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Hong Kong Trail Part 1, Hong Kong: Peak to Aberdeen

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Two IFC Tower from the Peak

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This section of the trail is going through mainly Pok Fu Lam reservoir system

I have always thought that the Hong Kong trail was at least 100km long, but I was brought to realize that it is only half of that. It is Maclehose Trail that is of that distance. Then again, the closest one to where I live should always be the one to try out first. So, the rough plan is this (there is never a real plan when it comes to a good hike) I will break it down to either 4 or 5 sections that I can do in a day each (finally it ended up that I will need 5 days to cover it all), and time it so that I start off around noon, and end up before sundown someplace where I can extract myself back to civilization, which for me means a public transport of some sort. That should put the daily distance between 12-15km. My GPS and a camera will come along to document the trip. The Hong Kong trail is an interesting one, and what a way to present a long hike but like this: start off in the picturesque vista up on the Peak mingling with the tourists and ending the hike couple of days later at Shek O beach right on the eastern end of Hong Kong island.

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Google Earth view of the first half of the trek

However, let me start by saying that I suck at writing, and especially checking for typing errors - but it has to be done. I start the hike by taking bus 15 from the bus terminus at Central, next to the Hong Kong Airport Express station. This bus is filled to the brim with tourists, but guess tourists would be the first group you'd expect to be taking that bus up to the Peak. The bus winds its way up till it reaches Peak Galeria (22.270343, 114.14996). This is one last chance to top up that big bottle of water, and some ice cream and coffee before I dive into nature.

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Private apartment buildings in Central

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View of Hong Kong Central from Lugard Road

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And Kowloon... converted to black and white thanks to the bad weather on the day I was there...

The trail starts off on the left of the Peak Tower and all that is necessary is to follow Lugard Road. Say good bye to all the tourists while I go anti clockwise around Victoria Peak. After a few hundred metres, is where you get the scenic part of the trail where most of the pictures of the city’s skyscrapers I have seen was taken. You get to see the major landmarks in Kowloon and Hong Kong island from here. This part of the trail is easy, with some adventurous tourists going on the bitumen covered trail, probably even wide enough for a small service golf cart. So far there is no elevation changes yet. Before long, I come across the junction of Harlech Road. Now this section is confusing, there is a right-right that goes along Hatton Road. Skipped that. Then there’s a right-left that goes along Harlech road, and looks like it is leading downhill with a slope on the left - This is the one I took. The other two roads, one leads to High West, wherever that is, and the one on the left leads back to the Peak Galeria.

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Lugard Road path in heavy fog

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I head downhill along Harlech Road, till I reach a picnic area (site number 2, if I remember the sign well enough) which is an area with some shelter, remains of a war battery and a nice view of Cyberport and what looks like Lantau Island and Lamma Island in the distance. This is an ideal place to have a break. The next step is to continue down a staircase into the bush, and this is the first part where the elevation drops significantly. In effect I’m walking down stairs here, and going towards Pok Fu Lam reservoir. There are some sections here with plenty of trees, and some section with low undergrowth, so a cap and sunscreen would be appropriate on a hot day. Not too much photo opportunity here unfortunately, the view being pretty average.

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Satellite map of the second half of the trek

When close to Pok Fu Lam reservoir, this is where I realized I took a shortcut to the real Hong Kong Trail. I took the steps down to the reservoir and took a relaxing calm walk along the western edge of the lake along a service road. There is an option to bail out here toward Pok Fu Lam village where there should be buses leading to most destinations, but this is still early in the day, and I’m not done yet. Reaching the north-eastern part of the lake, the path starts to lead uphill again, but still remaining on the road. At this point the road goes along a valley with a stream to my left. Before long I find another camping site on the rock next to the stream and a small waterfall. I later learnt that this road is Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road. Pictures taken at the site follows:

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Now we start the uphill part of the trek, but on service roads, so a good pair of shoe is required, and this is not really that hardcore, considering it is on paved road. I took the right turn towards Aberdeen once I get to the first junction. Soon the trail passes a covered reservoir and this also marks the end of the paved trail. After this, it is uphill again on walking trails with some tree cover. This will be the start of a long boring walk. iPods recommended for this stretch. You will go along a combination of jungle trail and concrete catchwater paths for at least 1.5km. I don’t know what to say about this section, its long, and when I walked it around 5pm,  I was wondering if there is a way down hill without navigating the steep slopes. It’s possible to see the apartment buildings to the right at this stage while walking along the catchwater.

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The hill is Mount Davis, with Kennedy Town on the right and off the picture on the left would be Pok Fu Lam town...

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Electrical pylons cut across Hong Kong island through the hills

Soon the catch water trail merges with a road leading up from the Aberdeen Country Park entrance. It is quite easy to tell when near. First, there will be plenty of sound from visitors here, talking loudly is the norm here. Second, it will be possible to smell barbecued meat. There has to be a big barbecue park somewhere close-by. Since it is close to 6pm at this time, I thought it would be a perfect time to end Part 1 of this trail. Turning right, I go past all the weekenders grilling their stereotypical barbecue food: sausages and chicken wings (no marshmallows in this part of the world). There are quite a number or barbecue pits here, but this is the least of my interest, I need to get to a bus and as a bonus, a convenience store to grab a bar of Snickers or something sweet to replenish energy after 5 hours of walking.

The route down to Aberdeen from the park entrance is this really steep and long road downhill. When you go along down the road, the only thought on your mind, after walking that long is whether you will have to climb back up again if it does not lead to a town with a bus stop! At the bottom, I get back to civilization and after grabbing a bottle of tea, took bus 76 back to Causeway Bay, marking the end of Section 1.

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This is one of the first building that greets you when you walk out of the steep downhill Aberdeen reservoir park entrance

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I have collected the tracks on my GPS but did not note the odometer, but I’m sure the route I took today is around 12km.

Continue to Part 2...