Sometimes Hong Kong baffles me. In a good way, of course. It’s such a fast-paced urban city that is constantly on the go – bursting at the seams with culture and practically every type of store or cuisine you might be looking for. But at the same time, if you need a quick breather or short time away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s only a short metro or bus ride away. It’s amazing how you can be standing amongst sky scrapers over 100 floors high and within 30-45 mins be sitting on a beach surrounded by a landscape of mountains. That is probably my absolute favorite aspect of Hong Kong.
My cousin and I hiked dragons back two years ago, and on the rare occasion that we were in the same city together once again last week, we knew we wanted to take on another hike together. After some brainstorming (there are so many hikes in hk!) we decided to head over to Lantau Island to tackle the Lantau Peak hike. We thought it would be nice to see The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, a place neither of us had ever been.
We took the MTR to Tung Chung where we walked over to the bus station right outside the MTR station and caught the 3M bus to Pak Kung Au. The public transportation in Hong Kong is seriously amazing. Everything is so easily accessible, and basically anywhere. Since we weren’t familiar with the area we asked the bus driver to please let us know where to get off and he told us to ring the bell about a minute after the bus started to climb. After about 10-15 mins on the bus, and ringing the bell a stop too early by accident (luckily we didn’t get off), we were standing right across the street from the beginning of the trail. The wall is inscribed with Pak Kung Au so we knew we were standing at the start of the hike.
The beginning of our hike started off innocently enough with the sun streaming down and a slight breeze to keep us cool. Immediately we were climbing stairs and little did I know, we’d basically be climbing an assortment of those stairs/rocks for over an hour and a half. Pretty quickly we had already ascended high enough to see the HK airport off to our right.
About 20 mins into our uphill climbs, the winds began to get stronger and we noticed the fog up ahead. Btw, this hike can be killer cardio depending on the speed you take.
At first it was rather interesting hiking amongst the fog and seeing it coming in from both sides, until i realized I couldn’t see anything off to either side of me other. And sometimes no more than 15 or so feet of the narrow path up ahead and behind were visible. That’s when claustrophobia began to set in. I have this fear of being enclosed in small or overcrowded places and it only gets worse once I really start to think about it. I had to try really hard not to think about it and I think it got better once we came across a few others hiking along the trail and it helped me feel less enclosed.
Every time it seemed like we were getting close to the top, we would only make it up there to see there were more steps leading up. I think I eventually just tried to focus on something else and just enjoy being there. I almost feel like the fog added another element to our hike and a small part of me was glad I couldn’t see off the sides in fear of how high we actually were.
After about an hour and a half of continuous climbing through the winds and fog, we finally reached the peak! All 934 meters/3,064 feet. I’m sure the view up there is fantastic on a clear day, but on that particular day it was a complete whiteout from the fog.
After a quick snap of photos (I mean there wasn’t much to see up there at that point) we continued on our way to Ngong Ping, where the Buddha is. There were some pretty narrow/slightly steep parts down, which coupled with the howling wind, warranted an extra amount of balance and caution at times.
It wasn’t until we passed the 810m mark that the fog subsided a bit and we could begin to make out the view.
We came around the side of the mountain and all of the sudden the buddah and wisdom path came into view. We were so close! Good thing because my legs were starting to get a bit shaky at this point.
It took us about 40 mins total to descend from the peak and reach the wisdom path. Naturally we took a walk amongst the 38 wooden steles, which portrayed verses from the world’s best-known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists.
After gaining some wisdom we took the short walk over to the buddah. On the way over we passed through an eerily deserted village. Some of the signs were so new looking, but at the same time the area was so neglected it looked like it had been sitting like that for years. How freaky is that raggedy ann/scarecrow doll in the window? I’m sure this place is loads of fun at night…not.
Soon enough the Buddha came into view once again, but this time a lot closer. After our hike, the stairs leading up to the big buddha were a piece of cake. Once at the top we took a quick leisurely walk around before heading back down to the bus station.
The bus ride back to Tung Chung was a lot longer than coming since we were on the other side of the mountain. It’s actually possible to start the hike on this side as well, but I’m glad we started over in Pak Kung Au so that we could finish up with the Buddha and rest up on the longer bus ride back.
Once back in Tung Chung we rewarded ourselves with a drink from Gong Cha (a taiwanese bubble tea shop) before hopping on the MTR to head home. Hot Logan & red date tea for me, which totally hit the spot since it was beginning to get a bit chilly outside.
The next two days were definitely fun for my calves. Holy soreness. I thought the climb up was what I would be feeling the following day, but my glutes were just dandy. It was actually the climb down I wasn’t prepared for and my calves totally felt it the following few days. Walking down any stairs and basically taking any type of steps down were a total joy.
All in all, a fun hike that I’ll hopefully have another go at, on a much less foggy day.