Hong Kong….shimmer, shopping, the confrontational boxy structures in ‘I am taller than you mode’ but flip through the images there is another side, unadorned and unperturbed.
Ng Tung Chai waterfalls: Scrunched in by bare rocks and tropical vegetation of the northern slopes of Tai Mo Shan mountain is the Ng Tung Chai waterfalls. The cone-shaped Tai Mo Shan at 957 m. dominates the Kowloon landscape, bare and intimidating from a distance but for an intrepid hiker a known canvas.
The Ng Tung Chai trail is not exactly for beginners but certainly falls in the assessable hikes category, reachable with least effort. The paved pathway through the Man Tak Yuen gateway up to the Monastery is slightly deceptive and we begin to enjoy the solitude of the foresty-ambience punctuated by bird calls and the gurgling sound of hidden streams.
The mini waterfall near the Monastery is a numbing prelude to the tough climb ahead with the structured path giving way to meandering, slippery stone and gravel steps flanked on one side by moss and lichen sprayed grassy slopes and a sheer drop on the other. At some places the path is just two feet wide and any slip and you are at the mercy of branches and roots. It is humid, early June, and we continue to trudge along fortified by sips of water, pecans, dried cranberries and wafts of leafy breeze.
Finally there is some signage to show that we are close to our destination; the three Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls – the Bottom falls, the Middle and the Main Falls. The fourth fall, the Scattered Falls, was at one time linked to the Main fall but a landslide had cut off the link , though one can still hike to it.
We followed the Middle Fall route, bypassing the steps leading down for the Bottom Falls, and another twenty minutes strenuous climb rewarded us with a view of water cascading 50 ft down the cliff-face into an amphitheater of boulders. This is the Middle Fall or the “Horse Tail Fall” collecting into a mini pool to disappear into the gorge down below.
Tiredness forgotten it was off with our shoes and into the freezing water, few steps at a time, because of the slippery surface, taking in the freshness of the surroundings. It was worth the effort as we had the watery haven to ourselves till more trekkers appeared. They were on way to the Main Fall.
Way to Main Fall
The Middle and Bottom Falls are side attractions compared with the Main Fall or “Long Fall”, the highest waterfall in Hong Kong at more than 100 ft. Our legs had a different take on the situation…they refused to climb up the trail that appeared steeper to the one we had negotiated earlier. It had taken us nearly 2 hours to reach this far and the idea of adding these extra zigzagging steps to the return journey was slightly disconcerting.
A trudge through the village farms, sound proof except for the barking of dogs, and we boarded the bus for Fong Ma Po village on Lam Kam Road for a look at the Wishing Tree.
A disappointment as the Tree propped up, being rehabilitated, has a wishing board as substitute.
$20 for two pre-written wishes..all it takes to feel good.
How to get there: Minibus 25K from Tai Po Market East Rail station or like us take cab from Tai Wo East Rail station to Ng Tung Chai village, Lam Kam Road.