Friday, May 23, 2014

Hiking around Mui Wo 梅窩 on Lantau Island, Hong Kong [Part 2]

Mui Wo on Lantau Island, Hong Kong was a silver and lead mining community during the late 19th century. But historical accounts mention Mui Wo as early as the 13th century. If you missed the first part of my Mui Wo experience, read Hiking around Mui Wo 梅窩 on Lantau Island, Hong Kong [Part 1].

Yuen's Watchtower (left) beside River Silver
After lunch, we proceeded to the west side of Mui Wo. As you leave Ngan Wan Estate, you will see Yu Tak Lei Yuen or Yuen Old Mansion and Watchtower. It is an old granite watchtower by the River Silver and mansion of Yuen Wah Chiu, WWII guerrilla commander and chairman of Mui Wo Rural Committee after the war. The view from the bridge leading to the mansion is very picturesque, especially in the morning (the afternoon sun is behind the mountain).

Luk Tei Tong Watchtower
We first passed by Luk Tei Tong Village where another watchtower built by the Tsang family, the Luk Tei Tong Watchtower is located. Beside the watchtower is a small temple. Just like Wang Tong, most of the structures here are recent and three-floors in height.

There was another small temple on the other side of the village, in front of the village square of Luk Tei Tong.

Looks like some of the locals were preparing for a celebration with roasted suckling pig or siu yuk 燒乳豬!

From Luk Tei Tong, we walked up to Tai Tei Tong Village. In the village square is the Pak Tai Temple. The square is actually a venue for the villagers to hold gatherings and banquets. In fact, there was a community barbecue in the square when we passed by, celebrating the anniversary of a local kindergarden school.

A community barbecue at Tai Tei Tong Village Square
You would immediately notice that half of the community were foreigners. As I mentioned, Mui Wo is very popular with expats, especially those with families. This rural town allows them to live and raise their families in a suburban setting, the same way they would do in their home countries. You'd see young European or American kids walking or biking around and wonder if you are still in Asia!

And to prove how rural Mui Wo is, many residents have farms and plant their own produce. Don't be surprised if you see a water buffalo walking around!

There's another small temple in Choi Yuen Village called Kuan Yam Temple. But we skipped that because it was getting dark and we wanted to be back at the pier before nightfall.

Pak Ngan Heung Village and the village square
An old family temple still stands in Pak Ngan Heung, part of the roof unfortunately collapsed
Even further up is Pak Ngan Heung Village where several attractions are located. There's Silver Mine Waterfall, which unfortunately was down to a trickle when we saw it. It gushes during the rainy season, quite I sight I was told. Nearby is Silver Mine Cave, which is a reminder of the silver mining days of Mui Wo. You can't go in though since they closed it off due to safety reasons.

If you follow the path from the cave, that will take you to the Hong Kong Olympic Trail, a 5.6 kilometer trail that connects Pak Mong Village on the north side of Mui Wo to Pak Ngan Heung. There are a lot of directional signs, so you can't miss it.

Man Mo Temple is the oldest temple in Mui Wo, built during the Wanli era of the Ming Dynasty (1573-1619). It's also the oldest Man Mo temple in Hong Kong, a temple for the worship of the civil god Man Cheong Tai and the martial god Kwan Shing Tai. Paintings depicting ancient Chinese sages and heroes can be found on the facade. You will see this temple on your way to the falls.

The walk from Chung Hau to Pak Ngan Heung is about three kilometers. So back and forth is about six kilometers.

Instead of going back, we decided to complete the loop, arriving in Chung Hau from the north. On the way back we passed by more farms and rural houses.

Too bad there was no sunset that day since it was cloudy. As it got dark, you would see the expats and locals arriving from work on Hong Kong Island, biking or walking home.

Since it was a Friday, visitors were starting to arrive in Mui Wo as well. A popular practice among Hong Kong locals is to rent a house or room in Mui Wo for the weekend for a change of environment. And you'll see families and friends enjoying a barbecue meal.

How to get to Mui Wo
Ferries leave Hong Kong Island for Mui Wo from Central Pier No. 6. Tickets may cost between HK$15.20 to HK$42.90 depending on the type of ferry and day. Sundays are the most expensive. Ordinary ferries are the cheapest but take 55 minutes. The fast ferry can take you there in 35 minutes. Here is the ferry schedule.

Alternately you can take the MTR to Tung Chung. In Tung Chung, board the 3M bus which will take you to Mui Wo. Walking is the means of getting around the villages. But bicycles are available for rent near on of the supermarkets.

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