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Hong Kong Trail Part 4, Hong Kong: Tai Tam Reservoir to Shek O

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Start of Part 4: Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir

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End of Part 4: Shek O village from Tai Tau Chau

This spring has been quite terrible here in Hong Kong. It rains everyday, and just like back in Shanghai, you rejoice when you get the sun, because it is rather rare. So it is with this I told myself, whatever happens I’m out to complete the Hong Kong trail this weekend. That would be Section 7 & 8 according to the official map. This would mean starting off at Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir, go right through to To Tei Wan and then up to the Dragon’s Back mountain trail and ending up at Big Wave Bay. Lets just get to the plot here, to mention that there’s a Part 5 after all, and I never made it to Section 8 on this trip as Dragon’s Back trail is a little too tough to complete in one afternoon along with the hike from Tai Tam reservoir.

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GPS plots of the path (in green) for Part 4, with Stanley and Shek O in the picture for positioning

It’s the usual. After filling up on a heavy brunch, I’m off by MTR to Shau Kei Wan, and then onto bus 14 on the main road just before Chai Wan Road. Booted up my Garmin Colorado 300 GPS and got off the bus right before the reservoir. There are not too much space here for any lingering. The dam is so narrow, there is only room on the top for a 2 laned road, so the views will have to be appreciated either in the vehicle, or on one end of the dam. Water is choppy due to a drizzle, with wind from the sea whipping up small waves.

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A road runs on the Tai Tam reservoir dam, but being narrow, I don’t think I want to walk on it while double decker buses come charging down one side.

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Tai Tam Bay

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The initial part of the trek is along thick forests, along a concrete path, so it is quite safe.

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Tai Tam reservoir viewed across from the other side of Tai Tam Bay

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Tai Tam Bay coastline

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Lan Nai Wan Village

Then it is a short walk up Tai Tam Road before going into the forest on the right following a path where I left off in Part 3. Here the path should be rated as easy as it follows a catch water and the altitude reading on my GPS is pretty much constant throughout. Under this heavy tree cover, there are no photo opportunities except for plants macro. The trail are paved almost all the way to Tung Ah Pu Village. The trail is not really straight, quite simply because it follows the contour lines of the hillside. There are some areas where there are clearings and this is where the views of Tai Tam Harbor can be had. It looks across to a bunch of apartments on Red Hill. Some sections I could see Lan Nai Wan village in the foreground and the expensive houses on Red Hill in the background. So a nice mid telephoto lens like 105mm can be useful here. Wide angle lenses are ok, but because there are always shoulder level undergrowth, it is not possible to get a clear shot. When I was there, there were patches of rain cloud and some patches of sunlight, so I was hoping for perfect lighting to capture an interesting shot. I don’t think I was given that opportunity anyway.

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Tung Ah Village

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Tung Ah Village upclose

Tung Ah Village looks quite interesting. The houses there are old, no doubt, but it has a long jetty and it is around this area when the vegetations start to change. There are no longer tree shelter on the path and the plants look more like the ones you see near the seaside. However we are still about 40m above sea level at this stage but in the lighter tree cover, there are huge boulders made of reddish colored rocks.

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Not too easy to see, but its a speed boat turning back to retrieve a fallen water skier

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From here the forests give way to thick undergrowth that’s more representative of a coastal ecosystem

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To Tei Wan, with the storms closing in...

It is somewhere near Ngan Hang Village when the trail turns from the familiar concrete into compacted earth and starts to go downhill. This continues all the way to To Tei Wan beach, I saw a sign that says the proper name for it is Deity Beach. This looks like where most of the watersports freaks take off. I counted sailing, water skiing and so on. My interest is somewhere else. It is almost 5pm right now, having spent about 4 hours to get form Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir to where I am. The path starts to climb from here up to Shek O road. The climb is tough but concrete stairs make it easy to climb in all weather. I’m tired because I think I’ve seen and climbed too many hills lately. Right along the road is the bus stop for Bus number 9 that will take you all the way back to Shau Kei Wan, or if you prefer, to Shek O. I checked my watch and there is no way I could make it on to Dragon’s back and to Big Wave Bay before night fall. So time to call it quits for now, and headed over to Shek O. The only way to get there is by bus since the road is narrow and you’d be nuts to be walking with bus traveling FAST on it.

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I will miss Cape D’Aguilar this time, but I will be back on this one...

Made it to Shek O with an hour and half of light left for the evening according to my GPS sunset computation. Bus 9 stops right in the middle of Shek O town, and a short uphill walk brings you to Shek O Headland where plenty of cliffs await. The obvious thing when you get here for the first time is that this a choice spots for locals to shoot their wedding photos. I can’t recall how many brides and bridemaids I’ve seen during my walk here. More of them than groom for sure. At the headland on the way to Tai Tau Chau, I’ve tried to set up my tripod and take pictures of the waves crashing onto the rocks, but it is impossible as this place is filled with girl modeling for photographers. There is one corner where there were at least ten men with SLR cameras and funny flash diffusers shooting a swim suit model lying on the rocks. It must hurt.

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Downtown Shek O

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Village life in Shek O

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Tai Tau Chau from Shek O Headlands

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Rock patterns at the ocean end of Tai Tau Chau

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Storms closing in, I took at least 20 pictures here, having brought a tripod but forgetting my RRS L-bracket of all things... This is a few second exposure to create the silky smooth waves.

Tai Tau Chau is an easy walk, and it is possible to walk all the way to the end. The trick here is that the farther you go towards the end, you get less photographers. I guess models don’t like hiking. Right at the end is some water station of some sort, but there is a rocky platform large enough if you are willing to jump the railing. There is enough space here to picnic with the waves crashing below you. The air here is filled with salt water mist, so keep your expensive equipment in the bag. It was close to 6pm when I got here, and it is time to have a last break before I make my way back to Shau Kei Wan on bus 9 to mark the end of Part 4.

Moving Time: 2hrs 50mins Stopping Time: 3hrs 12mins Odometer: 14.95km Moving Average Speed: 5.3km Total Ascent: 367m Max Elevation: 44m

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Stormy seas from Tai Tau Chau

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Storm closing in on Stanley

Next and last part: Go to Part 5...