Hong Kong is full of surprises at every street corner. But when you need a break from the city, there is nothing quite like a hike for getting away and taking advantage of the incredible national parks, isolated beaches and spectacular views of the city skyline and Lantau Island is a case in point!
Now, I’m not a particularly competitive person. But once in a while, I like to challenge myself to a difficult hike to make sure my legs work properly. So when I heard about this “really hard” waterfall hike that my co-workers did last year, where wading through a raging river was involved, I decided to put together my own motley crew to trek up a seven hour, upstream- scrambling, rock- climbing, bushwalking, 16- kilometre hike on Lantau Island.
After taking the MTR to Tung Chung station, we headed off on a half hour walk to the start of the Wong Lung Hang Stream trail. Luckily, it hadn’t rained recently on Lantau Island and the “raging river” we were bracing ourselves for turned out to be more of a steady stream that day. Nonetheless, wading through the water was still on the agenda until we discovered a way to avoid the water completely by scrambling onto some large rocks. Yes, we’re all a bunch of city folk pansies.
At around noon, we reached the climax of the hike. However, the lack of rain had brought a downside – the beautiful, gushing waterfall we’d hoped to see had become more of a quiet trickle down a stone wall. However, we weren’t dissuaded by this minor setback and managed to squeeze in a refreshing dip in the watering hole after a indulging ourselves with delightfully smooooshed Pret-A-Manger sandwiches.
After another half hour or so of even more scrambling, we arrived at an area called the Three Dragon Gap, which looked like a cross between a set from Lord Of The Rings meets China’s Three Gorges. There is a Left and Right Dragon Waterfall, and the Dragon Tail Waterfall marked the end of the trail.
At this point, we had two choices. We could either scramble our way back down the stream to Tung Chung like soft city folk or venture up the mountain like true adventurers. Of course, we chose the latter.
We started our way through the unmarked trail along the side of the mountains, desperately trying to follow the colored ribbons that adorned the scraggly trees to mark our way. I was so excited by a particular red ribbon that had “Indonesian Lady Hikers” written on it, that I managed to persuade the group to continue in that direction, only to be set off course. The silver lining was that we came across a hidden ledge above Left Dragon Falls, and we had some stellar Instagram-worthy views. However, the unmarked trail quickly led us to a set of dangling ropes hanging off a vertical cliff. It was too late to turn back at this point so we could only pray that the ropes were safe enough to hold us.
The next hour and a half after the rope climbing turned out to be the most gruelling ascent up a pile of bushes I had ever set foot on. We literally had to claw our way up and bush whack through shrubs, not to mention the scorching heat at this time of day.
The top of the mountain was where our improvised trail finally merged with the official Lantau Trail, where we admired the panoramic views whilst we sweated profusely and caught our breaths. Surprisingly, we managed to drag our limp bodies back down the mountain towards Nam Shan, hopped onto a minibus that finished the last 3 kilometres towards Mui Wo and got our sore asses onto a ferry back to Central.
As I sat there on the ferry with my underwear stuck to my ass and smelling like a wet dog, a sense of pride washed over me. We had conquered Lantau Island by climbing several steep cliffs and experienced an entirely different side of Hong Kong I’d never imagined could exist. From then on, I had earned legit bragging rights.
Writer: Jillian Fu
Photographer: Jillian Fu