Fanling to Lam Tsuen

The full 8 Kilometre route which started at Exit B of the Fanling MTR Station which I did in the company of my son, James and my mate, David.

 Leaving home at 7:45, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. While I did see several elderly people and children on the hike, including one man who was recovering from a stroke and another gentleman walking barefoot, this route does call for a degree of fitness.

The start of the trail as seen from Exit B of the Fanling MTR Station (immediately across the road), and setting off. It starts off deceptively and almost immediately turns into a steep 45 degree struggle.

 Very soon the path levels out, leading to a false sense of security. However, soon it is climbing again and this was to be the routine for the remainder of the hike. The first section was the Wu Tip Shan Trail

James lead for most of the hike and as a result almost all of the pictures I have of him are from this angle.

An abandoned restaurant along the trail. I can only assume that the food must have been fantastic for people to have hiked all the way up here to get to it.

 Taking a rest before starting the Wu Tip Shan Trail.

 

The start of the ‘dreaded’ steps.

I estimate that a good 85 percent of the trail was either ascending or descending stairs. And, as you will see, steps, some of which were very steep.

 

 

We arrived at the top of these steps and rested before starting the next part of the trail. The Tai To Yan section.

 

 

As usual, James lead the way.

 

On the Tai To Yan Section

This section was gruelling and soon the concrete path gave way to a dirt track with a long series of steep wooden steps, some of which were angled at 45 degrees.

 

The signpost, Lam Tsuen 4K to go, and having a well-earned rest and premature celebration.

The short section that followed was by far the most beautiful part of the hike. We found ourselves in a Bamboo Grove before the path followed the course of a small stream almost all the way to the next section.

This was the most enjoyable part of the hike and it took us on to the final section, the Ngau Kwu Leng Hiking Trail

The Ngau Kwu Leng Hiking Trail is all on concrete path and in places is very steep. It would probably be difficult, if not dangerous when wet.

 

 

 

 

 It was a relief to get to the end of the trail and James, who had lead us most of the way carried on across the bridge which took us over the Lam Tsuen River towards the Wishing Tree and the first of many cold beers.

The government advisory on this hike is that it requires a degree of physical fitness. This is certainly true. Also, you need to take plenty of water as there is only one or two streams along the way and they are getting on towards the end. And you would need a filtration device for safety. I took 3 Litres of fresh water in my CamelBak and when I used it up David very kindly shared some of his with me. Sturdy hiking shoes are a must and I could not have done without my hiking pole. In fact, if I’d had more experience with hiking poles I would have brought both of them and now rarely do a hike without them unless I know it will be an easy trail.

It took us five hours but a fit person could do it in less. If you are considering this hike do some research into the topography. (Which I failed to do).

Finally, my thanks to James and David for watching out for me and making the day a successful, if exhausting one.

Be safe and enjoy.

San Tsuen to the Wishing Tree

This is a pleasant walk along a mostly flat path that follows the Lam Tsuen River. To get to the start of the walk take the 64K KMB bus from the Tai Po bus terminus, or you can pick it up at Tai Wo. San Tsuen is one of the regular stops. Alternatively, you can take the 24K Green Minibus from Tai Wo and ask the driver for the San Tsuen stop.

Shortly after the bus stop you will find traffic lights and a crossing. Cross the road and turn left and very shortly you come to the start of the walk.

The start of the walk. Continue down this path and within a few steps you are surrounded by greenery and the traffic noises from Lam Kam Road fade away.

Along this section of the path you will find commercial gardens selling flowers and a new addition is this organic garden. It is so nice, in a place like Hong Kong where every vacant piece of land is sold for development to see people making an effort to contribute to the environment

The path continues and within a few steps you come to the Lam Tsuen River. The following pictures show scenes along the walk

It is sad that in this day and age people have to be reminded of this.

A breakwater to reduce damage to the river banks during flooding

A farm on the opposite side of the river. Shortly after this a path leads off to the right. It is a bit steep but not very long and it takes you up to the Wishing Tree,

 

Entering the Wishing Tree area. There are some restaurants which serve hot and cold drinks and food. You can relax and enjoy the hospitality before starting home.

The original Wishing Tree, sadly it has to be propped up to prevent is falling over.

Finally you are at the entrance to Fong Ma Po/Wishing Tree and the end of the walk. When leaving the village you come out onto Lam Kam Kung Road and there is a KMB bus stop just to your right where you can pick up a bus or minibus to take you back to the Tai Wo MTR.

I hope you enjoy the walk. Please send me any comments you might have.

Mt. Kinabalu – August, 1979

During the last week of August, 1979, I climbed Mt. Kinabalu (13, 435ft) in Sabah, East Malaysia.

Today, climbing the mountain involves traveling to the national park headquarters in a private limo or tourist coach along a modern three-lane highway. In 1979, getting to the national park involved standing on the road side at a certain junction in Kota Kinabalu and waiting for a trader to go past in a long-wheelbase Land Rover. The drivers were accustomed to tourists hitching rides up to the park headquarters. However, it wasn’t free and I had to cough up US$8.00 for the pleasure of sitting in the back, surrounded by bags, boxes and livestock. I teamed up with four other climbers, two Austrian ski instructors, a German and an Australian, who turned out to be a vegetarian. The ‘highway’ in those days was a dirt track.

We spent the night at the park where we paid for the climbing permit and shared the cost of the mandatory guide and porter. The following morning we hired another land rover to drive us the short distance to the start of the climb. 

 I keep referring to the ascent as ‘the climb.’ It was in fact, a long hard slog up a series of steps cut into the hillside and reinforced with wood, that followed one ridge after another to our destination for that day, the first of a series of huts at 10,000 feet. It took all day and at the time it was the hardest thing I had every done in my life.

That night over the wood stove the Australian introduced us to a meal I have never forgotten, and eaten many times since. Baked beans and tomato slices fried in tinned butter. We christened it Beans ala Kinabalu.

The following morning at 3 a.m. we set out for the summit, which we reached four hours later at 7 a.m.

 

Sadly, all but one of the photos I took on the summit have been lost to the sands of time. This is me on the summit. I still had hair and all of my teeth. 

Sitting there on the summit we watched the clouds rolling in from below like a surf coming in from the sea. It was amazing to watch. It was important that we got back to the hut before the clouds obliterated the path altogether. Generally speaking, it was a well marked path but there were areas where there were gaps and it wasn’t unheard of for climbers to occasionally go missing.

Going down was far easier that going up, initially. But after a few miles Sahib’s Knee kicked in and made every downward step torture. Sahib’s Knee is a repetitive stress disorder (RSI). It is caused by the continuous pounding of the knee cartilage as you descend steep paths or steps. It can be prevented with a bit of training and I would advise anyone attempting this, or similar climbs to look into it.

After a few hours though, we reached the road that lead us back to the national park headquarters and a warm shower and hot meal. I was exhausted, but proud of my accomplishment. We spent that night at the national park before heading back to Kota Kinabalu the following day in another trading Land Rover that dropped us off right across the road from where they first one had pick us up a few days before. 

(Today there are numerous packages available from outfits that will arrange hotels in Kota Kinabalu, transportation to and from the national park and a guided tour up to the mountain huts and summit).