Our Hong Kong Trekking Adventures

My new year began with a promising trip to Hong Kong for an overseas assignment. Needless to say, we immediately planned for new terrains to explore, to be inserted in-between assignments. Why waste an overseas opportunity right? Surprisingly there were many highly recommended ones. One would not normally associate “Hiking” with Hong Kong you see. We finally decided to indulge in two of the more popular sites, The Dragon’s Back Trail and Ng Tung Chai Waterfall.

The Dragon’s Back is a popular escape that deservedly gets regular mentions in travel guidebooks. A short hop from the bustle of Hong Kong East, the trail provides stunning views of Shek O, Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea. The Dragon’s Back is a path connecting Wan Cham Shan (226m) and Shek O Peak (284m), stretching vertically over D’Aguilar Peninsula. The path undulates between these hill tops, reminiscent of the shape of a dragon’s backbone.

The Dragon's Back  - 8.5km undulating path of connecting hills

The Dragon’s Back – 8.5km undulating path of connecting hills

The Start Point - Shek O Wan

The Start Point – Shek O Wan

We started in the late morning after a good breakfast and completing my first assignment. The start point was easily accessible by bus but we took a cab since we were residing at Repulse Bay which was quite near. Do note that cab fares are rather high in Hong Kong. It was a sunny day and the temperature was between 14-15 degree Celsius. We dressed lightly and traveled light with just water, some energy boosters (chocolates and nuts!) and warm clothing just in case. A caution we took because the wind could be icy cold they say.

The initial climb up was a steep 60-75 degree elevation, mostly steps. We were surrounded by mainly shrubs and the view was awesome. It became magnificent as we reached the first peak. Do pardon us Singaporeans as the little red dot is although rich in other things, we are not blessed with natural monuments which our neighbours have aplenty. We get dumbstruck at the first sight of natural beauty hehe. We were struck first by the biting coldness of the wind which was blowing us off-balance!

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                                              The journey ahead from the first peak

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The view of South China Sea

We continue the hike along the undulating hill tops that made up the dragon’s back, enjoying the fantastic view of the beaches, islands and South China Sea. Back in the army, walking along the ridgeline was a big mistake. I’m sure glad to be here today as a tourist! The highest peak was at 284 metres and it took us about 45mins. We stayed awhile to admire His wonderful creations, refuel and continue the remaining 7km towards the end point which is Big Wave Bay.

Difficulty level : 3/10 Beginners Total time Taken : 3hrs  Satisfaction level : 100%

The peak at 284m

The peak at 284m

Look at the wind!

Look at the wind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Two days later, we set off again across mainland Hong Kong towards the north.

Ng Tung Chai Waterfall is the best-known and biggest waterfall in Hong Kong. Located at the northern side of Tai Mo Shan, Ng Tung Chai Waterfall consists of 4 waterfalls at different altitudes. From bottom to top, you will see Bottom Fall (Fall under the well), Middle Fall (Horse Tail Fall), Main Fall (Long Fall) and Scatter Fall. The steady flow of water of Ng Tung Chai Waterfall comes from Tai Mo Shan and irrigates the farmlands around Lam Tsuen River, and ends at Tolo Harbour.

The scenic route towards the first fall

The scenic route towards the first fall 

We took the MTR to Tai Poi Market Station followed by Bus 64k to the start point. It was drizzling and temperature was between 16-18 degree Celcius. My last visit to a waterfall was donkey years ago, so i was really excited for this trip. Again, do keep in mind that we are Singaporeans and there are no natural waterfalls here. Do excuse my raging excitement. The journey to the start point took nearly 2hrs. We started climbing around 3pm knowing that we had to start descending before dark which was by 6pm due to winter.

The initial climb was a series of steep winding slopes through a village, a cemetery, many dogs and a monastery. I would be kidding if i said that I did not feel frightened at all. I was! Kecut kejab jantung akak! I was well-trained in the army to somehow mask the expression and keep the fear in control. Fortunately, I have my partner to protect me Yeaaay! If I have long nails, it would have cut into his poor hands… (Good for him that I don’t).

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Are we there yet??

Anyway, the ground was wet. The mud and slippery rocks made the climb much harder than it was and it took longer. We took great caution throughout as I remind myself that I was here in Hong Kong for work so, I couldn’t afford to get injured.  Looking up and welcomed by more steps and up-slopes, the sight began to suck the life out of me. These are moments when I question myself why..Efah? Why did I choose to do this? (This usually happens around the 30km mark of a marathon, halfway through a round-island canoeing expedition and the likes. When your energy level in nearly used up and motivation is down low). However, the sounds of the roaring fall and snippet sights of its magnificence amidst the beautiful canopy, propelled us to continue climbing regardless of the exhaustion.

Alas, the first fall came into view. It was love at first sight. The sun was still shining and the reflection from the water made it magical. Allahu Akbar!

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The Bottom Fall

I was reluctant to leave but I knew we were short for time. The Middle Fall was not too far away and it was more awesome ma shaa Allah. As darkness slowly looms above, we took a few moment to admire its magnificence before we hike on towards the last fall.

The Middle Fall

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The Main Fall – We took a dip! If you can see my face, it was all frozen from the cold. I couldn’t feel my legs!

We took a wrong turn and had to retrace our steps. I was actually quite concern about time but I knew I had to reach the Main Fall regardless. The last one was much further than expected and I was totally exhausted but the view that welcomed us was worth every ounce of pain and effort! We performed Asr by the fall which was totally invigorating. The experience brought khusyuk and gratitude towards the blessings of the AlMighty to a whole different level.

Darkness falls and out came the headlamps! We changed and made our way down the same path. The trek continues to the peak of Tai Mo Shan but we only planned to visit the falls so down we go, back to reality.

Descending was easier of course but much tougher for our aged and torn knees. After “swimming” in the icy cold water, I couldn’t feel my toes so my shoes felt empty. It was rocky, muddy and slippery from the rain so it was doubly hard to get down. Every step was a calculated one. I slipped a few times, heart dropping moments as I see the steep fall below.

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As we stride towards the last stretch, hand in hand, (limbs no longer cooperating), I reflected on the journey we took. Like life itself, I know that in my best and toughest moments, He will always be there and He gives me the best company always.

To more adventures!

Difficulty level: 5/10   Satisfaction level : 100%   Total Time Taken : 4hrs

Things to note: Wearing the right attire is of utmost important to ensure safety and comfort throughout the whole journey. I am glad I have on comfortable and modest ones. Ensure you have sufficient water and food to sustain and replenish your energy. Do read about the destination, heed warnings and check the weather condition especially if you are going up by yourself. Get a great buddy for your trips! Enjoy and be safe!

Love, Efah Anuar

Re-discovering Kemensah

Flicking through past week’s photographs in the trail, I realised that I longed for the muddy ground, ascending among the trees, the clear air, and the rush of the river. What I missed was spending time in the trails again. Taking advantage of the long weekend, I gathered a few friends who were familiar with a route in the Kemensah, Ulu Klang area for a leisurely trail “run” (it was hardly a run, more like walking with occasional spurts of running).

We weren’t aiming for anything ambitious for that day. We set off at a very leisurely pace, excited for what is ahead since most of us are not very familiar with this route. We walked non-stop, and ran once in a while. It was not a very challenging trail, with elevation gain for about 400m. Sometimes there were puddles and small stream crossing, but nothing too technical. We could hear some animals along the way, but we did not manage to spot anything. Frankly speaking, I think everyone just needed a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city which is always a good thing!

The highlight of any trail “run” is taking a dip in the river. After about 6km of walking, finally we heard the sound of water rushing. We finally made it! The river was knee deep, and the lush surrounding trees makes a good spot for a photo op. Some of us brought some snacks drinks, so we took our time by the river to soak in the nature.

 

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The highlight of any trail run!

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Heading back

Heading back

Despite its ease of accessibility and close proximity to the city, Kemensah is not a very popular site for camping unlike Gunung Nuang. Probably because it was not very challenging and not very big, so most people can explore other trails within a few hours. I heard that there is also a waterfall among these trails too, which gives me the perfect excuse to come back again! 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

Compressport Combo Challenge (Trail Run 6K) 2016

Remember my previous trail run experiences at FRIM and my 2nd trail run at Mardi-Maeps? Through my past experiences, I have learnt that trail runs can be unpredictable: What if it rains tomorrow? What if I had to endure another 400m of elevation gain? What if my legs suddenly cramped up? What if I have to swim? I had so many doubts on the Saturday before the race, I was considering if I should skip this week’s event. After all, my legs were not 100% recovered yet since my [incomplete] full marathon debut.

However, thanks to the infectious positive and optimistic vibes of starting a new year, I woke up on race day morning feeling fine and fresh, ready to run again. Aside from a very slow 10K run on 1st of January 2016, I have not been seriously running because my quads still hurt. So what better way to start the 2016 running log with some trail running at Mardi-Maeps!

 

IMG_2371Looks like 2016 will be a great year with these bunch of people! (photo credits to Kyserun Krew)

IMG_2373Hello there, Family Running Crew! (photo credits to Kyserun Krew)

 

My previous experiences in Mardi MAEPS have taught me to be overly prepared and always expect for the worst-case scenario. I knew I was not ready to take on a double-digit trail run event yet, so I signed up for the 6K category. But this time, the 6K route was unexpectadly easy and simple. Hills are unavoidable – they are a part of trail runs anyways. But for today’s case, the uphill climbs were not challenging. According to my Garmin, it was only 188m gain in elevation. My friends who participated in the 12K category thought otherwise. Judging by the blisters on their feet and how tired they looked at the finishing line, I was convinced that their route was definitely tougher than mine.

The only unpredictable part of this trail came at KM3 – we were pleasantly surprised when we were informed that there will be some river-crossing. In my mind, I was prepared to encounter a river that could potentially soak me from head to toe, just like in Hulu Langat Trail Run, and thank god I choose to wear my Nashata Tron Ultra Top today because it’s light and it will dry up fast. Instead, we faced a small stream that was only up to my ankles!

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Expectation…

IMG_2361….vs. Reality

So far, it looks like I’m right on track for 2016! This event gave me the confidence booster needed to take on more challenges, and just the right amount of motivation to start running again. So, how did you spend your New Year?

IMG_2368I am so glad that I decided to run today!

 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

The Weekend Runner: FRIM Forest Trail Run 2015

I have a love-hate relationship with trail running. I would be cursing at myself, but right after the race I would be hunting for the next trail run. Perhaps it was stemmed by my first trail run (Mardi MAEPS Trail Run) in 2014 which was a total blunder. No trail shoes, no hydration pack, socks that were not suitable…what was I even thinking back then?!

 

Yet, it was so addictive. There is something about being in nature, a change of scenery from the concrete jungle that drew me back to off-road races. Unfazed by the bad experience, I signed up again for FRIM Forest Trail Run at the end of 2014. I settled for only 9km, but I vowed that I will be back in 2015 to take on the 16km category. So here I am again, in FRIM Forest Trail Run 2015, to fulfill the promise that I made to myself, hopefully better, faster, and stronger than last year.

 

NHIB65132014, 2015. Same venue, same event. FRIM, it’s good to be back.

Another reason why I was continuously drawn to trail running was because it can be a humbling experience. I felt like the most confident runner in the world. But then it rained heavily the night before. The ground was soft and slippery, with loose stones and gravels scattered along the route. I lost count how many times I tripped. It sounded like a minor problem, but multiply the tripping several times you will end up losing precious minutes, not to mention very painful ankle joints tomorrow.

 

IMG_7561Mother Nature, you win this time. But I won’t lose without a fight. (Picture was taken from FRIM Forest Trail Run 2014).

Trail running can also be very challenging, yet rewarding too. You are transported to a totally different world, it feels like a mini-vacation. The steep, uphill climb that you have to endure? A very beautiful view awaits at the top. The route is long, and sometimes lonely. You can walk for miles, and not bump into a single soul. You leave it all to your instincts and the sign boards. But the sound of birds chirping, leaves rustling, and rushing water from the river will always accompany you. Plus, isn’t the main reason to sign up for trail runs was to enjoy the sights and sounds that nature has to offer?

IMG_2006Sights like this make trail running a worthwhile experience.

I don’t think this love-hate relationship with trail running will go away any time soon. Trail running is here to stay for me, and I look forward to more adventures off-road in the future.

 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.