Today I had booked another tour, which I would have cancelled after the experience of the tour yesterday. However, this particular tour had been recommended to me by a family member that lives in Hong Kong. So I had some level of comfort that it would have some value.
The Land Between Tour
The tour leaves the city behind and heads into an area known as the New Territories. The idea is to see the real Hong Kong, that there is more to the area than just Skyscrapers. Having completed the tour now, it is a total black & white difference between the tour around the city and this tour. Yesterday almost the whole tour was trying to sell something, while today there was not one sales pitch.
Yuen Yuen Institute
The temple complex at the Yuen Yuen Institute is dedicated to the three most prominent religions in Hong Kong. These religions are Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. The area the temple is located in is a rather beautiful area. However, the temple while surrounded by green is still rather close to the city. But when you consider the area of the country (2,755 km2) and population (7.3 million people) the city is never far away.
You might be able to see the city from here, but you cannot hear it. The peace and quiet here are incredible compared to the noise of the city when we boarded the bus not 30 minutes earlier.
Tai Mo Shan Lookout
After departing the temple, the tour made a stop at a lookout on the slopes of Hong Kong’s Highest Peak. Tai Mo Shan stands at a height of 957m above sea level, with the lookout around 800m above sea level.
The view from here looks out over the town of Tsuen Wan, which you can make out through the haze. If you were to strain your eyes, you could almost see some of the buildings in Kowloon. Or maybe we were just hoping we could.
The next stop was Fanling Village, which is a walled village that is almost 400 years old. Until recently the village only had one entrance (pictured below) at the front of the village. The entrance had the ability to be secure, restricting access to the entire village.
The houses and buildings within the village are built rather tightly together as you can see in the image below.
Luk Keng Road
There was a roadside stop on the road named Luk Keng Road. Before arriving here, we had passed reasonably close to the border between China and Hong Kong. From this roadside stop, we were able to see some things. The first is an island which at the right time of year is a place where many birds next. Second is the green hills around this more open countryside.
Also from here, it was possible for the guide to point out specific places across the Chinese Border. So this is technically the closest I have been to China at this point. Who knows I will likely visit China at some time in the future.
Bride’s Pool Falls
Before the tour today most of my impression of what I would expect to see in Hong Kong was the city. I had not even considered that I might get to see waterfalls. Bride’s Pool Falls is a series of pools and waterfalls and is just a beautiful place to walk around just off the road. While some of the trees are different, I feel almost like I could be standing in Australia in the photo below.
Floating Fishing Village
The final stop on the tour before lunch was at a lookout to see a small floating fishing village. The residents of this village though don’t just catch the fish they breed them in submerged cages below the village. The area looks nice and calm today, but some of the village has had damage from typhoons recently. Unfortunately, the village could have a limited life span with development looking to encroach. The area here is earmarked for a marina, which will be attached to a nearby high-end residential development.
Included with the tour is a traditional Chinese lunch at a local restaurant. The lunch was served banquet style with six main dishes with rice as an accompaniment, and seasonal fruit at the end. The tour guide explained that this might be a little different to meals you might get elsewhere. Everything was cooked int he traditional way that locals eat, and there was no changes or enhancement to suit western expectations. The fact is emphasised through the restaurant being substantial in size with what seemed to be hundreds of locals also eating lunch.
The tour today was a rather eye opening experience, and something I would recommend any visitor to Hong Kong does. You very much get a different insight into that Hong Kong is more than just a city.
To finish off the day I did some walking around a shopping area near to the hotel. The centre is called Harbour City and covers almost 2 million square feet of space. There are some 700 shops, including 50 restaurants, two cinema complexes and is connected to three hotels. The experience is entirely different with a mixture of high-end brand names alongside small unique one-off stores.
Overall today has been one of the highlights of my trip, which is almost coming to an end.