A Bit of Local History – White Trees in the Headlights

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A Strange Phenomenon

Today, the road system that runs from Kowloon through to the New Territories is made up of state-of-the-art highways. It is possible today to complete a journey in 30 minutes, which would in the past have taken several hours.

Before these highways were built, the main road that traveled around the New Territories was Castle Peak Road.  Castle Peak Road starts in Sham Shui Po, travels through Cheung Sha Wan,  to Tsuen Wan. It then continues along the coast to Castle Peak where it loops northwards towards the more distant parts of the New Territories.

In the early 70s, a strange phenomenon was witnessed along Castle Peak Road around the small country market town of Fanling (Fanling is now a city housing over 200,000 people). All along the old narrow road, the villagers noted that all the tree trunks have been painted white.

I myself observed this, although, at the time its significance was lost to me. It was in fact almost 35 years later that I discovered the reason for the strange phenomenon.

A bit of History

In the 70s Fanling was remote. There was no reason to go there unless you had a job in the area or were visiting relatives. Apart from Castle Peak Road and an infrequent bus service from Tai Po, the only other means of transportation was the Kowloon Canton Railway, which in those days still operated with diesel engines and open carriages.

The police station that was responsible for this quiet outback was very much self-contained; officers usually lived on-site or nearby. Only the most senior officers lived any distance away, and of course, they all had cars. 

One such officer had a reputation for enjoying a drink or two in the mess after work.  Legend has it that he was rescued on more than one occasion from the ditches that ran alongside Castle Peak Road. On one such occasion the officer had a dangerous altercation with one of the trees that lined the road and, as it was a good size tree, was very lucky to have survived.

The following morning the long-suffering Station Sergeant who had conducted the latest rescue, rounded up all the off-duty constables, supplied them with government-issued paintbrushes, tins of white paint, and drove them out to Castle Peak Road. This team of off-duty PCs spent the next few days painting all the tree trunks along the road white so that they would shine brightly in the officer’s headlights. Of course, it was optimistically assumed that the officer would have the sense to turn his headlights on.

The officer concerned retired at the rank of superintendent, alive, but no longer holding a valid driving license, in 2003.

White Trees in the Head Lights is an excerpt from May The Force Be With You, a collection of anecdotes about the Royal Hong Kong Police Force. The collection was published by Stewart Sloan in 2007.

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and if you would like to submit a story about a past experience it will be greatly appreciated. You can contact me at stewartgoeswalkies

stewartgoeswalkies has made a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Please try to avoid buying drinking water in plastic bottles when you can bring it from home in a reusable bottle or bladder. Let’s work together to save the planet.

Places of Interest: The Botanic Union

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The Botanic Union is located in Kau Liu Ha Village, Tai Po. To get there take the 64K KMB Bus from Tai Po Market Station bus terminus or the 25K Green Minibus from Tai Wo Station. Alight at Kau Liu Ha, cross Lam Kam Road to enter the village and turn right down Hang Kai Lane.

Next to the sign, you’ll find a very steep set of stairs which brings you on to Hang Kai Lane. Turn right and you are on your way to the place.

As you turn the corner, the Botanic Union comes into view

Entering the place brings you into a very interesting green haven.

Carrying on through this area brings you to the entrance to the small tuck shop which sells drinks, snacks, and gardening items.

 

 

Knick Knacks for sale in the shop

The service area inside the shop, they actually sell beer!

Insense and other items for sale, all diligently watched over by the store’s parrots.

When it was time to leave we went back out via the display and work area.

And finally:

There was still a lot to see and our photos only show a small part of the display. On our next visit, we’ll allow for more time. The management and staff of the Botanic Union have put a great deal of thought into their displays. There are plenty of gardening companies with equally beautiful plants but we have never seen anything to equal the creativity of the Botanic Union. It is well worth a visit.

To return to Tai Po simply walk back along Hang Kai Lane until you come to a short metal bridge that takes you up to the 64K bus stop. Be careful, it’s sturdy but narrow so watch where you put your feet.

However, if you’re a visitor to Tai Po you might like to visit the Wishing Tree which is just a ten-minute walk up Lam Kam Road. You can reward yourself for your efforts at one of the nearby drink shops. Alternatively, you can take a gentle walk back to the Tai Wo MTR via the Mue Shui Hang Park, which is always worth a visit.

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and if you would like to submit a story about a past experience it will be greatly appreciated. You can contact me at stewartgoeswalkies@gmail.com

stewartgoeswalkies has made a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Please try to avoid buying drinking water in plastic bottles when you can bring it from home in a reusable bottle or bladder. Let’s work together to save the planet.

Sunset Peak on Lantau – A Photo Essay by Oliver

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Oliver is a regular hiker and former rock climber who, in his youth spent many months trekking in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal. Here in Hong Kong, he accompanied me on many of my adventures and two of them can be seen here: The Tree on Majestic Slabs and Camping and Climbing at the Shek O Sea Cliffs – Snakeheads and Cheap Wine.

He has kindly forwarded this collection of photos of Sunset Peak, which he has climbed on several occasions

Oliver starts his hike from the Wong Lung Hang Picnic Site as he explains, it is less crowded. He heads in a westerly direction and descends onto Tung Chung Road which runs North to South across the island at Pak Kung Au, where public transportation in the form of buses or taxis can be taken back to Tung Chung

The quality of the trail varies but is generally in good condition and is well signposted.

There are Distance Posts all the way along the Trail and the first one offers some good advice.

Please note, the following photos appear in no particular order.

And of course, the reason why Sunset Peak got its name:

 

We hope you enjoyed this photo essay on one of the most beautiful mountains in the territory. I have climbed Sunset Peak a few times from various sides but never the route that Oliver takes. That will be one of my next outings in the near future.

PLEASE CREDIT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: OLIVER C. WIN WHEN USING ANY OF THE PHOTOS.

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and if you would like to submit a story about a past experience it will be greatly appreciated. You can contact me at stewartgoeswalkies@gmail.com

stewartgoeswalkies has made a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Please try to avoid buying drinking water in plastic bottles when you can bring it from home in a reusable bottle or bladder. Let’s work together to save the planet.