Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Natural Wonders of Hong Kong

My initial impression of Hong Kong was of a city filled with skyscrapers and crowded streets. However, I visited two areas that highlighted some of its natural beauty.

Walking down the street, it's possible to miss one of Kowloon Park's majestic trees shading the sidewalk. Inside, one finds a well-groomed and colourful oasis. I visited the park on December 2, 2009.

The rose garden was popular.

A variety of birds were kept either inside an aviary, like this rhinocerous hornbill, or outside, like the flamingos below.

There were tables where friends could play Chinese chess.

There is even a little bit of Canada in the park. This Tlinget blackfish totem pole is a gift from Canada to the people of Hong Kong on the occasion of Festival Canada in 1991.

Sai Kung is known as the back garden of Hong Kong. It includes the village of Sai Kung plus some smaller villages in a large natural area. On December 3, 2009, I hiked around Sai Kung with Hilda and Peter. To all my hiking friends, if you get a chance to go to Hong Kong, I would recommend trying to fit in a day at Sai Kung. There are miles of pathways with spectacular views. It's advisable to go with someone familiar with the trails.

The Sai Kung marina has a wide variety of boats, for fishing and pleasure. Dragon boats are visible in the foreground of the photo below.

Hong Kong is trying to preserve the natural setting of Sai Kung. Upon reaching a certain point on the road, visitors must leave their cars in a parking lot and take public transit to go farther into the area. To reach this village below, one must either walk or use a bicycle as there are no roads wide enough for a car.

The houses in this small village are popular with foreigners or others who like the tranquility, lower housing prices and who don't mind the 45-minute commute to downtown. Most of the homes retain traditional architectural features.

Residents keep a beautiful community garden.

Past this village, the trail opens up to vistas of some of the many hills that make up Hong Kong.

Most of the areas where we hiked are close to the sea. The spot below has coral reefs; the government has taken steps to protect them. Sea kayaks are available to rent for those who want to venture onto the water.

The water in some spots is very clean and clear.

Young mangrove trees and other plants help to filter runoff into this bay.

Some camping areas provide picnic tables, barbecue pits and washrooms, plus room for outdoor games, places for fishing and clean beaches.

This camper was drying fish outside his tent.

Visitors can choose paths that vary from smooth paved walkways to rugged and hilly trails. Wear hiking boots or good walking shoes.

Peter takes in the view.

We walked down another trail and eventually returned to sea level.

We then took a short walk to a nearby village to catch a bus back to our car. It was a fantastic day. Thank you Peter and Hilda!

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