It’s hot and sticky but we’re going through a period of unusually clear skies in Hong Kong, so the heat doesn’t deter us from hiking. This week we followed a trail from Tseng Lan Shue on Clearwater Bay Road south across Black Hill and Devil’s Peak to Lei Yue Mun.
Standing on the high points of this ridge, you can look westwards directly down the length of Victoria Harbour. Click on the photo to view it at full size. Kowloon is on the right, and Hong Kong Island on the left. You may be able to pick out IFC Two, the Peak Tower, the Wanchai Convention Centre, Green Island, and the North Point ferry pier. Behind Kowloon, the twin summits of Lantau Island are just hidden in cloud. There are some days when you cannot even see Lantau from Kowloon, so this is exceptional.
We started walking through a lush green valley crossed by farmers’ aqueducts and full of dragonflies. Then, in the forest above Ma Yau Tong, we passed a tiny temple to Kwun Yam which is guarded by an army of garish cement statues — Chinese gods, Japanese soldiers, dancing girls, monkeys and tigers. I learnt from Phil at Oriental Sweetlips (a blog, not a Wanchai curtain bar) that these were made by an 84-year-old local gent a decade ago in his spare time. The Trumpton-like statues are crumbling now but the shrine is still tended.
As we reached the open hillside, Lion Rock appeared over Kowloon, and then great views of the harbour opened up to the west. Crossing Black Hill, clouds moved in behind us, keeping the horizon visibility high. A detour took us to the summit of Devil’s Peak, which is occupied by the ruins of an old British fort. This hilltop was the last position occupied by Commonwealth forces in their 1941 wartime evacuation of Kowloon. With emplacements for fixed guns, the fort has a clear field of fire over the eastern approaches to the harbour, but it was of little use against a land invasion from the north.
I had timed this walk to end at sunset in the hope of seeing the dozens of kites which choose to swirl over this end of the harbour in the early evening, and I wasn’t disappointed. The sky was full of them. Hidden by cloud for the previous 30 minutes, but bathing Kowloon in a golden light, the sun broke cover at this moment and coloured the whole scene red. The band of smog which usually swallows the sun an hour before dark was totally absent today.
A final descent brought us to the seaside shanty town of Lei Yue Mun, where the Tin Hau temple had closed for the night but seafood restaurants were opening for business. We took the little ferry over to Sai Wan Ho — a nice trip in itself — and enjoyed Thai food, and a bucket of beers, in the ferry pier.