A little exploring
On Tuesday I had a free day, so I decided to go exploring; heading up a mountain that had long been on my list of places to visit and stopping for lunch at my favourite beach.
Sharp Peak is the pointy one to the left of the picture. To reach it I ran along a nice forest trail before the final steep climb, scrambling over boulders. At the top, an elderly gentleman was making tea on a gas stove. He had a very fine porcelain tea set. Classy mountaineering.
The descent took me along the jagged ridge on the horizon, before bombing down the scree escarpment to the sea. Here there is a string of three lovely beaches (I think they’re the nicest in Hong Kong.) These beaches are only accessible on foot or by boat. The boat ride can get a bit hairy, the stretch of coast is aptly named Tai Long Wan; Big Wave Bay.
I was banking on getting lunch at the beach, but the little restaurant there was closed, so I had to head a little inland to a nearby village.
The route back to the road started out across this shonky bridge:
Anyway. Running as a mode of exploring is fine, but the previous weekend I headed to Plover Cove Country Park (a place I’ve raced through a couple of times) to do some slower-paced exploring of the area’s abandoned villages.
There are several such villages and an old British garrison in the area. They were once thriving farming and fishing communities, the largest had a population of around 2000. The whole area is pretty odd; an abandoned world within sight of Shenzhen container port, one of the busiest places on the planet.
When the Cultural Revolution ended and imports started crossing the border from mainland China in 1976, Hong Kong’s agriculture and fishing industries collapsed overnight. No-one saw the collapse coming; there are stacks of building materials that have been sitting untouched for 40 years in the shells of half-built houses. Some of the village houses look as if the owners simply walked out and never returned:
There are ghost stories about some of the villages. In one village, compasses stop working and supernatural happenings are rumoured to have driven out the last few residents.
Village elders still return and put up decorations for Chinese New Year, Mid Autumn Festival and other occasions. A couple of villages have had some restoration done and a few people have returned to live in the area on weekends, opening restaurants for hungry hikers.
I think I’ll do some urbex posts in the new year, perhaps I’ll start with a visit to Gin Drinkers Line; the wartime defensive line that catastrophically failed to defend Hong Kong in December 1941.