Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Fu Tei Road
Sometimes good adventures are literally right out your back door. I decided to walk up Fu Tei Road, which runs right behind our apartment on campus and up into the hillside. Immediately, I was faced with the option of going up the main road, which had a Private Road sign, or up the path/walkway to the left.
I decided to explore the walkway first. Very quickly I found myself among a maze of dilapidated walkways and stairs. Some of the areas looked liked infrastructure long forgotten and neglected. I felt like I was in an episode of Lost!
Then I came upon bunches of little huts and small houses, very run down and certainly lacking any kinds of utilities or conveniences. An official sign at one point implied many were squatter homes. It was strangely quiet, except for some curious dogs that woke up on a patio and started barking at me. A gentle "lei ho" (Cantonese for hello) seemed to calm them down. Given the dogs, the eerie quiet, the narrowness of the walkways, the stillness of the air, I felt a bit like I was invading people's privacy. Heightening this sense was the fact that many walkways simply terminated at a hut, which forced me to just turn around in someone's "yard." For these reasons, I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures. I did get some shots through the trees later. Suffice it to say, the living conditions were exceptionally poor--a sharp contrast to the ostentatious wealth one sees in the developed parts of Hong Kong.
Feeling uneasy about both the privacy and the dog issues, I made my way back down to the fork in the road and started the climb up Fu Tei Road. Partway up I came upon a more formal village. The houses seemed sturdier than the squatter huts, but conditions were still not great. These are likely the homes of the people I had seen in previous days coming out of Fu Tei Road dressed for work. There were some cars, too, in the village. Once again, though, it was strangely quiet, except for more dogs. I left when they started making a racket.
Further up the road I started to get some good views. In this picture, you can see the very top of our apartment, which I've marked in white. Campus lies to the right of our apartment.
The road grew very steep in places. All along the road were dated pieces of infrastructure that I think are related to storm runoff and drainage. I avoided the Others.
As I climbed, I saw several people descending with hiking staffs or otherwise looking like they were out for exercise. So, I wasn't totally surprised when I reached the top and found a little barbecue area and really cool-looking trail head.
This is the start of the Tuen Mun trail, which I hiked down just a few hundred meters. The view into the valley on the other side was spectacular. Next time I'm going straight up and extending the adventure down the trail a bit.
It's easy to reduce Hong Kong to the bustling urban skyscrapers that dominate our image of the place. But, the natural areas of Hong Kong seem to hold immense beauty. And while most residents have a small flat in a high-rise, many people still take up residence in these natural areas.