Walk from Shek Mun Kap to Po Lin Monastery
No originality at all on my part, this one is lifted from Pete Spurrier’s Leisurely Hikers Guide – however, since re-reading “Gwei Lo” by Martin Booth as part of a Batgung/Gwulo location mapping project I have also realised that this walk was, possibly, the same one done by Booth and his family in the book. The difference is that, in 1953, I suspect they had harder time of it and they got to spend a night at the monastery.
Booth starts his walk from Tung Chung, then a small fishing village, via Ma Wan Chung. Pete Spurrier’s starts off by catching the bus from Tung Chung (now, thanks to the airport, a busy but frankly sterile new town with an abundance of public transport connections all over Lantau). So we hop on the #34 minibus and take it up to Shek Mun Kap – hard to miss because it is the terminus.
Shek Mun Kap is a small village about a third of the way up the slopes of what becomes Lantau Peak, so the bus journey means that this walk can easily be done in just a couple of hours. One word of warning for arachnophobes, you see some pretty large orb spiders on this trail and one dropped down right in front of my daughter’s face at one point, thankfully she isn’t scared of them (whereas I, a grown 37 year old man, nearly filled my pants!!).
Spurrier recommends popping into the village shop for drink and mentions the old fellow inside trying to sell you beer depending on your age. Sure enough, as soon as I show an interest in the bottled water in the drinks fridge, the old fellow is over asking me if I want beer as well!
So we set off up the hill and it isn’t long before you come across the first point of interest is the Lo Hon Monastery. Hikers guide says take the path marked by a blue character ‘faat’ which means Buddha. Unfortunately it must be a while since the book was written because the character has faded and is hard to see. Thankfully the path is fairly obvious and it follows a wall around to the right hand side.
From here on it is just wilderness interspersed with some impressive views over Tung Chung bay to the airport. The trail leads uphill all the way so don’t think that it is easy. Along the way it comes close to a stream which has various collection points where you can cool down your feet, but it is hot and sweaty work.
The next grouping of buildings is around Tei Tong Tsai which has several old monasteries and private buildings around which the jungle has provided some natural camouflage. One of the best places to stop is in front of a Buddhist compound with a nice tree in front of the pai-lau. The place is called “Sup Fong Do Yik” which roughly translates as “Ten Square Ways”. I am not a Buddhist so have no idea of the significance of the name but it is an active temple and whilst we were there we could hear the afternoon prayers going on in the main temple building. Unfortunately there is a no photo sign up, so I had to settle for just a picture of the gate and the view. When you start off on the walk again you walk through the well-tended gardens of the compound and get a feel for how big the place is. Strange to think it is hidden away half way up Lantau Peak. Very peaceful.
Then another funny thing happened. There is a picture in the Leisurely guide of two nuns walking down the hill. So what happened next? Yep, two nuns came walking down the hill and stopped to say hello and give my kids presents. My daughter (impressing them with her fluent Cantonese) received some prayer beads and my son had to content himself with some Buddhist VCDs! It brought a smile to the nuns faces anyway and they disappeared down the hill, turning back every so often to wave goodbye.
It’s not long after this that you come to a pavilion for a quick rest and further up the hill is a stone pai-lau, which I am quite certain is the same one encountered by Martin Booth when he did this walk. But who knows? It certainly looks old enough. By the time you are here you are almost finished the slope has flattened out because you are now walking alongside the western flank of Lantau peak (this is the second highest peak in Hong Kong after Tai Mo Shan) towards the plateau that houses Po Lin and the great Buddha.
This entry was posted on September 3, 2009 at 11:16 pm and is filed under Outlying Islands with tags Buddha, Lantau, Monastery, pai lau, Pavilion, Po Lin, Taoist, Temple, Tung Chung, walks. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.