Trees – Their Beauty and Our Need to Protect Them

Introduction

My love and deep respect for trees and nature, in general, have been mentioned on numerous occasions on these pages. During the past few months, there have been incidents involving trees in urban areas falling, injuring people and causing damage. As a result of these accidents, in various parts of the territory trees are being examined, and in some cases, destroyed as it has been found that their root systems are not strong enough to support their weight.

A few of my articles on trees may be found here, here and here.

A Press Report

Following is an excerpt from an article which appeared in the South China Morning Post, “14-metre-tall Chinese banyan tree in Hong Kong collapses near sitting-out area, but no pedestrians were harmed”.  The full article may be seen here.

 

The Chinese banyan collapsed at Luen Wan Street in Mong Kok on Tuesday morning. Photo: Sam Tsang
The Chinese banyan collapsed at Luen Wan Street in Mong Kok on Tuesday morning. Photo: Sam Tsang

A 14-metre-tall Chinese banyan listed as one of Hong Kong’s “old and valuable trees” since 2004 toppled near the Mong Kok East railway station on Tuesday, breaking a lamp post in the process.

The accident, which followed the collapse of a branch that killed a villager in Tai Po last week, was “the exemplar” representing authorities’ years-long tree mismanagement problem, according to an expert.

The tree in the latest accident had a crown spread of 25 metres. It collapsed onto the Luen Wan Street pavement in Mong Kok soon after 9am, according to police. The site is just a stone’s throw away from a sitting-out area.

A police spokeswoman said the tree hit and broke a lamp post, but no pedestrians were hit. She said the section of the road was closed to traffic and firefighters were called in to remove the tree.

The Reality

While I appreciate the need to ensure the safety of lives and property, I have seen trees being destroyed simply because of the convenience of a nearby residence.

For example, in the village where I live a tree that was estimated to have been 50-years-old, was destroyed simply because some of the branches were touching the upper floor windows. It could have been an easy matter to have trimmed the branches, but in their desire for selfish convenience, they called in a contractor and down came the tree.

This is happening all over the territory.

The Beauty we are Destroying

This tree offered a safe haven to some birds

This tree was partially destroyed but refused to give up
Lam Tsuen’s most famous Banyan, the Wishing Tree – an example of how right-minded people can save trees

More information on the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree may be found here.

This tree, which may be seen at the Old Taipo Police Station, is older than the building it shelters
…and the destruction

These trees, the oldest of which was around 20 years, were destroyed so that the owner of the property could extend his wall. He could have done so quite easily without the wanton destruction
Conclusion

I will never put the safety of people over that of a tree. Having said that, I wish people would think twice about taking a chain saw to something that was a sapling when we were still learning to walk!

Thank you for visiting Stewart Goes Walkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can contact us here:

 

 

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Allen’s Adventures in Europe – Part Three

Introduction

Stewart Goes Walkies is pleased to present the third part in Allen Lai’s excellent Adventures in Europe.

One Day Four Countries
Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm and Linderhof Palace
Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm (1845 – 1886)

The weather seems to be improving the temperature is still around 10 degrees in the morning. Today is all about the King of Bavaria, Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm (1845 – 1886).

From the hotel, a three hours drive took us to Linderhof Palace. Ludwig II became king of Bavaria at the age of 18. Two years later, Bavaria lost the war to Prussia and following that Ludwig increasingly withdrew from the day-to-day affairs of the state in favour of extravagant artistic and architectural projects. He commissioned the construction of lavish palaces: Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, and Herrenchiemsee. Behind the Baroque façade of Linderhof palace is a Rococo world with motifs from the age of Louis XV of France.

The rich and abundant ornamentation, with its many sculptural elements, is thus not merely an attempt at imitation, but far surpasses everything that inspired them, as well as showing workmanship of incomparable artistic quality. He spent most of his time in isolation, slept during the day, and played at night. His bedroom’s huge chandelier has 108 candles. I can’t help feeling sorry for the servant who had to climb up to light it and replace them. To avoid contact, even with his servants, he dined alone, and his dining table elevated from the kitchen below. His study was full of wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor mirrors. He did not have many self-portraits done, but he loved to check his mirrors.

Ludwig’s bed chamber with the magnificent chandelier
Ludwig’s study with the wall-to-wall mirrors
solitary dining arrangements

Ludwig spent all his own private royal revenues on these projects, borrowed extensively, and defied all attempts by his ministers to restrain him. This extravagance was used against him to declare him insane, an accusation that has since come under scrutiny. Ludwig was taken into custody and effectively deposed on 12 June 1886, and he and his doctor were found dead the following day. He was 40 years old. Their deaths were ruled to be suicide but this too has been disputed. In comparison, it’s a tiny palace, but the inside is so packed. He was a hoarder. On the contrary, the surrounding gardens are beautiful, especially the water fountain.

Linderhof palace with the water fountain, the water shoots up every half hour for a full two minutes.
Neuschwanstein Castle

An hour’s drive away is his Neuschwanstein Castle. Few places on Earth look more like storybook illustrations than Neuschwanstein Castle. With its towers, turrets, frescoes, and throne hall, Neuschwanstein looks like it was plucked straight from your favorite fairy tale.  Ludwig II died before the castle was completed.  Neuschwanstein is rumored to be the real-life inspiration for the castle in the Disney classic, “Cinderella,” released in 1950. The resemblance, after all, is striking.

The dream-like Neuschwanstein Castle

The area is kind of quiet when compared with my last visit. Many shops were not open. And tourists were far fewer. This time I ventured beyond the Queen Mary’s Bridge (Marienbrucke) and climbed up the cliff to a nice view of the castle and no tourists.

The castle from above Queen’s bridge
The front of the castle
An alpine lodge where we stopped for lunch
The original Swan castle opposite the Neuschwanstein Castle
Swan lake missing the swans
Making friends in Kempton

At night, we drove to Kempton and stayed at the bigBOX Hotel, a very nice boutique hotel. Before dinner, I walked across the road to the Forum Allgau Shopping mall to get some necessary supplies. There, I had a chance to play street piano together with some locals and made friends with a nine-year-old. We had a great time.

Forum Allgau Shopping mall at Kempton. I love Germany, they are selling bottles of wine cheaper than soda
Playing street piano inside the mall and making friends
Liechtenstein

The next day, we crossed the border to Austria, and visited one of the smallest countries in the world,  Liechtenstein, before reaching Switzerland. Liechtenstein is a western European principality located between Switzerland and Austria. Despite it being one of the smallest countries in Europe; it’s also one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The United States is Liechtenstein’s second-largest bilateral trading partner after Germany. Vaduz is the capital, with a population of just 5000, with two main streets lined with luxury brand shops.

With a population of 5,000 people, this is one of the two main streets, all high-priced and upmarket shops

The police force consists of 50 officers. We stopped for lunch and some shopping. Vaduz castle is high up on the hill. Interestingly though, for reasons unknown, regular Rolex watches were sold out!

At Vaduz with the beautiful alpines as a backdrop
The governor’s castle
Conclusions

Once again, Stewart Goes Walkies is very grateful to our old friend, Allen, for his wonderful photos and report. You may see parts one and two here and here.

We look forward to more reports on his travels.

Thank you for visiting Stewart Goes Walkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can contact us here:

 

 

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The New Territories Cycle Track – a Re-Cap

Introduction

As I am nearing my target of completing the New Territories Cycle Track (NTCT) I decided to do a re-cap of my progress to date.

A bit of history – When my son, James learned that I had completed routes between Fotan and Tai Po, and Fanling to Tai Po, he pointed out to me that these routes were actually sections of the NTCT. I did some research and mapped out what I had accomplished and what I still had to complete. I have presented the sections in their correct order, as opposed to when they were completed chronologically.

Ma On Shan to Fotan

You can take a look at this 11 kilometre section here.

Despite the fact that this route is mostly within the built-up areas of Ma On Shan, Shatin and Fotan it does have some nice sections that take you along the seafront and Shing Mun River.

The Route Map
Fotan in the distance
The Ma On Shan Park
Fotan to Tai Po

You can take a look at this 12 kilometre section here.

This section shares a part of the previous section in that there is the long and somewhat tedious section along the Shing Mun River that passes the Hong Kong Jockey Club. It is in this section where you might witness some amazing accidents where cyclists manage to fall off their bikes while traveling along a completely straight track.

The perfectly straight, tedious section along the Shing Mun River
The Tai Po Tai Wong Yeh Temple – I think the soft drink machine rather detracts from the ambiance
Fanling to Tai Wo (Tai Po)

You can take a look at this 9.7 kilometre section here.

This section makes for a pleasant outing. As I started at Fanling the beginning of the section does require some navigation until you come on the NTCT. However, it is easy to find and once you are on it the section makes for a nice walk that includes a few drink shops.

The route takes you through the Lam Tsuen Valley
A toy car graveyard – one of the more unusual things I have seen on my walks
Fanling to Sheung Shui

This was a short section that just had to be ‘filled-in’. I did it after work one Saturday afternoon.  It was just under 4 kilometres and can read about it here.

Some of the signage wasn’t terribly clear so I had to ask a passer-by for directions to Sheung Shui
Old abandoned property
Sheung Shui to Yuen Long

I have recently posted the story of this 17 kilometre section so I will not go into great detail here other than to provide the link for the report here, and the route map.

Yuen Long to Tuen Mun

Watch this space!

I intend to finish this final section as soon as possible.

Conclusion

So far I have walked 54 of the 60 kilometres of the New Territories Cycle Track. This does not include the traveling, mostly by foot, getting to and from the starts and finishes (upon arriving home after completing the Sheung Shui to Yuen Long section we found that we had actually completed 26 kilometres that day). It will be a moment of great satisfaction to complete the final stage. As mentioned above, watch this space!

Thank you for visiting Stewart Goes Walkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can contact us here:

 

 

Help us to make a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Dont buy drinking water in plastic bottles when its easy to bring it from home. Lets work together to save the planet.