Ngong Ping

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Jason Pagliari invites you on a jungle jaunt from the Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal clockwise round the mountains to Pak Kung Au

When selecting a hike for the hot, wet months of June and July, it’s best to start at high altitude, where it’s coolest and you can avoid excessive climbing. This trek from the Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal to Pak Kung Au ticks those boxes, while providing great mountainside views over Lantau Peak, the airport and Tung Chung.

We’ll be heading along the Nei Lak Shan Country Trail, a circular hike from Ngong Ping, and continuing down the northern slope of Lantau Peak (Fung Wong Shan), through a monastery-packed village deep in the jungle. From there, we’ll hike 2 kilometres of the Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail to the bus stop at Pak Kung Au, on the crest of the old Tung Chung Road. This hike covers 9 kilometres (and we expect to complete it in four hours) but you can easily foreshorten it by heading back to Ngong Ping after the Nei Lak Shan Country Trail.

Start: Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal

Our group and dogs meet at Ngong Ping village for lunch to discuss our route and fuel up. (It’s an Ebeneezer’s vindaloo curry for me.) Starting out from the cable car terminal building, we follow a wall on the north side of the plaza, behind the village, and cross over a drainage channel. There’s a large map here which shows the trails in the area. We follow the cement-and-stonework Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail for about half a kilometre and take a detour up a small hill on our left to enjoy an awesome view of Lantau Peak and the Big Buddha.

Re-joining the main trail as it meanders gently upwards, we arrive, after a short while, at a junction with steps leading up on the right. This is the start and end point of the circular Nei Lak Shan Country Trail, which extends around the mountain of the same name to the east of Lantau Peak. Continuing on, following the cable cars, our trail winds its way uphill among trees, and there are a few wooden bridges over streams.

Climbing to the top of some steep steps, we take a right fork onto an earth trail. It starts to get breezy as we break tree cover into grassland. A narrow trail on the left, which takes you up to the cable car relay station at its highest point, is well worth investigating as you get a great airport view from the hilltop. Note too that you can take the Rescue Trail steps from here all the way down to Tung Chung; we stop at the relay station for a breather before returning to our original path.

Nei Lak Shan Country Trail

We’re now heading north-easterly around the side of Nei Lak Shan peak. There’s a trail leading up to the summit at 751 metres, where there’s a transmitter station and some strange rock formations. But we continue on, looking across the cable cars and big boulders towards the airport and then taking in a plunging view down to Tung Chung Valley, some 500
metres below.

In the winter, silver grasses glow in the sun up here and shimmer in the breeze like horse’s tails. There’s usually a gentle breeze wafting along the mountainside whenever you make this hike. In the wet summer months, it’s refreshingly cool and you’ll likely be right up in the clouds – with 50-metre visibility, you’ll be focusing on the trail ahead.

At this point, the trail starts to meander down through thick hillside vegetation and we’re hit by a barrage of sound – frogs croaking in the streams, cicadas chirping and birds calling to each other. In counterpoint to this, a faint but deep roar echoes up through the forest, emanating from the airport and Tung Chung town.
This section of the trail is one of my favourites – a wide and rocky boulder-scape set among trees.

As the hillside path turns to the southeast, we break tree cover to see Lantau Peak looming above us on our left. We then come to a fork with stone steps leading up on the right; this is the final part of the Nei Lak Shan Country Trail, which we skip. Continuing straight on, we take a hard left when we reach a road. A trail map reveals that you can quickly get back to Ngong Ping from this point. But we’re headed north to Tei Tong Tsai village, through the sacred and inscribed Dong Shan Fa Mun archway.

Fa Mun Traditional Path

The Fa Mun Traditional Path leads steeply downhill from Dong Shan Fa Mun. We rest up at a pagoda near the start. Various trails lead out from around here and it’s difficult to identify where they all go, likely to the secluded spiritual retreats that this area is known for. We start seeing signs in English asking hikers to keep quiet, as many devotees are in meditation in this quiet and peaceful place. Conscience dictates we respect the request for silence.

We pass through an open area by Po Lam Zen Monastery and the monks’ organic vegetable garden, as we follow the main path to Tei Tong Tsai village, which translates as something like ‘small pond in the ground.’ We find ourselves in thick jungle laced with giant bamboo as we reach the village notice board. Sticking to the main path, there are streetlights on the steps leading down. We pass more monastery retreats, farmland and a large private pond on our right, which we speculate is where the village got its name.

Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail

Leaving the village and heading downhill to the east, the path crosses a wooden bridge over a gently bubbling brook. A fork to the left leads down to Shek Mun Kap village and on to Tung Chung, but we take the steps uphill through forest. A map here informs us we are now on the Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail, a 2-kilometre long, natural path that winds up and over a thick forest to the old (disused) Tung Chung Road. There’s a picnic area near the end where we rest up and enjoy the glorious open mountain views. After about 30 minutes on this trail, we reach its conclusion at another picnic area with an arched entrance. Now on the homeward stretch, we walk up the old Tung Chung Road a short way to the bus stop at Pak Kung Au.

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