Last Sunday, the PASM photo meetup organized a hike cum photoshoot for the sunrise on Lantau Peak.
An event postponed several times
Owing to the spat of bad weather that had been affecting Hong Kong, this hike had to be postponed several times. Obviously, bad weather does not make for very interesting photos, especially when you are in the middle of the clouds.
As a reminder, we had something like 3 typhoons in succession over three weeks. The bad weather scourge unfortunately also affected us this time. In fact, we had another typhoon skirting Hong Kong during this hike (again!).
Stairs, stairs and more stairs
As to the hike, per se, it is not that difficult. You just have to keep climbing unending stairs. Contrary to Kowloon Peak, there are no real dangers here, provided you don’t feel adventurous and decide to test the edges of the cliffs.
The real difficulty instead is the physical effort of climbing hundreds of stairs at night. With humidity, some rocky passages might be pretty slippery. The other inconvenience was that a 30-odd group of youngsters decided to do the hike as well. Where this would be an ideal walk in the night, this became a very noisy occurrence, with yells and music disturbing the peace of the night.
There are several viewpoints over the Hong Kong airport. Obviously, needless to remind, do not fly a drone over that mountain: it is prohibited by Hong Kong laws to fly a drone within 5 kms of any airport.
The second interesting viewpoint (at the top of the mountain) is on sunset peak, the neighboring mountain. Apparently, this place can be the occasion of seeing the very interesting phenomenon called the “sea of clouds”.
This requires however certain atmospheric conjunctions which are not always easy to get.
A sleepless night
After having sweated all the way to the top of Lantau peak, we tried to rest a bit at the top, but the wind blowing on top of our sweaty clothes got as result that we could not shut eye. Around 5 AM, we got an alert by the HK observatory that a thunderstorm was headed our way. In order to avoid being too exposed to lightning, we decided to go lower and made our way to a protective rock somewhere lower from the top.
At nearly 6 AM, we got caught in a real rainstorm (with luckily no lightning striking around). The kids who remained on the top must have been even more drenched than us. As the rain stopped, we got lucky and caught a break in the sky with clouds parting to offer us some blue sky and the reddish reflection of the sun on the clouds.
That’s how we were lucky to see something very close to a “sea of clouds”.
Going down after the rain was an exercise in patience. We had the thirty-odd kids queuing behind, and that put some pressure on me to walk faster. That’s how I slipped and fell down at one point, despite my hiking stick. There are stairs all the way down, but those stairs are very slippery when it rained. I was wearing Lowe hiking boots, but the rigidity of the sole and the slippery nature of the floor meant it was not such a good choice.
However, while going down, you have an excellent view over the coast of Lantau, and in particular the giant Buddha of Tien Tan.
How to get there?
You must first take the MTR to Tung Chung station. From there, you must walk to a bus station where you can catch the bus 3 M. In general, it starts at midnight, and last one is around 1 AM. When climbing, tell the driver you want to go to Pak Kung Au, as the far will be reduced by a few HKD.
When you get down, cross the street, continue walking about 100 m in the same direction and you will find the trail entrance. Thereupon, the trail is very clear, just follow the stairs. To see the sunrise on Lantau Peak, you should ideally start your hike at midnight.