When the first week of January presents you with 22’C and a perfect blue sky, there’s no way you can spend your day indoors. So we grabbed our Bush Baby (that’s the name of the baby carrier, not our nickname for the kid), filled up some water bottles, strapped on running shoes, and headed out the door to hike the Olympic Trail, which conveniently starts right here, in Mui Wo, practically in our backyard. It ends on the other side of the island in Pak Mong, an old village a stone’s throw from the modern mayhem highrise hell that is Tung Chung.
It was a pretty easy walk, starting from behind the Silvermine Waterfall and climbing up into the hills behind Mui Wo, which gave us a beautiful view of our village and the Silvermine Beach.
It was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous hike through mostly untouched forest, though unfortunately the entire path has been paved with concrete, so if you want to really feel the earth beneath your feet, the Olympic Trail may be a bit boring for you. Lots of people were out hiking that day though — mostly old people! — which I suppose is a sign of how user-friendly this route is.
After hiking for almost two hours we reached a nice little pagoda where we could take a rest and give the kid a snack. From this viewpoint, we could see the other side of Lantau, and all the millions of highrises in the distance in Tuen Mun, on Kowloon side. Lots of planes were also coming in for landing at the nearby airport.
After the pagoda, we continued downhill towards the last village on the route, Pak Mong. Lantau is full of indigenous villages where the same families have lived for centuries in tiny, rural communities. But slowly, and surely, as the government moves to ‘develop’ more land, the villagers are trying to fight back. There were signs of protest all over this area of the hike, berating the government for trying to split up the villages and steal their land. But we also came across a lot of abandoned buildings as people move away from these villages to go enjoy the ‘conveniences’ of the city.
At Pak Mong village we found a few people puttering around, but mostly it was quiet, and a lot of the buildings seemed abandoned too. A young woman carrying a white Pompek in her arms smiled as we walked through the village square, but other than that we didn’t see any people.
The only bad part about this hike is that after going through the beautiful wilderness of Lantau, and listening to the rustling of the trees and the whistling of the bamboo, and taking a peek at the old ways of village life, you then exit the trail and have to cross under the huge highway that goes to Tung Chung and to the airport. From the waterfront we could see loads of machinery in the water, working on the soon-to-come the giant Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which will connect this beautiful island to two neighbouring cities in the Pearl Delta. The bridge comes dangerously close to Pak Mong, and I’m sure the villagers are watching in dismay as this USD $10 billion megaproject spits out Chinese drivers onto a highway right in their front yard.
All in all, the Olympic Trail is a beautiful walk through the forests and at just under 6km it’s pretty easy. It’s just a shame it has to end in Tung Chung. Yuck.