The last day was a bit slow-paced. I was just strolling around Causeway Bay area, then decided to check out some museums to visit. They were all closed when I got there or the featured exhibits were closed already. I had no other options what to do next.
After an hour with nowhere to go so I just decided to go back to my hotel.
While resting, I was browsing the pages that I bookmarked while researching for this trip and came across strippedpixel’s blog of HK’s easy hiking trails. Then motivation hit me, I’d go hiking this afternoon. The easiest one was Braemar Hill but I thought since it is easily accessible, a lot of tourists will be there so I chose the next trail, a bit farther and a bit harder which is the Jardine’s Lookout.
Getting to the start of the trail was quite easy. I boarded the green minibus number 5 whose starting point was at Canon Street in Causeway Bay. A mere 10-minute walk from where I am staying. I was relying on google maps to know which station to get off and press the stop button at the right time but I want to make sure that the stop is the right one. I spoke in Mandarin to the bus driver “Laoban, xia yi zhan yao xia che ba.” (I’m getting off at the next stop). He replied in Cantonese so I really don’t know if he understood me. Then at Sinopec garage, he slowed down and stopped, opened the door for me and smiled. What a relief.
An excerpt from Wikipedia:
Jardine’s Lookout is a mountain and a residential area on the Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. It is located Southeast of the Wan Chai district and South of the Tai Hang area, at an altitude of about 433 metres. Nearby hills include Mount Nicholson, Violet Hill and Mount Butler etc.
It is named after William Jardine, founder of Jardine Matheson. It was from here, in the days of the sailing ships, that a watch was kept for the first glimpse of the sails of the firm’s clippers coming from India and London.
Jardine’s Lookout was the sight of fierce conflict in the Battle of Hong Kong and particularly, the Battle of Wong Nai Chung Gap. The Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps and Middlesex Machine gunners manned two pillboxes and other areas defending the pass around Jardine’s Catchwater, as well as Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers defending the adjacent Mount Butler. Japanese forces, after landing on the North Shore of Hong Kong Island; used Sir Cecils Ride and moved up to this pass midway up the lookout and were engaged by Commonwealth forces. The fighting was the preliminary conflict in the Battle of Wong Nai Chung Gap.
Today, the lookout is a known hiking destination of locals and expats to enjoy the scenic view of Hong Kong. The path going to Jardine’s Lookout is by getting into the start of Phase 2 of the Wilson Trail, whose entrance is just before Hong Kong Park View Hotel.
The first part of the climb was quite easy. Tall, tropical trees shade clearly marked paths where concrete stairs are placed for climbing. The path was wet though. It was raining before I arrived here.
Minutes later, the trees start to clear up and the transition was abrupt, everything around is full of low-growing shrubs and grasses. The concrete path was gone now. All that was left is bare damp soil to walk on to and occasional muddy rain holes to skirt around. The climb now was a steady uphill.
Around fifteen to twenty minutes later, steep uphill gaps appear which requires to take a high step going up and grab on to something. Nevertheless, it doesn’t require much effort but you’ll be gasping for air by now and drenched in sweat. I forgot to bring bottled water, so you can imagine how thirsty I was at this point.
Around twenty five minutes or so, looking behind me, the southern view of the island start to rise The scene was breathtaking and offered a bit of relief. But need to walk further.
At the Peak
Cool mountain breeze was blowing against my sweaty skin, giving me quite a chill. Another ten minutes or so of continuous uphill, I came across a signage. The signage was pointing to both directions, one going back to where I came from, the other going further towards Mt. Butler. Behind the signage was a memorial stone and realized I have already arrived.
A few steps further from the stone was a clearing, and a fence where there are thick bushes behind. And beyond the bushes, a steep jump downhill, which reveals the scenic view of the entire Hong Kong island.
Directly below were condominiums and affluent residential area. Further ahead is the entire area of Causeway Bay, ships lazily drifting across the Victoria Harbor. Draping the back drop is the smoggy skies of Kowloon on the opposite side.
The view to the left is the skyscraper Central district with the IFC Towers, both on the island and Kowloon side being the most prominent. One could not also miss the Bank of China tower with its iconic zigzag lines defining its architecture and the Central Plaza building with it’s syringe-like top.
Behind, looking southwestwards, the entire Repulse Bay can be seen and panning eastward from that view is the Tai Tam Reservoir and further beyond is the South China Sea. To the right, is the path further ahead, going downhill, towards a quarry site and towards Mt. Butler.
For what seemed like eternity, I waited for hours for the buildings to light up and get a decent night shot from this vantage point. It was five already and maybe I still need to wait for an hour or two. So I setup my tripod from the best vantage point where I could the best cityscape shot.
Meanwhile, some hikers came along the way and took some pictures while I waited . Most of them came from the other end of the trail, particularly the entrance from Mt. Butler Rd. The way from there was a bit shorter and easier.
Around 6:30, there was no hiker in sight. The wind became chillier and the sky light lesser. Dark clouds were hovering over the horizon, letting the last slivers of sunlight for that day. Still, the buildings were not lit up. I had to make my descent now or else I’ll be blindly walking in darkness. Just when I was about to pack my things, the buildings started to flicker. I need to get the shot as fast as I can. I think I was finished for around 5 minutes and packed up.
I quickly made my descent praying for the light to be still around. When I reached the trees area, some 10 minutes before reaching the main road, it got completely dark and I was thinking of snakes or hidden animals that might come out and attack me. Before I completely panicked from paranoia, I saw the streetlights from beyond the bushes and I was confident I was safe.
1. Take Green Minibus 5 at Canon Street in Causeway Bay. See the travel schedule here.
2. Get off at Sinopec garage and walk further until you reach the overpass. Climb the stairs going up and walk towards the direction to Hong Kong Park View Hotel.
3. Walk uphill for around 10 min, past Wong Nai Chung reservoir. Before you reach the hotel, you’ll see the entrance to Stage 2 of Wilson Trail, on the left side of the road.
4. Head towards the entrance and follow the signs leading to Jardine’s lookout. It will be a 30-45 minutes uphill climb towards the peak.
5. Going back. There is a bus stop (left most) on the opposite side of the overpass where you initially climbed from Sinopec. It does not matter which bus you take. They will all take you back to the city. The one I rode took me to North Point MTR and from North Point, I took the MTR back to Causeway Bay
Days 1 and 2 entry can be found here.