Hong Kong’s Great Outdoors

They call it a ‘long weekend’, but it always ends up feeling shorter than the usual weekend. Before you know it, you’re waking up for another morning at work!

By the way, I don’t know if you know this, but these 3 days we get off for Easter are actually not public holidays. There are 5 holidays that labour workers do not get to rest on; specifically these 3 days for Easter, Boxing Day, and also Buddha’s Birthday (which is coming up soon). That’s why our construction sites were actually open over this long weekend, and lots of us engineers had to come in for work over the holiday. We get to choose to rest on another day, but we don’t get an extra day’s pay. On the other hand, if labour workers are asked to work on a statutory holiday, the law requires employers to compensate them both that day’s pay and another day of rest. Nothing much that affects me really, but just a ‘did you know’ kind of fact.

So yes, this Easter weekend was packed with activities for me. I don’t recall eating a single meal at home, nor did I have time to watch my usual TV. Instead, I spent a lot of time enjoying the great outdoors of Hong Kong, and sometimes it’s hard to even believe these vast patches of environment exist within this concrete jungle!

On Friday, we hiked Dragon’s Back, near Shek O. It’s a simple minibus ride away from Shau Kei Wan MTR Station, and the hike itself is actually quite easy. Compare it to say, the Grouse Grind, where you’re actually hiking 800 meters up the vertical – Dragon’s Back is a mere 200 or so meters. That doesn’t make the view any less beautiful! If you’re looking for an easy, yet rewarding hike, I’d say this one has quite a high ratio. Expect the hike to take around three to four hours, depending on your level of fitness.

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Saturday was interesting. We went over to the High Island Reservoir, located about a half hour drive away from Sai Kung, and walked around for a bit. That area used to have volcanic activity (but we’re talking about like thousands of millions of years ago), and as a result, there are interesting hexagonal-shaped pillars that formed in the rocks. These rocks actually were not discovered until the past fifty years or so, when this reservoir was built, because a lot of the material used to make the dams was taken from the rocks in the area. So anyway, that’s why the area around the reservoir is now known as one of the Hong Kong Geoparks.

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Looking at pillars took us almost no time at all. So how did we manage to stay in the area for the entire day? Well, we went on another hike. This time it was a lot more physically draining than Dragon’s Back (although I would say still manageable). The only scary part was the shortcut we took, which probably saved us an hour but we literally climbed up a water drain and around the edge of a cliff.

(In the picture below, the shortcut is on the side closer to you where the dam ends. There is a waterway that starts there, and you just climb onto that, then around the cliff. If you want the safer route, you scale the mountain to the left of the picture, but that’s a pretty big mountain.)

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After that, it was all pretty straightforward. There were lots of ups and downs, but I got through it okay. There is no “official” path, but there are paths that have come out of many previous trekkers, and every time we were unsure of which route to take, we would just look for the markers that lovely people left behind for us.

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The scenery was beautiful. While I was standing in the middle of a few hills, I felt like I was in the final scene of The Sound of Music, where the family is running away. When you look out to the water, that’s literally the Pacific Ocean. It’s so weird to think that somewhere on the other side of this huge body of water, is the city I call home.

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(Don’t forget, you can click into that panorama shot for a better view!)

In case you don’t have a good sense of direction, here’s a better picture of our route. We started at the green dot, which is where the edge of the dam is located (ie. the waterway we climbed up), and then followed the marked path which pretty much took us along the red trail I few in.

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So yeah, there’s a few new spots in Hong Kong for you! This city never ceases to amaze me with new wonders.

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