I was waylaid. This time it was because I noticed a waterfront promenade which passed directly in front of the Disneyland Hotels. I don't think this was built on my first visit. There are now three hotels next to Disneyland. Pretty sure on our first visit there was just one. The waterfront promenade provided great views of the hotels, but it also afforded wonderful views over Peng Chau and Discovery Bay.

The three hotels are: the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Disney Explorers Lodge and Hotel Hollywood. I had a quick look and they get mainly good reviews online, though some people complain about the food and wait times for things. I noticed that each hotel has very beautiful, spacious gardens with lots of wide green lawns and flowering trees.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel is supposed to look like a Victorian palace and has four hundred rooms. Apparently it has a garden maze in the shape of Mickey Mouse and an outdoor pool. It was the first hotel built here. It is closest to Disneyland and I think it is the most expensive of the three.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

Disney Explorers Lodge is an explorer themed hotel. It has seven hundred and fifty rooms, four different styles of gardens and an outdoor swimming pool. Apparently the hotel rooms are in four different blocks and each one is based on a different tropical climate, so there's an Asian area, an Oceanian area, a South American area and an African area.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Disney Explorers Lodge.

Hollywood Hotel is a glitzy and glamorous Hollywood themed hotel with six hundred rooms. It has a piano-shaped pool and a garden courtyard of vintage cars and famous landmarks.

Hollywood Hotel from Magic Road.

Hollywood Hotel from Magic Road.

In addition to the hotels, the promenade was lined by a wide variety of flowering trees. Most of them were frangipani trees. They were absolutely beautiful and they came in a wide variety of colours.

Screw pines.

Screw pines.

Screw pines.

Screw pines.

Cerbera manghas, also known as the sea mango.

Cerbera manghas, also known as the sea mango.

It looks beautiful, but apparently it is highly toxic. The leaves and fruits contain the potent cardiac glycoside cerberin, which is extremely poisonous if ingested.

It looks beautiful, but apparently it is highly toxic. The leaves and fruits contain the potent cardiac glycoside cerberin, which is extremely poisonous if ingested.

Frangipani.

Frangipani.

Frangipani.

Frangipani.

Frangipani.

Frangipani.

Frangipani.

Frangipani.

I walked right to the end of the promenade which ended in a locked gate. I didn't mind as I was enjoying the views over Peng Chau and Discovery Bay where I live, though they were not especially clear views as it was a bit hazy. There was a little boat nearby with some local fishermen in it.

Looking towards Discovery Bay.

Looking towards Discovery Bay.

Close-up of small boat.

Close-up of small boat.

Looking towards Discovery Bay.

Looking towards Discovery Bay.

Looking towards Discovery Bay.

Looking towards Discovery Bay.

Instead of walking all the way back to the MTR station and then following Fantasy Road, I decided to follow Magic Road to Inspiration Lake. This was a walk of about two kilometres. It was well signposted. Close to the park entrance I found a beautiful tulip tree.

Magic Road.

Magic Road.

Tulip Tree.

Tulip Tree.

The Inspiration Lake Recreation Centre occupies around thirty hectares of land. It was opened in 2005 and is free to enter. In its centre is the twelve hectare Inspiration Lake. This is an artificial lake, which was built in conjunction with Disneyland. As well as being a leisure facility, the lake is apparently also used for irrigation. Near the lake there is also an arboretum with lots of wide green lawns. This is a good place for a picnic.

Sign for Inspiration Lake.

Sign for Inspiration Lake.

There are pedalos for hire at Inspiration Lake, though no-one was on them during my visit. They are probably more popular at weekends. It's also possible to hire a Surrey bike and cycle around the lake.

Pedalos on the lake.

Pedalos on the lake.

This park has toilets, a convenience store, a children's playground and a 1,500 metre jogging track. If I had gone the short route along Fantasy Road, Inspiration Lake is a fifteen minute walk from Disneyland Station. If you don't feel like walking, there is also a bus.

I noticed straight away that the waters of the lake were absolutely teeming with fish and turtles. This was especially true near the end where the Pedalos were. The water was very clean and clear.

Fish and Turtles.

Fish and Turtles.

Fish and Turtles.

Fish and Turtles.

Turtles.

Turtles.

Fish and Turtles.

Fish and Turtles.

Fish and Turtles.

Fish and Turtles.

I decided I would stroll all the way around the lake. It was a Friday afternoon, so not the busiest of times. There were some people having picnics, others enjoying the fresh air. Some people had hired Surrey bikes and were cycling around. The lake has a water spout which wasn't on during my visit. There is a little island in the centre of the lake.

Boat Hire on Inspiration Lake.

Boat Hire on Inspiration Lake.

Pedalos on Inspiration Lake.

Pedalos on Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake with flowers.

Inspiration Lake with flowers.

Flowers and Inspiration Lake.

Flowers and Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Inspiration Lake.

Selfie at Inspiration Lake.

Selfie at Inspiration Lake.

Dragon Boats on the Lake.

Dragon Boats on the Lake.

I'm not sure if you are supposed to walk along this, but I did.

I'm not sure if you are supposed to walk along this, but I did.

I walked to the arboretum which always has lots of beautiful flowers. There were some unusual Golden Lotus Banana Plants and beautiful white flowers along the borders of the arboretum. In the centre there was a very ornate shelter nestling under a flowering flame tree. At the far end of the arboretum I found a lovely crepe myrtle tree. There were also lots of irises.

Golden Lotus Banana.

Golden Lotus Banana.

White flowers in the arboretum.

White flowers in the arboretum.

King's-mantle.

King's-mantle.

Shelter with flame trees in the arboretum.

Shelter with flame trees in the arboretum.

Shelter with flame trees.

Shelter with flame trees.

Shelter with flame trees.

Shelter with flame trees.

Walking Iris. They are called this as they self-propagate and so spread or 'walk' all over your garden.

Walking Iris. They are called this as they self-propagate and so spread or 'walk' all over your garden.

Spanish Iris.

Spanish Iris.

Walking Irises.

Walking Irises.

Crepe Myrtle Tree.

Crepe Myrtle Tree.

When I returned to the lake from the arboretum, I reached a pretty little jetty sticking out into the lake and passed a small island.There were two jetties on the lake. The second one was being used for a wedding photoshoot. This was a traditional western style white wedding. Nearby there was a second photoshoot going on. This was for an Indian wedding. I can honestly say I have never seen such colourful clothes. They were quite stunning.

Little Jetty.

Little Jetty.

Jetty and Island.

Jetty and Island.

Island in Inspiration Lake.

Island in Inspiration Lake.

Island in Inspiration Lake.

Island in Inspiration Lake.

Bride posing on the jetty.

Bride posing on the jetty.

White Wedding.

White Wedding.

Colourful Indian Wedding.

Colourful Indian Wedding.

Colourful Indian Wedding.

Colourful Indian Wedding.

It was a very hot day and although I had enjoyed my walk, I was pleased to return to the park entrance so I could return to the MTR as I was getting sunburnt. I took the short way back along Fantasy Road.

Fantasy Road Sign.

Fantasy Road Sign.

Mickey Mouse fence on Fantasy Road.

Mickey Mouse fence on Fantasy Road.

Colourful Plants on Fantasy Road.

Colourful Plants on Fantasy Road.

Azalea on Fantasy Road.

Azalea on Fantasy Road.

Eventually I reached the Disneyland Station and caught the train back to Sunny Bay. I was glad I came in the early afternoon as the train coming in was heaving, while my train back had lots of room.

Thank you for visiting.

Thank you for visiting.

Disneyland Station.

Disneyland Station.

Posted by irenevt 01:19 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (4)

Life's a Walk in the Park!!!!

On nursing duty.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Recently I have not been going too far as I have been on nursing duty, making sure Peter takes all his drops and pills. Also the weather has been terrible. I don't want it to get too hot, but it has actually been pouring most days. We have had lots of rain signals including red and amber and a thunder storm that went on for about eight hours. Every day has been dark and dreary. Life has involved a lot of going back and forth to the doctor's.

On Monday I needed to go shopping for food, but I decided I'd go to Tung Chung instead of locally for a change of scenery and since I was going there I thought I'd take a look at Tung Chung North Park as I've never been there before. Every time I am writing a blog and look up information about trees or plants, the articles always seem to say 'This can be found in Tung Chung North Park', so I thought I'd take a look.

This park apparently opened in 2010. It's a strange park. I found the entrance and was stunned by how tiny it was. I then realised I was only in part A of the park which has a pet garden and an elderly fitness corner.

Camelia Flower with raindrops in part A.

Camelia Flower with raindrops in part A.

I walked on and found part B which is totally separate from part A. This was better. It had a herb garden with lots of information, an exhibition centre which I didn't go into and an activity centre. There was an exercise class going on in there when I visited. The exhibition centre has been open since 2013 and apparently has lots of information on different communicable diseases, not really what I want to spend my free time on nowadays. There are enough of those in real life.

Pond in the centre of the herb garden.

Pond in the centre of the herb garden.

Reflections in the pond.

Reflections in the pond.

Wild coffee in the herb garden.

Wild coffee in the herb garden.

Peppermint.

Peppermint.

Globe Amaranth. This can be made into a tea which reduces fatigue, improves skin, lowers blood pressure and even prevents gray hairs. I think I need some!

Globe Amaranth. This can be made into a tea which reduces fatigue, improves skin, lowers blood pressure and even prevents gray hairs. I think I need some!

As well as the herb garden there was also a trail of health which followed a very circuitous path up a small hill. As you walk it, you will pass boards showing you how to do some exercises and several motivational quotations from famous people.

Exercise Post.

Exercise Post.

Motivational Quotes.

Motivational Quotes.

At the far side of the trail of health you come to part C of the park which has a soccer pitch. This has recently been doubling as a COVID testing centre. There's also a fountain here.

This insect was willing to pose for me in part C.

This insect was willing to pose for me in part C.

On one side of the park stand the extremely tall buildings of the Caribbean Coast and on the other were lovely mist covered mountains. From the Caribbean Coast side there was almost constant drilling.

Caribbean Coast looming over the park.

Caribbean Coast looming over the park.

Mist covered mountains.

Mist covered mountains.

Past the park was a forest of cranes. The MTR are building a new line and a new station here so there were loads of heavy vehicles, workers in hard hats and lots and lots of noise. Very typical Hong Kong.

Sea of Cranes.

Sea of Cranes.

On Tuesday the sun finally decided to make an appearance. I decided after helping with drops and pills, I was going out for a couple of hours. I started by taking the train to Cheung Sha Wan Station. I exited at exit C2 and went to look for the Un Chau Estate Flower Tunnel. This is supposed to be a magical place with masses of pink bougainvillea. I believe it would have been like this up until a couple of weeks ago, but unfortunately I had mistimed it and all the flowers had already gone. Oh well, never mind. I guess if you are the wrong time for something, you must be the right time for something else. Un Chau is a public housing estate. There were many playgrounds near the flower tunnel and lots and lots of children running, screaming and laughing everywhere. It reminded me of work. There the noise would sometimes drive me crazy. Here when I could escape it at will it was more invigorating.

Un Chau Flower Tunnel when I visited.

Un Chau Flower Tunnel when I visited.

Photo of the Un Chau Flower Tunnel taken from the internet.

Photo of the Un Chau Flower Tunnel taken from the internet.

Although the flower tunnel wasn't in bloom, there were other beautiful flowers to enjoy, especially lots of different coloured hibiscus flowers.

Yellow hibiscus.

Yellow hibiscus.

Red hibiscus.

Red hibiscus.

I decided to walk from Un Chau Estate through Cheung Sha Wan to the Jao Tsung-I Academy, which I planned to visit next. On route I passed the Cheung Sha Wan Sitting Out Area and the Sham Shui Po Sports Ground. I once again noticed that although Cheung Sha Wan is very built up, and mainly concrete, concrete and more concrete, the wide roads make it feel more open and less claustrophobic.

Cheung Sha Wan Sitting Out Area.

Cheung Sha Wan Sitting Out Area.

Sham Shui Po Sports Ground.

Sham Shui Po Sports Ground.

The streets of Cheung Sha Wan.

The streets of Cheung Sha Wan.

The streets of Cheung Sha Wan.

The streets of Cheung Sha Wan.

I had noticed on Google maps that the Jao Tsung-I Academy was quite close to the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre. I had no idea what that was. At one point I had to cross a major road called Butterfly Valley Road. I wanted to change from Cheung Sha Wan Road to Castle Peak Road on the other side. At first I only saw one way to go. Thus I accidentally walked into the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre. I suddenly realised I could see the road I wanted to be on, but it was blocked off by tall walls, topped with barbed wire. Looking around I saw there were also tall walls topped with barbed wire on both sides of me. I suddenly realised the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre was a prison and I seemed to have walked right into the middle of it. There was a guard watching me surreptitiously. I think he found me quite amusing, but didn't want to have to speak English to me to tell me to get out. I had the choice of attempting to scale the fence, and probably getting shot in the process, or backtracking. I decided to backtrack and got onto the rather narrow road next to the prison. Phew, was I glad to get out of there!

A short walk onwards and I arrived at the Jao Tsung-I Academy. This is a group of very old buildings which are currently used as an exhibition centre, restaurant and heritage hotel. In the past they have been used as almost everything you can think of.

They began life as a customs post between Hong Kong and China. At that time these buildings were right on the sea. They are now a long way away from the water due to land reclamation. In the past there was a pier here and customs boats patrolled the waters making sure any passing boats paid the necessary duties. Later these buildings became accommodation for Chinese labourers who were waiting to sail overseas. Some of these labourers were going willingly, others were being forced. Later still these buildings were used as a quarantine station. For a while these buildings acted as a prison. After that they were used as a hospital for infectious diseases, such as plague, cholera and leprosy. After that they were a psychiatric rehabilitation centre.

The centre nowadays is named after an esteemed Chinese scholar, Jao Tsung-I, who was born in 1917 and died in 2018, at the age of one hundred. Jao Tsung-I was a sinologist, calligrapher, historian and painter. He made extensive contributions to many fields in the humanities and published over a hundred books.

The academy is on three levels. The lower level has a beautiful pond, exhibition halls and a statue of Jao Tsung-I. The pond was filled with waterlilies and water hyacinths. The exhibition centres deal with the history of the buildings and contain information about Jao Tsung-I.

Front of the Jao Tsung-I Academy.

Front of the Jao Tsung-I Academy.

Ground floor of the Jao Tsung-I Academy.

Ground floor of the Jao Tsung-I Academy.

Statue of Jao Tsung-I.

Statue of Jao Tsung-I.

Beautiful pond on the ground floor of the academy.

Beautiful pond on the ground floor of the academy.

Water hyacinth.

Water hyacinth.

Water hyacinth.

Water hyacinth.

Water hyacinth.

Water hyacinth.

Yellow Waterlily.

Yellow Waterlily.

Pink Waterlily.

Pink Waterlily.

Inside the exhibition centre.

Inside the exhibition centre.

Inside the exhibition centre.

Inside the exhibition centre.

Display relating to the centre being a customs post.

Display relating to the centre being a customs post.

Old boundary stone.

Old boundary stone.

Old photo of when the buildings were a customs post.

Old photo of when the buildings were a customs post.

Old photos of opium smokers.

Old photos of opium smokers.

Old photo of when the buildings were a hospital. These children are attending lessons even though they are ill.

Old photo of when the buildings were a hospital. These children are attending lessons even though they are ill.

The middle level of the complex has a restaurant called the House of Joy, a coffee shop, accommodation and exhibition blocks. There are nice views over the lower floor from here.

Stairs up to middle level. They are covered with little lights, so would be pretty at night.

Stairs up to middle level. They are covered with little lights, so would be pretty at night.

Stairs from ground level to middle level.

Stairs from ground level to middle level.

Leave a message for luck.

Leave a message for luck.

Looking down on the ground floor from above.

Looking down on the ground floor from above.

Looking down on the ground floor from above.

Looking down on the ground floor from above.

Hotel accommodation.

Hotel accommodation.

Coffee shop on middle level.

Coffee shop on middle level.

House of Joy Restaurant.

House of Joy Restaurant.

Restaurant.

Restaurant.

Decoration outside the restaurant.

Decoration outside the restaurant.

Piano.

Piano.

In the middle level.

In the middle level.

Floral Display.

Floral Display.

Bicycle decoration in middle level.

Bicycle decoration in middle level.

The upper level is the main accommodation level. I have no idea what the rooms are like inside, but the while place is very peaceful from the outside. There were several ladies in beautiful saris walking up and down while being filmed, possibly for a wedding. There was an old rickshaw outside one of the buildings.

Looking over the middle level.

Looking over the middle level.

Looking at the middle level from the upper level.

Looking at the middle level from the upper level.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Heritage accommodation on upper level.

Heritage accommodation on upper level.

Heritage accommodation.

Heritage accommodation.

Old rickshaw outside the accommodation.

Old rickshaw outside the accommodation.

Indian wedding.

Indian wedding.

Indian wedding.

Indian wedding.

View from the upper level.

View from the upper level.

When I was done looking around here, I found a walkway on the other side of the road which took me all the way to Mei Foo MTR Station without me having to cross any of the major roads which were all around.

On the walk down to Mei Foo.

On the walk down to Mei Foo.

On the walk down to Mei Foo.

On the walk down to Mei Foo.

When I got to Mei Foo MTR, I knew I was opposite the beautiful Lai Chi Kok Park which I have visited before. I thought I might as well go in and take another look. Before I reached the park, I passed some colourful market stalls.

Market.

Market.

Lai Chi Kok Park is a large park with beautiful Chinese gardens and lots of sports facilities. I headed towards the Lingnan Gardens first. These are Chinese style walled gardens with ponds. On the way I passed a children's playground with cute novelty bins, butterfly models, a jogging track and lots of flowers and trees.

Lai Chi Kok Park Sign.

Lai Chi Kok Park Sign.

Butterflies on the way to Lingnan Gardens.

Butterflies on the way to Lingnan Gardens.

Flowering Southern Magnolia Tree.

Flowering Southern Magnolia Tree.

Novelty bins in children's play area.

Novelty bins in children's play area.

Novelty bins in children's play area.

Novelty bins in children's play area.

Old and Modern at Lingnan Gardens.

Old and Modern at Lingnan Gardens.

Turtles and Snakes.

Turtles and Snakes.

A turtle surveys his kingdom.

A turtle surveys his kingdom.

Lingnan Garden.

Lingnan Garden.

Shelter in Lignan Garden.

Shelter in Lignan Garden.

Window with bamboo.

Window with bamboo.

I got to see bougainvillea after all.

I got to see bougainvillea after all.

Gateways.

Gateways.

I then went up to the sports grounds and discovered a sloping path which would take me at treetop level past tulip trees and flames of the forest trees which were all filled with flowers.

Tulip Tree.

Tulip Tree.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Flame Tree.

Then I went to the other Chinese style park here. There was a photography class taking place with everyone photographing lotus blossoms, so I joined in. I also loved the reflections on the pond.

Bird statues.

Bird statues.

Birds and lotuses.

Birds and lotuses.

Lotus blossom.

Lotus blossom.

Lotus blossom.

Lotus blossom.

Lotus blossom.

Lotus blossom.

Lotus blossom.

Lotus blossom.

Ponds and Lilypads.

Ponds and Lilypads.

Reflections in a pond.

Reflections in a pond.

Reflections in a pond.

Reflections in a pond.

Around this garden I also noticed some beautiful scarlet flowers and some trees with purple blossom.

Walls and flowers.

Walls and flowers.

Beautiful four seasons camelia flowers.

Beautiful four seasons camelia flowers.

Beautiful four seasons camelia flowers.

Beautiful four seasons camelia flowers.

Purple blossom of a crepe myrtle tree.

Purple blossom of a crepe myrtle tree.

Finally, I remembered I had come out to go shopping, went to the supermarket and went home to my nursing duties.

Posted by irenevt 03:12 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (4)

Health Matters.

Peter's next eye operation.

View at Sunset.

View at Sunset.

The COVID numbers put us off going back to the hospital with Peter for a while, but we finally decided he should have his left eye operated on. This eye is very badly damaged with glaucoma, so we were told the operation may not make a lot of difference. We decided any improvement at all, even slight, was probably worth it.

On the night before his operation, we decided to go out for dinner. We wanted to go to the Bounty Bar, which at one time was our local, but which has been closed for months, as all bars were shut down here due to COVID. They have recently been allowed to reopen. To our disappointment this one hadn't reopened, not sure if it will. Lots of businesses went under due to all the restrictions.

We decided we would go to Cali-Mex instead. Restaurants have recently gone back to normal working hours, so it felt wonderful being able to stay there past the witching hour of 6pm. Service and food are hit and miss in this restaurant. Actually this time we got excellent, very friendly service. Peter had fish sliders which he really liked. I had chicken enchiladas which was reasonably good, though not great. We drank Blue Girl beer, which was excellent and isn't that easy to find on draught here.

Peter with his fish sliders.

Peter with his fish sliders.

My chicken enchiladas.

My chicken enchiladas.

Next day we headed to Hong Kong Sanitarium Hospital in Happy Valley. We were not as scared as we were for the first operation. For that one the doctors had spent so long emphasising everything that could go wrong due to the glaucoma that we were absolutely terrified. Two doctors had refused entirely to carry out the operation saying the risks were too great. We had the same surgeon as last time, and she is wonderful, so we were perfectly happy.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Fortunately, the surgery went smoothly. Peter also woke up compos mentis this time. Last time he told the anaesthetist his name was Fred and denied ever having met me. We've been married for thirty-four years. He also shouted at the anaesthetist for having a bad bedside manner when he tried to wake him up last time. This time there seemed to be a general agreement just to let him sleep and he woke up normally.

It's a long journey home from the hospital, plus we knew we would have to go back there the next day, so we booked a night in the Regal Hong Kong Hotel in Causeway Bay instead of going home. The attraction was the hotel's proximity to the hospital, plus it offered a late check out till 4pm on the deal we booked. When we checked in, they tried to fob us off with a twelve o'clock check out, so we got really angry. Just what you need after surgery - a good fight!!! They readily agreed to changing our checkout till 2pm, but we weren't having that. We had no idea how long we'd have to wait in the hospital for all of Peter's checks, so with a two o'clock check out we'd probably have to actually check out before we left for the hospital to be on the safe side. Eventually we reached a stage where I was telling the receptionist I would never stay there again and she was telling me next time I must not ask for a late check out. Somehow it all got resolved and we won. We had a room till four p.m.

Last time we stayed in this hotel our room was all glass and had fantastic views. This time it was a bit darker and only had windows on one side. This was better for Peter's eyes anyway as bright light hurt them. It was a lovely room nonetheless, with a bed much bigger and much more comfortable than the one we have at home. We both slept really well.

Our room.

Our room.

View by day from room.

View by day from room.

View by day from room.

View by day from room.

View by day from corridor.

View by day from corridor.

View at Sunset.

View at Sunset.

Night time view.

Night time view.

Night time view.

Night time view.

Our deal included access to the club class lounge. Last time that was on the thirty-first floor with great views, snacks and alcohol you helped yourself to. This time there were renovations going on, so it had been moved to the ground floor and there was no alcohol in sight. At the risk of getting a reputation as the grumpiest guest ever, I went to complain. We were brought alcohol, so I feel I was on a winning streak. The food on offer was little tuna sandwiches, small hot beef pies and some cream cakes. It was all very nice.

Relaxing in the lounge.

Relaxing in the lounge.

Relaxing in the lounge.

Relaxing in the lounge.

Relaxing in the lounge.

Relaxing in the lounge.

Peter was too tired to go out for dinner so I went out and bought us ham and mustard sandwiches from Mark's and Spencers Food. We ate these in our room before getting an early night.

Next day the breakfast location was also different from last time. Most people seemed to come in and pour themselves a coffee, plus load up a paper bag with croissant and pastries to take away. Our deal included a hot cooked breakfast. I was tempted a bit by the idea of congee which I like, but in the end, decided it was so long since I'd had a full English breakfast I would have that. Of course, Peter had that, too, without congee ever passing through his mind.

Breakfast room.

Breakfast room.

Sporting his fetching eye shield.

Sporting his fetching eye shield.

Looking very serious with my breakfast.

Looking very serious with my breakfast.

After breakfast we had to jump in a taxi to the hospital. We were slightly late as it took us so long to find a taxi. It wasn't that there were no taxis, just nowhere for them to stop. Eventually we found a taxi rank near the MTR. We hardly ever use taxis so we are both totally rubbish at ever finding them. Everything seemed to be fine with Peter's eye and the pressure was nowhere near as high as last time.

One of the things I like about this hospital are its views over Happy Valley Race Course. There are lots of sports facilities in the middle of the grounds. There was a football match going on when we were there.

Looking over Happy Valley.

Looking over Happy Valley.

Looking over Happy Valley.

Looking over Happy Valley.

Looking over Happy Valley.

Looking over Happy Valley.

After the hospital we returned to the hotel and just took it easy till check out time. We were going to go home by MTR but a taxi pulled up outside the hotel as we were leaving, so we jumped in and took it to the ferry. This meant there was considerably less chance of Peter getting bumped or walked into on the way home.

The amazing thing about this hotel stay is that we both felt we had been away for ages. I was expecting to return to a big build up of mail. I think this is because we never ever go away anywhere at the moment. It really felt like we had had a substantial holiday.

Since then I've been on full-time nursing duties. The most exciting thing I've done recently was walk to the shops. On the way I passed some fantastic trees and beautiful birds. Unfortunately, I just had my phone not my camera. My camera has a good zoom, but my phone doesn't.

Flame tree.

Flame tree.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Flame tree against blue skies.

Bird of paradise flowers.

Bird of paradise flowers.

I think these are herons.

I think these are herons.

I think these are herons.

I think these are herons.

Since then it has rained torrentially every day. We cancelled going out to dinner yesterday due to the weather. Today I have to go to the shops for food but it has been thunder and lightning for the last five hours. The rain is non-stop. I don't mind the rain but I'm not going out in that lightning. The storm is making all the windows in our flat shake. It doesn't seem to be passing. Oh well, looks like I'm having a day in.

Now that it has finally stopped raining, I went back and photographed the flame tree with my camera. There were no herons around, but there were plenty of turtles.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Flame Tree Flowers.

Turtles.

Turtles.

Turtles.

Turtles.

Passing Boats.

Passing Boats.

Posted by irenevt 05:21 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (11)

It's A Jungle Out There.

Spending a day in Tai Po Kau.

sunny

The Way through the forest.

The Way through the forest.

I'm beginning to think I should just move to Tai Po. It would save time as I always seem to be there. Today I went there yet again. This time I wanted to visit Tai Po Kau.

Tai Po Kau is an area to the south of Tai Po. At one time Tai Po Kau had its own railway station and a pier from which it was possible to take a variety of boat trips around the Sai Kung area. I did not know this till I started writing this blog. When the KCR electrified their lines in 1983, the station here was demolished. Nowadays trains simply hurtle through this area without stopping. On route they pass an extremely striking building, but I'll get to that later. The pier that was here long ago still stands, though it is shorter than before due to land reclamation. No boat trips leave from this pier any more, but it is still popular with fishermen.

Nowadays this area is not as bustling as it once was, but there are still reasons to come for a visit. My reason was to visit the Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve.To get there I travelled to Tai Wo Station, then took the number 72 bus to Chung Tsai Yuen. This name is sometimes written Tsung Tsai Yuen and means Pine Tree Garden. After alighting from the bus, I crossed the road and headed right towards the nature reserve.

In front of the nature reserve there is a small park where a terrible tragedy occurred. On the 28th of August 1955, a group of teachers and pupils from St. James Settlement were having a picnic on the final day of their week long camping trip in this area. It suddenly started to rain. Now when it rains here in the summer time, it is normally torrential and you can go from dry to totally soaking in seconds. There was no place to shelter, so they stood under a little bridge next to the park, as it was the only covered spot. However, tragically for them, the downpour caused a landslide and many of the group were swept away. Twenty-eight people were killed in this incident, most of them children.

The bridge the school party sheltered under used to be called Hung Shiu Kiu which means Bridge of Flooding because in rainy season it could be covered with water. Following this terrible event, the bridge is now known as Mang Gui Kiu or Ghost Bridge. People in Hong Kong are very superstitious and any place where a tragedy has occurred is going to be filled with ghosts. Drivers in this area at night claim to have seen mysterious ashen faced children waving at their cars and to have been startled by eerie white lights appearing and disappearing on the road in front of them. Similar reports have been made by hikers who have stayed in the area after dark. Many people do stay here late, because the nature reserve is known for fire flies. Locals claim to have seen their own children talking to imaginary friends and holding hands with people who are not there.

There's also a story about a bus driver on his final trip of the night, who was driving his empty bus through this area when he saw a woman with an ashen face and long dark hair waiting by the bus stop. He stopped and she boarded the bus, but when he looked in the money box, there was only joss paper. (This is money people buy and burn so that it will travel up to their ancestors giving them money to spend in the afterlife.) The driver called out to the passenger to pay the correct fare, but when he looked round, saw that his bus was empty. Nervously he continued to drive. Suddenly he saw that someone had pressed the bell to alight, so he stopped and opened the door. He saw noone leave, but heard a ghostly voice call back a loud thank you to him.

Of course I don't really believe in ghosts, but you wouldn't find me hiking here at night. I took a look at Ghost Bridge. It's a replacement one as I believe the original one was damaged in other floods. The government carried out work on damming the stream higher up to prevent anything like this ever happening again. The park next to the bridge now has several shelters where you can escape the sun or the rain and there is a plaque to those who were killed in this disaster. It was hoped that by placing the plaque here, the spirits of the dead might be placated. It may not have worked, as the road here is apparently notorious for car crashes.

Ghost Bridge.

Ghost Bridge.

Memorial Plaque.

Memorial Plaque.

Shelter in the park next to the nature reserve.

Shelter in the park next to the nature reserve.

After a quick look around this area, I headed into the nature reserve. Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve occupies around 460 hectares on the eastern slopes of Grassy Hill, stretching from the top of this hill all the way down to Tai Po Road. The reserve's height above sea level ranges from 50 metres to 647 metres. At one time, the slopes of this hill were bare, as all the trees had been chopped down. However, in 1926 the government began an afforestation campaign in the New Territories. The main tree planted here was the Chinese Red Pine, which is why the area is known as Pine Tree Garden. Other trees here include the Camphor Tree, China Fir, Taiwan Acacia, Giant Bean, Sweet Gum and the Paper-bark Tree.

The Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve is home to many animals including: cattle, wild boars, monkeys, porcupines, barking deer, the leopard cat, a hundred and sixty different species of birds, a hundred and two types of butterflies and fifty kinds of dragonflies.

From the entrance you can either choose to walk up the road or divert onto the nature trail. At the end of these there are four colour coded walks to choose from. The longest at ten kilometres is the yellow walk which takes about three and a half hours, then the brown walk which is about seven kilometres and takes two and a half hours. The blue walk is four kilometres and takes one and a half hours and the red walk is three kilometres and takes one hour.

Signs for the four colour coded walks and the forest trail.

Signs for the four colour coded walks and the forest trail.

I decided to walk up the forest nature trail rather than the path. Before I reached it, I saw my first animal of the day, a rather large cow with dangerous looking horns that strolled right past me. Fortunately, it seemed very docile. The nature trail is about a kilometre long and involves climbing lots of steep stairs. There are information boards at intervals, giving details of the animals and plants on the reserve. I found quite a few trees or logs with fungi growing on them both here and later on the colour coded walk. I thought these were quite beautiful.

Sign for Tai Po Nature Reserve.

Sign for Tai Po Nature Reserve.

Passing Cattle.

Passing Cattle.

Entry to Tai Po Nature Trail.

Entry to Tai Po Nature Trail.



Stairs on the nature trail.

Stairs on the nature trail.

Fern lined path.

Fern lined path.

The Way through the forest.

The Way through the forest.

Fungus on a tree stump.

Fungus on a tree stump.

Fungus on a fallen tree.

Fungus on a fallen tree.

Fungus on chopped down trees.

Fungus on chopped down trees.

Fungus on a tree stump.

Fungus on a tree stump.

Fungus on a chopped down log.

Fungus on a chopped down log.

More fungi.

More fungi.

More fungi.

More fungi.

On the forest nature trail I felt like I was in the heart of a jungle. The light all around me was filtering in through the green leaves and the trees were shading me from the sun. It didn't feel particularly humid like it did on the four waterfalls hike. It was very peaceful with only the sounds of insects and birds around me.

Shady forest path.

Shady forest path.

In the heart of the forest.

In the heart of the forest.

At the end of the forest trail I had the choice of four walks. The yellow and brown are the longer ones. They are supposed to be beautiful with occasional viewpoints, but they have the least wildlife. The blue and red trails are shorter and easier with more chance of seeing wildlife as they are near the water. I decided to give myself a break and do the shortest and easiest hike, i.e. the red trail. There were several reasons for this and they weren't all that I was being lazy. My reasons were: it's getting pretty hot nowadays, I was hoping to see some wildlife and finally there were two other things in Tai Po Kau I wanted to see apart from the nature reserve and if I did the long walk I wouldn't have time.

The red path is mainly on the flat with just a few stairs here and there. It is not completely flat though and would not be suitable for a wheelchair user or a pushchair. It is a lovely shaded walk. It passes by streams, so there's quite a bit of water around. There are some picnic sites on this trail.

Map of the red and blue routes.

Map of the red and blue routes.

Bridge over the stream.

Bridge over the stream.

Ponds and streams on the red walk.

Ponds and streams on the red walk.

Picnic Site.

Picnic Site.

While I was walking, it was mainly very peaceful and I was really enjoying looking at all the plants and trees. Occasionally I could hear animals moving around in the trees. At one point I heard what sounded very much like barking. It actually sounded quite ferocious. I think it must have been a warning cry. It was very loud and very near. I wondered if it was a barking deer, but then I saw something climbing up the branches, so it was more likely to have been a monkey.

Looking at the trees.

Looking at the trees.

Looking up at the sky through a gap in the trees.

Looking up at the sky through a gap in the trees.

Flower strewn path.

Flower strewn path.

Fronds mark the start of the path.

Fronds mark the start of the path.

Rocks line the path.

Rocks line the path.

It's nice and cool on the forest paths.

It's nice and cool on the forest paths.

Selfie in the forest.

Selfie in the forest.

There were lots of ferns lining the path. Some of these were really big. I always like to see ferns. They add a sort of primeval atmosphere to a walk. When you see lots of huge ones, you can imagine that you have been transported back in time to the origins of the Earth.

Ferns.

Ferns.

Ferns.

Ferns.

Ferns and other leaves.

Ferns and other leaves.

Selfie with ferns.

Selfie with ferns.

I saw several spiders, which for some reason I could not photograph. They were always in the wrong position for the light. I also saw a cute little brightly coloured beetle. He at least was willing to pose for me.

Beetle on a fern.

Beetle on a fern.

I began to think it wasn't really possible to find animal life. They had so many places to hide, so I decided to concentrate on the flora and let the fauna go about its own business. There was certainly a wide variety of different plant life to see and enjoy. I don't know why but I tend to like plants that use other plants to stay alive, such as creepers and epiphytes. I think I like these because to me they are so tropical looking. They are my idea of what any self-respecting jungle must have. I also came across some trees with huge seed pods.

Creepers and moss on a rock.

Creepers and moss on a rock.

Creeper climbing up a tree.

Creeper climbing up a tree.

Mini-habitat on a tree stump.

Mini-habitat on a tree stump.

Epiphytes.

Epiphytes.

Plants growing on other plants.

Plants growing on other plants.

Looks like this leaf has had a hard life.

Looks like this leaf has had a hard life.

Pretty tree.

Pretty tree.

Tree with large seed pods.

Tree with large seed pods.

Tree with large seed pods.

Tree with large seed pods.

Suddenly I saw a monkey sitting in the tree right in front of me. I lined him up to get a shot and just at that exact time a large group of very, very noisy hikers came up behind me. When the monkey heard them, he panicked and leapt from his tree right across the path just above my head into the trees on the other side. Although it happened right in front of them, the talkative group didn't even seen to notice. I was left stunned that a monkey had leapt pretty much right over me.

Monkey in a tree. This little chap jumped right over my head.

Monkey in a tree. This little chap jumped right over my head.

I was nearly at the end of the red trail and when I reached the roadway, I decided I would walk down it rather than go back through the forest trail. I noticed there were quite a few houses around, either on or next to the reserve. I think some of them may still be lived in, but others were abandoned, falling down and gradually being overtaken by nature.

Houses on the nature reserve.

Houses on the nature reserve.

Houses next to the nature reserve.

Houses next to the nature reserve.

Overgrown buildings in the nature reserve.

Overgrown buildings in the nature reserve.

House next to the nature reserve.

House next to the nature reserve.

House next to the nature reserve.

House next to the nature reserve.

House near the nature reserve.

House near the nature reserve.

At several times on this walk I suddenly saw larger groups of people standing around holding huge cameras. I assume they were bird watchers.

Bird watchers.

Bird watchers.

On the walk back to the main road I saw so many monkeys. They were all over the place, swinging madly through the trees and making lots of noise. I spent ages trying to photograph them, but every time I lined up a shot, it was as if they just went nah, nah,nah,nah,nah and disappeared. I gave up in the end.

There is a nature centre on this reserve and I'm sure it would be worth a look, but I did not visit this time. When I arrived back at the entrance to the reserve, I was both surprised and delighted to see a monkey sitting happily among the cars. Now he really did not mind posing for a few shots.

Monkey in the carpark.

Monkey in the carpark.

Monkey in the carpark.

Monkey in the carpark.

Monkey in the carpark.

Monkey in the carpark.

There were two nearby places I had read about and wanted to see, but they were in opposite directions. I decided I would try and do them both. The first involved crossing Tai Po Road and heading right. I very quickly came across the cow I had met earlier. It was happily munching grass by the roadside. I stopped to photograph it and it looked at me and then crossed the road towards me. I quickly made my excuses and left, though as I said before, it wasn't in any way aggressive, just curious.

Happily munching grass.

Happily munching grass.

Where's it going?

Where's it going?

Seems to be crossing towards me.

Seems to be crossing towards me.

I'm off.

I'm off.

I came across a little park I didn't know existed. It was simply called Tai Po Kau Park and it was very pleasant with flowers, shelters and a fountain. I came across someone else's photos taken here and they had fantastic shots of colourful birds in the flowering trees. This is a lovely place to sit and relax. This park has clean toilets, too.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Tai Po Kau Park.

Fountain in Tai Po Kau Park..

Fountain in Tai Po Kau Park..

The bus stop after Chung Tsai Yuen is called Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout as there are good views from here over Tolo Harbour. It's also possible to see the giant Kuan Yin Statue near Tai Mei Tuk.

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout.

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout.

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout.

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout.

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout.

View from Chung Tsai Yuen Lookout.

Zooming in on Kuan Yin.

Zooming in on Kuan Yin.

I was heading for a house known as Tai Po Lookout. It is located at number 11 Lookout Link. It was built by British engineer Lawrence Gibbs at the beginning of the twentieth century and has a lookout tower on its roof. The lookout tower provides fantastic views over Tolo Harbour and towards Pat Sin Leng. The tower also functioned as a water storage tower. Gibbs diverted water from a nearby stream and even used this to fill the swimming pool in his garden. Over the years Tai Po Lookout has had many owners. In 1933 it was sold to John Alexander Fraser, a British judge. During the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, Fraser was interned as a prisoner of war in Stanley Prison where he died. His house was requisitioned by the Japanese, who used it as a torture chamber. After the war this building was used as a residence by Hong Kong government officials, such as the head of the secret service of the police. In 1996 the Lookout was converted into a hospice for AIDS patients. The hospice closed in 2000 and the Lookout became a private residence once again. It still is. The Lookout was declared a grade II historical building in 1985. Nowadays there is a proposal to raise it to grade I status. As the building is a private residence, I could only peer at it over its fence and hope I wasn't arrested as a potential burglar.

Lookout Link Sign.

Lookout Link Sign.

Lookout House.

Lookout House.

Lookout House.

Lookout House.

After looking at the Tai Po Lookout, I headed in the opposite direction, past Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, then downhill to see the Little Egret Nature Centre, which seems nowadays to also be called Kerry Lake Egret Centre and Lake House. On the way I passed a rather attractive residential complex called Constellation Cove. The Little Egret Nature Centre is a very striking building. I had noticed it many times from the KCR before I ever knew what it was. In the first few years that I worked in my school, we used to take the children on school trips to the Little Egret Nature Centre. They would learn about nature, do team building games, feed the pet goats and look at the ethnology museum here. One of the teachers always insisted we ate in the restaurant here, as it had very nice food. Nowadays the centre has been spruced up, but it only seems to open at weekends and on public holidays, so it obviously no longer does school trips. The restaurant here has got posher, too. It's called Billow Restaurant. There are nature walks around this area and many beautiful white egrets can be found here. Apparently in early spring the gardens here are filled with tulips. I didn't know this or if definitely have visited. This area is also near to the location of the old Tai Po Kau Station.

I struggled to find any information about the history of Lake House. It turns out that it only dates back to the mid 1990's. Property developers, Kerry Properties, bought the land here to build Constellation Cove, but because the lake and nearby mangroves were a conservation area they were told they would have to preserve them. They built Lake House next to the lake as a nature centre, event venue and restaurant.

Constellation Cove.

Constellation Cove.

Constellation Cove.

Constellation Cove.

Constellation Cove.

Constellation Cove.

River next to Little Egret Nature Centre.

River next to Little Egret Nature Centre.

Billow Restaurant in the Little Egret Nature Centre.

Billow Restaurant in the Little Egret Nature Centre.

Billow Restaurant in the Little Egret Nature Centre.

Billow Restaurant in the Little Egret Nature Centre.

After a quick look around here. I was getting hot and tired so I returned to the main Tai Po Road and took a number 72 bus to Cheung Sha Wan and from there caught the MTR and a bus back home. This was a much faster and cheaper way than I had come to the area.

Posted by irenevt 14:21 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (4)

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 Comments (6)

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