While planning my first ever solo trip overseas to Hong Kong, I already had my eye on visiting some of the islands. Tung Ping Chau, a deserted and practically abandoned island caught my eye. I knew I would have to give up clean toilets, pay for overpriced food and brave the risk of missing the last ferry to back to Hong Kong (which would have forced me to stay on the island for the entire week). But it sounded like an atypical adventure, and sure enough it was hands down the best part of my trip.
To get there, one would have to wake up pretty early in order to catch the ferry, which is located a 20 minutes walk away from the University MTR Station. In fact, I was running late and found myself dashing into the train carriages, landing myself in a first class carriage (that train goes all the way to China). I was in active wear, and felt very awkward amidst the businessmen in suits. I realized that it is probably a bad idea to stay in first class (I didn’t even look the part), so I quickly went back to peasant class.
The adventure didn’t end there though. Before I had a chance to catch my breath, I knew I would have to run for my life if I was going to catch the ferry. I didn’t fly here to miss the chance to go to Tung Ping Chau, so that’s what I did. The ferry terminal is further than I thought and the sloping pavements of Hong Kong didn’t help at all. Right before I reached, an uncle shouted to me “Run faster, the ferry is leaving soon!” I paid the 90HKD while panting, my face flushed, and slept for the 1.5 hours it took to get there.
Once I reached, I needed to use the toilet. There weren’t any. There were neither flush nor toilet paper. There were spiders though, along with their webs, of course. Luckily I only needed to pee. Really bad first impression I must say, what if I had to poop later on? But the thing about this island is that you have no choice once you go there. It would be 9 hours before the ferry would come again, so I could either moan my fate or trudge on.
It was an elongated island, and the trail circles it. I decided to turn left, for no particular reason, but it turned out to be a good decision – the main beach is on the right, where I rested while waiting for the ferry to come.
By now you must be thinking, so what is the big deal about this island?
I was rewarded by well, gorgeous rocks. Even if you can’t appreciate the fine layers of lithification of the sedimentary rocks, which by the way form the youngest parts of Hong Kong since it is weathered and deposited from the initial part of the main island, which was mainly extrusive igneous rocks formed from volcanic eruption. Even if you don’t appreciate the wonders of its geology (which I did, very much), the whole island is a wonderful photo-op. Hiking from one mass of land form to another was made extra fun because I never knew what type of strange rocks would greet me. And yes, each group of landform were rather distinct from each other! From uplifted sedimentary rocks where I should have taken optical illusion pictures of myself doing the Michael Jackson, to oxidized, rainbow sedimentary rocks resembling giant, pastel kueh lapis, there was truly fascination all around me, as long as I opened my eyes and took in everything.
And I could, simply because there was nothing to distract me. None of the excess of urban areas, which often drowns out our inner peace. Just the rhythm of the waves hitting (and eroding, over millions of years) the sedimentary rocks jutting out into the sea. I found a nice rock cliff and challenged myself to climb it, which I did. I sat there and my mind was clear for once, when it hasn’t been for a very long time. I didn’t find my purpose or achieved enlightenment while sitting precariously on one of the rock cliffs. But I did feel myself finally living in the moment. I took in the sounds, the sights and the freshness of the air.
When I was sitting on the It suddenly struck me that I was all alone, 1.5 hours + 4 hours away from Singapore. It felt like I was the furthest I have ever been from home, not because of the physical distance itself but because of the journey that have carried me to that point in time, and the sheer pride in myself for having braved the trip in the end. My clear mind became flooded with bliss. I was simply happy.
The inner parts of the island which one would have to hike through to get from one area of landform to the next were also fun in their own way. Again, it was just me and the nature, which gave me so much fun as I took really stupid must-not-see-the-daylight selfies. It was the kind of solitude not found in cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, not even on the more popular islands like Lamma or Pulau Ubin, and I LOVED it.
There was also an area where the previous settlement used to be. Dilapidated houses, half-built houses, overgrowth. More spider webs. It was pretty fascinating, and very haunting as well.
By the way, I did end up finding a decent toilet for doing big business. There is no flush, but it was not gross because it was the hole-in-floor kind of toilet, where whatever leaves you disappears into an abyss of darkness. I also had the luxury of sharing the toilet with some pretty large spiders, and had to close the door with one hand, while trying to see in the dark before there were no lights. But I accomplished my mission, and didn’t have to poop in the wilderness.
So yes, this is my tale of spending some time with the wonders of nature, so simple, so calming. I want to go back now welps.