26 September, 2011
What's On HK

Tai Long Wan: The Great Escape

26 September, 2011
Tania of T Like Bubble Tea tells us about her favourite escape from Hong Kong… Tai Long Wan Beach in the New Territories which you can only reach by boat or hiking. Once there though, it’s your own private paradise…
Some days you just want to escape the city, wash away the sounds, the smells, go far away, melt into the sand and disappear. In Hong Kong there is a place in Sai Kung, in the new territories called Tai Long Wan where you can do exactly that. It is a place that reminds me of the movie “The Beach” (without the weed plantations that is). If you have never listened to the OST for “the Beach” go download it now, it’s perfect easy listening for lazy days.
So back to my beach. In order to get there you have to take a taxi 45 minutes from central and then either take a boat or hike. I like hiking.
The healing process starts as you arrive in the taxi to Sai Kung Park: the two hour hike takes you pass green mountains, turquoise reservoirs, green hills. As you climb the last hill, tired and sweaty, you glimpse the bright blue water. All exhaustion disappears and you rush down the winding path, speeding up in anticipation. Before you get to the first beach you have to pass by  a small village. Four five houses, a few stray sleepy dogs, some locals and expats quietly sitting with small bowls of rice and fresh tofu, this place is so far removed from anything  “Hong Kong”, it’s difficult to believe that just this morning you were waking up in the stuffy and hectic central.Almost there! You pass another stunning white beach, then climb a little, atop the hill you turn back and take a photo for your special memory box. You pause, catch your breath and embark on another 20 minute hike. Then the view opens up. You have arrived:  two perfect beaches one after another, encircled by rolling green hills, the white sand seems endless and the turquoise water  is picture perfect. Not a car in sight.
We camped here for the first time a few weeks ago. Just brought some sarongs, a tent, apples and pears and a few magazines and books. That’s it! We arrived on Saturday morning (after a heavy Friday night), the moment of jumping into the water was pure exhilaration, all the excesses of the previous night washed away with the sweat and exhaustion.We read, we slept, we swam, our two sausages pretending they were rottweilers chased every dog on the beach. There is a small restaurant owned by a local family where you can get fried Singaporean noodles, rice and fresh bean curd, we got our dinner there and watched the fisherman’s boats pick up the last of the day-trippers. A few people have set up their tents for the night.As I sat on the beach in these twilight hours the quiet beauty of this place started to reveal itself to those left behind. The sky turned pink, the hills encircling the beach made you feel both protected and free from the rest of the world, the heat of the day was slowly disappearing, the water took a pinky blue hue reflecting the sky, the air was still. You could hear the sounds of the forest, the sounds of insects, some dogs howling in the distance, the wind in the nearby trees, some cicadas.As warm sand was falling through my fingers, the anxiety and stress started to melt away. There is no network coverage in this place: no blogosphere, no twitter, no texting, all these things that matter in a city,  don’t exist anymore, pure freedom.
As the last rays of daylight slipped away we were left alone with the stars and a family of mosquitoes. I actually remembered to bring 5 different sprays with me, so the intoxicated family moved to feast on a tent on the other side of the beach.
With no electricity and a small torchligtht there is not much to do but read and chit chat and look at all the myriad of stars. Oh and of course there is always the plane watching. Little triangular shapes carrying hundreds of people around the world. Where were they going, what was their story, were they flying for work or to see their family?
It took me a while to fall asleep, the hard ground, the sounds of the nature in the night, our minds are so used to neon light and sounds of people and airconditioning, it takes a while to adjust to all these new sounds. Next day we did everything and nothing, sleeping, reading, eating a little. Just like that a perfect weekend away was over.
The way back to central, is always bittersweet, the trip itself on a small wooden boat is so beautiful: sunset, waves breaking on the cliffs, but at the back of your mind you know soon you will be back to reality, your phone will start working, blackberry will start beeping, 40 minutes and you will be in central. TLW will be a distant memory.
Wearing a ZARA scarf, I use as a dress, sarong, beach towel and sometimes a top. Belt Stradivarius.
This post was originally published here on Tania’s amazing blog, T Like Bubble Tea!
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