This cosmopolitan city of 7 million, located at the southern tip of China, is widely famed by its concrete jungle of modern skyscrapers and the dazzling shore of the Victoria Harbour. Yet alongside such landmark allure, in fact, Hong Kong is also long graced by the chains of emerald hills, especially the Lantau Peak, which is the second highest mountain in the territory.
Our trail began with a gentle incline at Pak Kung Au in midnight, with its zigzagging way up to the 934-metre top. Midnight fell like a veil of inky black, and the sky grew darker into deeper shades of night that engulfed the city. Yet the hike appeared to be progressively more strenuous, as the incline gradually increased to almost a vertical climb all the way. Exhausted already, we still had to surmount such challenging walk and haul ourselves for an hour up on the knee-high steps of the stone ladder when my T-shirt was already soaked with sweat.
Formidable though the vigorous uphill sections might seem, the night hike was still more exhilarating than in daytime with our torch beams. It was more private when I could let my soul run free without worries and embrace the wildness of nature, and more magical when the radiance of moonlight guided us in the invading darkness. The ocean nearby was like an abyss of black, but glistening with small sparks of the city lights from the Airport and the residential blocks in Tung Chung.
We finally reached to the top after three hours of trek. After several minutes of waiting, the sky in the opposite direction was still dark, but gradually turned with a mixture of amber and orange on the horizon. As the sun slowly ascended, I marvelled at the first slither of the golden orb peeking over, watching it rise like a big ball of fire changing from dark orange to brilliant gold over the calm sea.
Watching the clouded sky, I felt my mood uplifted at that particular dreamy moment, so stunning that the scenery invited me to stare deep into the far horizon. The shining sun awakened the sky with rosy colours and splashed the clouds with endless rays of pink. We lost in the awe of everything in this serene beauty. Everyone was too busy to take their camera out to capture this sheer wonder, and lifted their eyes to savour the shimmering sun at the crack of dawn.
“How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle
After an hour of relaxation, we carefully made our way down the slopes of the vertical cliff-sides, which at the same time offered panoramic views over several outlying islands and the eastern part of Lantau Island. To catch up with others’ regular pace and not to lose my balance, I kept staying watchful at each sharp cobble and large boulder on the stairs, as the only way down to Ngong Ping. Yet to our relief, the more we trekked despite our exhaustion, the nearer we spotted the statue of the Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery and the wooden planks of the Wisdom Path in a far lower hill, which reminded us our hike nearly came to an end.
Sometimes one does not need to fly for hours to other countries in hope of discovering the wonder of nature havens, but only just to grasp a pair of sport shoes, step out from our cosy zone and take a look outside of our home city. This hiking adventure is one of the most demanding ones I have ever done in Hong Kong, but surely the most rewarding one. ♦
How to get to the starting point of the Lantau Peak (Pak Kung Au)?
- Arrive at MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B. From the bus terminus next to the MTR station, take bus 3M and get off at Pak Kung Au
- Arrive at MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B and take a taxi