"Rome was not built in all day and neither is nature. You think hills are only greens and the sea blues, but you are wrong. The bricks of a city fade in colour and crumb away eventually, but nature is truly a spectacular world that is constantly evolving.”
Today, I would like to introduce you to a place that is deep red – Port Island. It is a part of the Shuen Wan Country Park and has been listed a Hong Kong global geopark. At the end of the volcanic period 180 million years ago, the area was subjected to a long dry spell. The climate was so hot that the rocks on the peaks weathered and crumbled into the plains to form sediments in which iron-bearing minerals transformed into red iron oxide, forming the red colour of the island. Many people visit Port Island only to swim along the beach, but the many changes in the earth have created a few unusual characteristics on the south-eastern side of the island, which are truly spectacular.
To get to Port Island, I bought a white swimming costume along to match the red rocks for a great shot! As a woman, I want to look my best! Visit Port Island by boarding a boat from Wong Shek Pier. It takes around 20 minutes to reach this crimson land. Right in front of us is the first attraction – Dharma Cave. Surrounded by solid rock formations, there is the only round cave, just big enough for one person to sit inside and imagine being a monk. Later, I reflected that these strange rock formations had taken millions of years to form and were too fragile and precious to be stepped on, just like Bluff Head and should be protected.
Several abandoned facilities remain from the British garrison on Port Island. As we walk up the concrete bridge, we cross a grassy stretch and was greeted by an endless coastline. We look ahead and see a rock formation shaped like a goat's horn, a mountain peak looking over the sea. It takes just ten minutes to reach the top where it overlooks the whole of Port Island. You can't help but marvel at the power of nature over a clear ridge of crimson peaks. Whereas red gives the impression of passion, romance and mystery, here is another dimension. On the sea by the goat’s horn are rows of rocks eroded by the sea over thousands of years. If you look carefully and use your imagination, you can just make out rock formations that resemble two small dogs.
As you walk down the hill, you get to a wall of rocks extending from the peak to the sea, resembling a giant snake slowly entering the water, a phenomenon known geologically as differential erosion. Rocks have different resistance to erosion - in simple terms, the hard rock is left behind from weathering and the soft rocks are washed away, leaving parts of the rock to hollow out. As we walked on the snake's back to take photos, eureka! Directly beneath is a heart shape pond not mentioned in any travelogue! As we walked slowly down, we stepped on what looked like a massive spider's web of rocks that had peeled off. It resembled a caramel biscuit or a honey rusk looking at it from the side. I guess we must be hungry! The water was too stagnant to go in, we took photos and left.
The scary things you find in the four corners of Port Island are the appearance of feet of little birds! Some look like feet, others just webs. In fact, the government once planned to build a statue of a swallow on the island to attract this species back to the area, but since the island was later designated as a geopark with more visitors. This caused many swallows to migrate. Sometimes I wonder how to strike a balance between promoting the beauty of Hong Kong and attracting more people to visit as opposed to the potential harm on nature that results with more visits. All we can do now is to make more people aware of environmental protection.
After a long hot day, it was finally time to go into the water. First, we went down to the eroded cave on Port Island. Careful where you walk through the cave as there are extremely sharp quartz rocks. There's nothing special about the cave, except that there's quite a bit of ocean litter and a lot of midges in the cave. These pesty flies are worse than mosquitoes. Their sting last long so one needs to have persistence to stay on to take photos before leaving.
There are a lot of strange rock formations on Port Island. I don't know if it because of generation gap as what was named by our predecessors looks like a red horse. To us post-90s we think it looks like a space shuttle while what was originally a red rabbit with its hands up looks like Agumon from Digimon Adventure. That's the funny thing about rocks, what looks dead but is in fact a history book. Every rock and crack are symbols of an old story but at the same time, interpreted another way by people from different generations.
Continue south along the coast and get to a patchwork of giant red-pink large pebbles, each one an art piece! The aerial view of this site from the sky is more stunning! It turns out that this pebbled beach changes colour from iron red in contrast with the green sea to red, reddish pink, bright pink... With the crystal-clear green ocean water, it's so beautiful, it makes every girl burst with joy!
Walk through the rocky beach and pass through a peculiar area of water in which we had to crouch down to pass through. It feels like a scene from The Mummy! It’s after 5pm and we had arranged for a boatman to pick us up at 6pm from North Bay but we still had one last destination - Red Desert Maze! The sand is smooth and fine but as we didn't have enough time, we could only get a quick glimpse before leaving.
We tried to call the boatman to see if he can pick us up here. He refused because of the strong waves. With half an hour to go before the boat arrives, my companion and I had no choice but to walk as fast as we can the way back. We had to climb 132 metres up to the top of Port Island before descending to North Bay. It is rare for people to reach the south of Port Island along the hills. The cell phone signal here is very weak. We will need to alert the boatman with our aerial camera that we are on our way if we are unable to arrive in time. There seems always to be little glitches. I guess this is life! Unfortunately, I had a relapse of an old foot wound, and every step I took felt like piercing needles. It took less than 45 minutes but a lot of pain to get there. When I finally got on the boat, I looked back at Port Island. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I couldn't help but felt proud that my sweat had merged with this crimson land. It is wonderful to be part of something so magical!