Last weekend a group of friends and I joined up with the Green Lantau Association, a local environmental group based in Lantau. Lantau is actually the biggest island in Hong Kong, extremely mountainous and not so populated. I found their website and saw that they do monthly trail walks, beach clean ups, and environmental activism. A bunch of us who live in Discovery Bay decided to join them.
We started off by taking the kai-to to Mui Wo to meet up with the crew.
From Mui Wo bay we took a 40-minute bus ride to the tiny fishing town of Tai O, to join up with the rest of the hiking group to start our 6-hour journey. The group was led by three excellent bush walkers who were extremely well organized and had backpacks full of everything you could ever need on a hike, including a strange little zapping machine that numbed the skin on my knee when I had a very painful reaction to some local plant!
Green Lantau hike leader Fabian shows us the Lantau Trail, part of which we would be walking that day, and gives us some information about the village.
The hike was truly fabulous, with a little bit of everything — dense bush, amazing coastal views, lush green mountains, waterfalls and sandy beaches. We hiked up some very overgrown and rough trails where the grass had grown so high we practically had to crawl through to the other side, and at other times the path was well maintained and easily walked.
We also had the opportunity to come face to face with some of Hong Kong’s local creepy crawlies.
I think this picture needs no explanation! But check out this dude’s back — doesn’t it look like a white scull? Creepy… Very ‘Silence of the Lambs’.
We then passed through a small village that apparently is not very friendly to outsiders, but luckily we had no run-ins with the locals. These people are really living a VERY quiet life… I can’t imagine how people live in such a remote area, no roads, no supermarkets, no nothing! Some don’t even have electricity, and forget about cell phones and such.
I thought this was kind of interesting — almost every house in the village had similar pictures of these very rugged looking gentlemen stuck up on their doors, apparently for spiritual protection.
We then headed deeper into the bush and passed through some abandoned old towns, where the people had traditionally lived as farmers and fishermen, but now every last resident had moved out from the bush and into the city for work. I suppose that happens a lot in Hong Kong.
On a less jungley section of the part, overlooking a beautiful bay.
Thank goodness for this cut path, or the brush fire would have continued spreading over the mountain.
I also had the opportunity to chat with two very interesting souls who were also on the hike that day, Paul Coleman and his wife Konomi-san. Paul is known as the ‘Earthwalker’ because that is literally what he does — he walks all over the earth. Right now, he and Konomi-san are actually walking from Hong Kong to Beijing. For those of you who didn’t pay attention in geography class, that is a hell of a long walk, and they expect it will take about ten months to complete. Paul started walking 17 years ago as part of his own personal environmental movement, which then combined with tree-planting, and now Paul walks all over the globe giving talks, raising awareness, and planting trees. Their ultimate goal is to plant 1 million trees. I hope they make it.
After the hike, we were all exhausted, but not too exhausted to eat! We took the bus back to Mui Wo bay and ate a massive and delicious meal at the waterfront market, and drank massive bottles of very cold beer. I thought it was great that such a big and diverse group of people from all walks of life could share a great day together and top it off with a nice dinner too. Then we went to the China Bear, the popular pub in Mui Wo, to have a drink while we waited for the ferry before heading home.