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Tung Lung Chau

One of the factors that makes Hong Kong such a great place to live is the accessibility of wild countryside, islands, beaches and a way of life that takes you back to a much simpler world free of Pokemons.

Yesterday I took the ferry from Sai Wan Ho on Hong Kong island to Sam Ka Tsuen on Kowloon side and then immediately got on the 9am ferry to Tung Lung Chau. Contrary to the transport department's website which indicates there is a return ferry at 2pm the earliest return was at 3.40pm, which was to be a problem later in the day.

The 30 minute ferry ride through the eastern part of HK harbour is interesting as most of the ferry routes head west. Starting from Lei Yue Mun, past Tsueng Kwan O and onto the Clearwater Bay peninsula. I had not realised how big Tung Lung island was, basically a mountain with a path round the coast.

Although the major paths are well kept Tung Lung does not provide the facilities to be found on other islands in Hong Kong, such as toilets but there are a few places to eat. Not having had breakfast I thought a nourishing bowl of noodles would set me up for the day as there was a lot of time to fill. Climbing the steps from the pier I came across a restaurant that was just opening up, went inside and took a seat. A little old lady of indeterminate age but bent double was in charge of getting the place ready for business and shuffled painfully from table to table putting out chopsticks, menus, etc. I felt obliged to help and so found myself setting the tables myself. The view through the trees to HK island and the sound of birds made for a pleasant environment to catch up with the day's Sudoku problem.

Nice though the environment the old lady didn't seem to be terribly interested in taking my order but eventually things began to happen and it was worth waiting for. I then headed north to the site of Tung Lung fort. Similar to Roman remains it consisted of a series of low walls.

Tung Lung fort

Nearby is an information centre in a nicely renovated cottage but without an aircon 2 mnutes was about as much as I could take before having to outside to cool off. I mentioned that public toilets are not a major feature of the island but there is a toliet at the fort to service the campsite. While it may be one of the cleaner toilets in HK it requires a strong stomach consisting of a hole and a short drop. Nearby is the island's north pier with a pretty beach looking across to the Clearwater Bay peninsula.

beach

I retraced my steps, wondering whether I should try climbing to the top of the hill but didn't see a clear path and being a very hot day thought better of it and went in search of Tung Lung's rock carvings. I've been to rock carvings before but clearly hadn't learnt my lesson. A flight of steps led down to the carvings, which always seem to be just above sea level but my starting point was well above that. I counted 478 steps but may well have been a few out. The rock carvings were much the same as others I have seen. Great that HK wants to preserve a bit of history having knocked down so much of it but rock carvings don't figure high on my list of things I must see before I die. Each of the 478 steps climbing back up reinforced my view that, in future, signposts to rock carvings should be ignored.

Now I consider myself to be reasonably fit but time spent in the gym and thrashing out the metres on the treadmill is no preparation for climbing in temperatures around 33+ when the sun was out and unbearably humid when it isn't. Progress back up the steps was slow and by the time I reached the top I was exhausted and staggered back to the restaurant by the pier and settled down to rest and replenish a few liquids. The time was around 12.30 and I had had enough and would happily have gone home to sleep off the morning's excesses. Unfortunately, I still had more than 3 hours to wait for the ferry. Having exhausted myself on the rock carving steps further exploration of the island was out of the question for fear of dying so I idled my time away around the restaurant and the beach.

Sitting on a rock on the beach I was suddenly aware of movement to my left and looked down to see a brief but brutal struggle between a large solitary wasp and a small crab. It was over very quickly with the little crab standing no chance and soon it lay paralysed. I wondered what would happen next as this would not be a good place for the wasp to hatch out its eggs as we were below the hide tide mark. After resting for a few minutes the wasp burst into action. Bear in mind that the wasp was considerably smaller than the crab I was amazed to see it take a firm grasp on the crab and then drag it at high speed back up the beach, over rocks and across the sand until it eventually disappeared into some large dark rocks having traversed four or five metres. Hard to imagine the amount of energy required to drag the crab that distance but clearly the wasp worked out. While the incident only lasted a few minutes it was a good reminder of how much life goes on around us without us realising and that most of it survives without the use of technology.

As the time neared for the arrival of the ferry a large crowd built up, one gentleman carrying a huge fish which had all the cameras snapping away but I never saw what happened to it. No idea where all the people appeared from as I saw very few where I walked so maybe I missed the most interesting bits. Maybe another visit is required but not for a while.