"It’s often been said that one is allowed to be reckless twice in life. One is when it comes to love and the other is travel. But with the current situation, where can we go in Hong Kong?”
That's when I got the idea to set off on a camping trip. In general, city folks love camping because life is so stressful. Walk into nature and enjoy a moment of calm. But one night out camping is simply not enough. Why not stay a few more days? But then, you wake up to the same scenery and the excitement of adventure is lost. However, a "walking camp" is a totally different matter. You need to carry gear from one camping site to another through high and low hills, valleys, and waterfalls. You also get to meet people from all walks of life. These trips give you great memories.
My first walking camp took me through four famous beaches in Sai Kung and to Cheung Tsui known as “Land’s End”. Compared to the Maclehose Trail or the Lantau Trail, this a great route with stunning world-class scenery, ideal for new hikers.
Day 1: Sai Wan Kiosk > Tai Long Sai Wan > Ham Tin Wan > Tai Wan Beach (camping)
Day 2: Tai Wan > Tung Wan > Cheung Tsui (camp site)
Day 3: Cheung Tsui > Tung Wan > Tai Wan > Tai Long Au > Chek Kang (take a boat back to Wong Shek Pier / walk from Pak Tam Au)
Total distance: 17 kilometres
Average walking time: 2-3 hours
I would like to point out a few key points regarding this route: firstly, equipment should be as light as possible, ideally a comfortable weight of around one-third of body weight; secondly, choose a camp site with water and supplies to reduce load; and thirdly, the exit route should be marked clearly in advance in case there is any unexpected incident, and you need to end the route early.
Because of shooting, I had to carry 17 kg of load, but it didn't matter as it was autumn. The sun was shining but not too harsh. The weather was warm. It’s the perfect season for camping. I took a taxi to the starting point at Sai Wan Kiosk and got cheers from other hikers. A group of young men and women were carting provisions along. I think they are planning an outdoor camp. I've always envied camping during my younger days, with a group of friends around a fire, playing the guitar and humming songs. But as I grew older, I enjoyed being alone. Watching other people happy can be infectious.
It took one hour to walk from Sai Wan Kiosk to Tai Long Sai Wan, pass Man Yee Reservoir. The dark green and warm blue colours of the pools gave an impression of an oil painting. In the distance you saw Kam Kei Shek. This was an easy trail except for a slight incline down from Tsui Tung Au, so take your time. Tai Long Sai Wan has many restaurants where you can replenish provisions. Sai Wan faces directly east towards the Pacific Ocean and is prone to undercurrents due to its shallow waters. There are no shark nets or lifeguards, and there have been many drowning incidents in the past. In fact, it is one of the five most dangerous beaches in Sai Kung. Although the beach is a surfing mecca, be cautious before taking a dip.
Follow Sai Wan beach to the second section of Maclehose Trail and set off for the next beach – Kam Tin Wan. This is a government paved footpath and is easy to follow except for a few ramped stairs. Enjoy the endless sea along the way. Soon you’ll pass a stargazing platform in the form of a serpentine. Built by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, it is made of glass fibre and incorporates ergonomics designed for hikers and campers to watch stars. But in my opinion, nature is better when it is simple and pure. Look down and you see cow droppings on the ground, a proof that they belong here among nature.
沿著⻄灣沙灘走接上麥⾥浩徑⼆段，出發去下⼀個沙灘–鹹⽥灣，這是政府舖設的⼭徑，非常好走， 只是要上少量斜路樓梯，沿途都是⼀望無際的⼤海。路過由漁護署興建的蛇形觀星台，據說⽤了玻璃纖維，附合⼈體功學，⽅便遠⾜或露營⼈⼠觀星。但在我看來，⼤⾃然還是簡單純撲⼀點好， 看，地上⽜⽜的糞便才屬於這裡的。
There weren't many people along the way, except for a couple of foreigners each carrying a bottle of red wine. They really know how to enjoy life. “Almost there!” said the lady hiker. Encouragement received but that’s a beautiful lie as it took me at least half an hour to reach Ham Tin Wan beach. The first thing I did was to pick up and touch some sand. Indeed, the sand is white and smooth.
沿路沒⾒幾個⼈，唯有⼀對外藉情侶，他們每⼈背了⼀⽀紅酒，真懂享受⽣活呢～他看我背著龜殼走得吃⼒，就跟我打氣說：Almost there! ( 快到了！）謝謝她的⿎勵，但這句說話是⾏⼭界最⼤的美麗謊⾔呢。花了半⼩時就到鹹⽥灣，第⼀時間是拿起沙摸⼀下，真的比較⽩徹細滑。
Passing through the classic wooden bridge built by the inhabitants of Kam Tin Wan, I reached a tuck shop for some siu mai and tofu pudding. You can add sugar water or syrup into the pudding. But as both are the same colour, it’s easy to mix them up. By now, it’s only a 15-minute walk from Ham Tin Wan to Tai Wan but as it was getting dark, I stopped looking for water source and simply got myself bottles of water from the tuck shop.
Tai Wan is the biggest of the four beaches in the area. The moment I reached this beach, a westerner who looked like Aquaman appeared. At first, I couldn't hear what he said, probably because I was a bit shy... Oh, he was warning me that wild boars roamed around at night. Before the border was closed, I would always imagine that I would meet Mr. Right one day when I was travelling alone to other places. Perhaps it is the excitement of the unknown that deepens the pleasure of every trip.
I found a flat spot to set up camp and used large rocks to set it down. This is the only way to set up camp in sand without spikes. It was nightfall but I wasn't hungry, so I made a cup of hot chocolate and added in some marshmallows. There is little light pollution here and is a great location for stargazing. I looked up at the stars and remembered what my dad said: "If you can't see the stars, shut your eyes and open them again. You’ll see more when your pupils dilate as everything takes time to adjust. I decided to call home to tell my family where I was. My dad took the call and told me to send him my current location so he can come and get me. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to cry. My dad can’t read a map, so how can he come and fetch me? Of course, he was just checking that I was all right! In my parents’ eye, I will always be a child. It’s about love and concern, so I must do my best to take care of myself. Not to be impulsive but be responsible. Hopefully, they would worry less about me.
The first night ended with a simple meal of rice noodles and hot chocolate. When I woke up at 6 am, I thought I would go back to bed as it was blurry, but an hour later when I looked up, the sun had risen. I was the only one on the beach. The waves were calm and there was a reflection over the water as the sun shone. At that moment, the site reminded me of Ha Pak Lai.
After a good night's sleep, I packed up and left for Cheung Tsui around 10 am. Unlike the paved Maclehose Trail, the journey to Tung Wan is rugged, with lots of ups and downs, so you need a walking stick to cushion your knees. It takes about half an hour to reach Tung Wan beach. The entrance to Cheung Tsui is relatively hidden and is located on the far-left side. On the way, a group of men asked for directions and said they would like to walk with me. I told them that I was taking my time hiking and reminded them that they should download the map of the area beforehand. Although I knew they weren't bad people, as a female hiker, I need to develop a high level of awareness and learn to protect myself.
When I finally got on the road to Cheung Tsui, I looked back from the top of the peak and saw that I had trekked through four beaches in one go. Right here is a great Instagram spot! 90% of this road section has absolutely no shade so make sure you have adequate sun protection. Some male hiker friends thought it was not cool to wear hats and umbrellas and, in the end, they ended up getting sunburned. Safety always comes first!
The cloudless sky in front blended with the blue sea, and the horizon met the sky. A view you simply can't get enough of. There is something magical about this place that makes you ponder. This is no need to rush, just follow along and enjoy beauty from your own perspective. This is what makes travelling alone so free and special.
Cheung Tsui is a headland at the eastern end of Sai Kung extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The easternmost side of Hong Kong outside Tung Ping Chau and other outlying islands. I got carried away walking along the ridge and climbed up to the top of the high 98-metre peak. The path down was covered in loose sand and small rocks, so I had to sit down to rest. But, when I saw the flat grassy slope facing the sea in front of me, that was the camp site. I just had to keep going! When I got to the foot of the peak, I couldn't help but exclaim, "Tell yourself you can do it, and you will!”
There is a seasonal water source near Cheung Tsui and luckily the water was clear and plentiful on that day, a small blessing for campers. I chose to camp on a lone spot and would have liked to walk around if it hadn't been so late in the day. But it does matter because the hills are here to stay! I had a good day out, cooked myself a simple hotpot with fatty beef and onion with white rice. There was a full moon. Lucky or what? Late at night, I put my head out of the tent and watched the stars, and soon I fell asleep.
The sunrise in Cheung Tsui is the most beautiful I have seen. It felt so close and yet so far away. In the morning, I sat on the grass and made myself a cup of hot coffee, watching the sunrise and praying with emotion. I thanked God for allowing me to be in Hong Kong and giving me the strength to discover and promote these places, and to let more people know about the beauty of Hong Kong. After a light breakfast, I was able to walk around, starting with a little valley called Tai Long Tsui. Across the road are rows of rocks. I watched as the powerful white-headed waves lapped against the rocky shore, which would have killed me if I had fallen into the sea. I felt a sense of awe and admiration. It’s not about conquering nature, but rather to be grateful for being part of nature. Words of wisdom taught to a young hiker by a senior peer.
Some of my predecessors came here for 5 days and 4 nights, I didn't believe them at first, but now I understand why. Because I simply can't get enough of this place. The topography of Cheung Tsui is unique. It faces the sea, has hills, lowlands, streams and plains. The view from the top of the 116-metre unknown peak overlooking Tuen Tsui to the left is a view of its own. I put my hand flat over Tuen Tsui to take a picture of it and the effect was interesting!
I loved carrying weight. What a crazy statement! But it's true. My shoulders were sore and my feet heavy. I was breathing deeply and quickly. Yet it made me feel alive. Because it is a difficult trail, I was forced to slow down. I enjoyed every moment. It is only through trials and tribulations that I realised the true meaning of happiness. It is learning to cherish everything that is in front of me.