Hong Kong: Beach Hopping in Sai Wan

Life’s been a bit more hectic recently, hence the lack of updates on the blog (though procrastination has come in the form of sprucing the site up and giving it a new look). I actually have to knuckle down and study for my degree (can you imagine?!). However, the allure of one of Hong Kong’s most famous hikes was too much for me to resist and, after having stayed in to study for the past few weekends, I decided to give myself a midweek treat by having a study-free Wednesday and heading to Sai Wan.

I’d wanted to do the famous Maclehose Trail for a while, particularly Section 2 which is the most scenic. However, Section 2 isn’t the most accessible and combining both Sections 1 and 2 would mean hiking for around 8 hours which, whilst feasible, wasn’t ideal considering the hike begins in the New Territories and takes a while to get to. I didn’t want a repeat of Dragon’s Back where I was hiking in pitch darkness.

As a result, I decided to compromise and follow this route, starting just after the beginning of Maclehose Section 2 at Sai Wan Pavillion. I’d still get to hike for about 8km or so and it was much easier to get to. Considering it’s a popular spot, Sai Wan is a real faff to get to. You have to get the MTR to Diamond Hill, then get bus 92 to Sai Kung Police Station then, from outside the McDonalds on Chan Man Street (which is just across the road from the Police Station stop), you take a minibus to the pavillion (where it terminates). The whole journey to the beginning of the hike takes 2 – 2.5 hours from Central so it pays to start early.

Even more stressful for me was the fact that, during the week, the minibus from Chan Man Street only leaves a couple of times a day. The one I was aiming for was 11.30am and, if I missed that one, there wasn’t another until 15.30. They’re much more frequent at weekends apparently. Of course, Hong Kong was also gridlocked this day and, thanks to the slowest ‘express’ bus in history, I didn’t get to Diamond Hill until later than I expected. I managed to make up some time and the 92 was quicker than expected (about 40 minutes without traffic) so I got there with time to spare. At least I could have just pigged out in Maccies had I not made it.

DSC_0250

This hike is lauded as being one of the most scenic in Hong Kong and, after setting off from the pavillion, it wasn’t hard to see why. Vistas like the one above were commonplace throughout the walk. It wasn’t particularly strenuous either, meaning I could actually relax and just soak in the stunning views. It was a reasonably clear day with blue skies and, whilst that meant I was pretty hot and sweaty, it also ensured I got the very best views.

The other thing Maclehose Section 2 is notorious for is its beaches. Forget Thailand, if you want some serious beach-hopping, Hong Kong is the place to do it. Secluded beaches ran all the way along the walk, with some completely deserted but still kept in good condition. It was a great feeling having to get up and leave one beach, knowing full well that you’d be reaching another one in half an hour or so. I imagine they get busier at weekends but during the week, even the bigger ones such as Ham Tin Wan Beach were almost completely deserted, making it a perfect picnic spot.

I’ve never been a massive beach person but there was something incredibly soothing about sitting back on a beach all to myself and watching the waves hit the sand whilst the sun bore down on me – in November of all months! My last couple of hikes have ranged from strenuous to death-defying so to have one which was genuinely relaxing made for a nice change. I could have stayed on any one of those beaches for a very, very long time.

Hong Kong or Hawaii?
Hong Kong or Hawaii?

After Ham Tin Wan Beach, there was about another 2 hours of hiking to go and, whilst the second half is a bit less scenic, there are still some nice moments and an opportunity for some cow interaction, which is always nice. Plus, there aren’t many hikes where you’ve got memories of relaxing on golden sands fresh in your memory. Even better was the fact the hike finished on the main road that the bus back took (just turn left when you finish section 2 or, if you’re brave, cross the road to continue with section 3). You can get the 94 back to Sai Kung then the 92 to Diamond Hill. The 94 stops every half an hour so you might have to wait a little bit.

It was definitely the most relaxed I’d felt after a hike. I didn’t quite have the same feeling of accomplishment I’d had when I’d completed other hikes, but in a week of asessments and presentations, the scenic hike was just what I needed.

Plus, as I waited for the bus, I saw a Scottish man arguing with his neighbour about wheelie bins. Perhaps Hong Kong isn’t so different to home after all…

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