Hong Kong: New Territories (East)

I was originally planning on two days in the New Territories, one for the east and one for the west.

The east part is probably the most straightforward and easy place to ride. There's extensive bike trails along the water, and plenty of bicyclists, unlike the rest of Hong Kong which is bus and taxi dominated. And beyond the trails, you enter the countryside and can skirt along the border of Mainland China.

Getting to the New Territories required a trip on a Blue Line train, which is one of two lines that allows for bicycles on trains. To get to the station from Hong Kong Island requires a trip on the ferry from Wan Chai to Hung Hom, then from the ferry terminal, it's about 1-2 miles to the station itself, that's surrounded with a maze of one-way roads, ramps, and forced turns you must avoid.

In the station, they might ask you to remove your front wheel. This is because it's The Rule. You will be chased down and yelled at with your front wheel on. (Hint: Remove your front wheel, then as you turn the corner, out of sight of the gate, put your front wheel back on.)

At the station, it was in the middle of morning rush hour and obviously very busy. But I was doing the reverse commute and didn't have to feel bad about taking up space. I picked a car at the end of the train, attached my bicycle to the stanchion in the middle of the car, with my helmet strap, and sat down.

I got off at Sha Tin and made my way to the waterfront. Again, I experienced a lot of confusion between bicycling from the station and getting to the water.

The trail itself is pretty narrow and bumpy enough that it's tough to ride very fast. In the early morning, and during the week there are evidently hardly any people about. I did encounter a nice older man who gave me directions at one point when I got lost.

The trail eventually transitions from the riverside to into Tai Ho city. Numerous old women were weeding and collecting trash along the way. At some point, I noticed I had dropped my map. This was my second map lost out of my jersey this trip. I went back on the trail and retraced my steps, but it's possible that it was just scooped up by one of the trash collectors.

No map, but I had studied the route the night before. It'd be simply a matter of returning the same way I came, if I got lost. But instead I carried on. I went through Pat Sin Leung park, which was full of high schoolers on student trip field trips. It smelled like BBQ and I realized I hadn't had lunch yet.

About 30 minutes later, I exited the north end of the park and reached the frontier area between Hong Kong and China. It was a restricted crossing, so I snapped a picture and headed now east.

To the east was Fan Ling. From there, I could head south along the highway. I went up a group of police to confirm this and they helped provide a few directions on a map. And I actually wanted to see a detailed map because I was planning a side trip on the return, but their English wasn't too great and whatever map they had I simply couldn't borrow.

I did make a couple of side trips. I went up to the top of a large hill, which was mostly turned into a cemetery. Before a long climb up, I asked at the gatehouse what kind of place it was, but nobody could tell me in English what it was. I did enjoy the view but since it was no through road, I simply had to turn around and get back to the highway. (For reference it was Wo Hop Shek Road.)

After returning to Tai Ho, I found lunch–deep fried noodles with curry sauce. And then a section of the Wilson Trail. Although frequently paved, this turned out to be more of a hiking not mountain bike course, so I ended up carrying my bicycle for a mile or so.

I could see Sha Tin in the distance and that's where I fortunately ended up. It was around 3PM and children were bicycling the waterfront trail. They were doddering around 8MPH and I was ambitiously going 18-20MPH. Although I could have spent a few hours in town, I was hoping to get to the Kowloon ferry before rush hour really began and nighttime came. Luckily nobody was hurt.

I was hot and sweaty, tired but happy. I bought a couple of cartons of Vitasoy and recharged before making it through the gate. (Dark Chocolate Vitasoy is awesome and I hope to find it in the U.S. at some point.) I wish I had a towel but made the most of it with some napkins.

Rather than cycle to Hung Hom ferry, I walked my bike to Tsim Tsa Tsui, then road along some busy road to the ferry. This is probably easier than what I did in the morning.

From the Star Ferry, I got to see another great sunset reflecting off the buildings of Hong Kong Island, the lower deck of the ferry to myself. Dropping my bicycle off in Wan Chai, I took a shower and headed out for hot pot.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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