What better way to spend a Tuesday off work thanks to the Chung Yeung Festival than to hike through Sai Kung East in search of the “deserted beaches” everyone talks about!?
Now, not only was the hike to get to these deserted beaches long, the journey to actually get to the beginning of the MacLehose Trail was a nightmare. Let’s start from the beginning..
We left quite a bit later than we should have, given that it was a holiday; clearly not off to the best start. By the time we packed our bags and left our door, it was around 10:30am. We had to take the MTR to Hang Hau Station, which took about 20 minutes. Once we made it to Hang Hau Station, we had to hop on a Public Light Bus (a small van-esque form of public transportation where the drivers most definitely do not follow the speed limit) to the main bus station in Sai Kung. This was about a 30 or so minute journey.
We clearly did not plan out our route to get to the beginning of the trail very well; we had no idea where we were going once we got off the bus. All we knew was that we needed to hop onto another Public Light Bus to take us to the MacLehose Trail. After getting directions on three separate occasions and wandering around for the better part of half an hour, we were mortified when at last we found the bus stop.. There were probably seventy people waiting in line for the bus. Grrrreat. Thankfully the bus line went relatively fast – we only waited for about half an hour.
After another twenty minutes we finally arrived at the starting point of the MacLehose Trail. The hike was a bit difficult, especially given the temperature, but the view was fantastic – clear, blue water, plenty of outlying island, and lush greenery surrounding us. The hiking path we were on could, if you wanted, take you all the way around Sai Kung. This would be about a 10+ hour hike, so we only planned on doing part of it. Our plan was to make it to an almost secluded beach in Tai Long Wan. We hiked past two other beaches, through one village (Sai Wan Village), across a “bridge” that was clearly violating multiple safety bylaws, and past a delicious restaurant before we finally made it to our stopping point: Tai Wan Beach.
We shared the beautiful, serene beach with maybe ten other people. Apparently, if you go on a non-holiday day you are often the only occupants on the beach. Being there was surreal; a little slice of paradise. The difficult hike, sweat, and time were well worth it.
After spending the remainder of the day soaking up the sun and catching some waves (which were massive!), we made our way back to the previous beach – Ham Tin Wan – to catch a boat taxi back to Sai Kung Town where the bus terminal is. Now, this is the part of my adventure where things most definitely do not go as planned. It’s about 5pm and we are on the beach waiting for the boats to come back and pull into shore so we can go home. We are sore, hungry, and exhausted at this point. Finally, three yellow taxi boats (did I mention that apparently these boats are illegal) came.
As we walked to the water, we saw people around us pulling out tickets. Apparently, we had to buy a ticket ahead of time for a specific time slot. Well, as our luck would have it, all the timeslots were completely full except for the last one at 7:30pm. Needless to say, we were not impressed. To make the best out of a shitty situation, we went to the little restaurant up on the shore and across the rickety bridge to settle our stomachs. Plus – the food was beyond delicious. Mouth watering beauty. Minus – it was getting dark. And when it gets dark out, it usually gets cold too. We had no warm clothing and our towels were still wet. This could only mean one thing; be miserable until these boats arrived. We ended up walking onto the beach and huddled behind an abandoned boat to shield ourselves from the wind. We really did try to make the best of a bad situation, but when the boats were about a half hour late, we had had enough.
8pm. Taxi boats arrive. Waves are massive. Takes about fifteen minutes for the drivers to come into shore. Begin to question how in the world I am going to climb aboard when it is moving all over the place. Water all over the boat. These are not good signs, but were a good indication of how the boat ride back was going to be. If you hate rollercoasters or became seasick easy, you would have cried the entire ride home. We were crashing into massive ways; the boat would fly into the air, tossing everyone up and out of their seats, and then come crashing down. All the while, water was spraying into the boat, soaking all of us (though if you were on an outside seat, you were hating your life even more).
Most people would be furious at this point. Us, on the other hand, couldn’t do anything but laugh. Hysterically. This wild boat ride just made our previous complaints seem null. Now, we were jokingly questioning whether we would even make it off the boat. After a hilarious but, eventually, excrutiating forty minutes, we made it to Sai Kung Town. Freezing and tired, we found a bus to take us back to the MTR station. At about 11pm, we arrived home. Thankfully in one piece.
Want to know more about Sai Kung? Check this out: http://www.hongkongextras.com/_sai_kung.html