Camping in Tai Long Wan

Trip Start Feb 07, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Now that the torrential rains have ceased for a bit in Hong Kong, we seized the opportunity to unpack our tent for the first time this year. July 1st marks Establishment Day in Hong Kong, which is when the British handed back Hong Kong to China back in 1997. Ironically, it's the same time period as our American Independence Day, but it represents quite the opposite of freedom day here in HK...

Unquestionably the most scenic spot in Hong Kong is Tai Long Wan, or Big Wave Bay in English. This area on the Eastern shore of New Territories is comprised of 3 beaches, each a scenic jewel that you'd swear was part of the Thailand coast for its blue waters and verdant green cliffs. It's even more special because of its remote locale; to arrive, you must take at least 2 lines on the subway, a minibus, taxi, and hike. We opted to camp on the Southernmost beach, Sai Wan, since it's the shortest distance to hike into. The best choice for arriving at this spot is taking minibus 1A from Choi Hung MTR station on the green line. Once you arrive in Sai Kung, take a taxi up to Sai Wan and you'll see the entry to the 45 minute trail. It's completely paved and fairly easy walking.

Once we got to the beach, we pitched our tent on the entry to the rock pools. Just when we thought we had the beach all to ourselves, a troupe of 30+ youngsters came up on the beach with their LED headlamps. Throughout the night, in fact, they came in droves, with their rolling back packs and supersonic lights. We passed a wonderful night on the beach, with the waves, the squid boats in the horizon, and a fresh water supply flowing right into the ocean, perfect for washing up before bed. Unfortunately we had company in the tent with a pack of mosquitoes, but these are the natural consequences of camping. One of the more pleasant consequences, on the other hand, are the rises - in our case, both the moon and sunrise. While we were enjoying our wine, merrily cooking up our mac and cheese, we both saw a bright orange dot on the horizons between the last squid fishing boat and the cliff on the horizon. Slowly, but powerfully, the moon made its presence known, and it was an awesome sight. The next morning's sunrise did not fail to disappoint, either.

The following day we visited the rock pools and waterfalls, a fresh water haven that you have to wade through water and clamber over rocks to visit. From here you can do a 10 meter cliff jump into a sweet, cool swimming hole. Around midday we hiked over to the next beach, Ham Tin (lovingly referred to as the Hamptons). The hike goes around the cliff and takes about 45 minutes, though not recommended during peak sunshine! This beach rents tents and camping equipment and has by far the best restaurant, Hoi Fung cafe. Their salt and pepper squid is to die for - trust me. Best of all, from either this beach or Sai Wan, you can call for a $100HKD speedboat back to Sai Kung, since hiking back after a relaxing day at the beach is hardly what you'll desire. The trip back offers panoramic views of the Sai Kung peninsula and outlying islands as well.

Happy camping - and don't forget your umbrella for all that sunshine - the Chinese wouldn't be caught without it while hiking ; )
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