A New Year Walk At Tai Lam Nature Trail

17th January 2023

"Tranquility, serenity, and beauty of nature taught me how to find happiness in life and the silence of eternity." -Debasish Mridha

I'm a wanderer who's always finding comfort in nature. I just love the presence of solitude and calmness, the soothing sounds of the winds, water, trees, rustling leaves, and chirping birds. It's therapeutic. As if time slows down when I'm in nature. And for a while, I can forget the stressors and bustling city, enjoy the solace it gives me, and just admire its beauty.

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I hate summer as it always hinders me from going out to wherever I want due to the freaking hot weather. When autumn came, I made sure to get my feet back on the trails, with or without a companion. So my recent holidays were spent mostly in the mountains.

My Christmas was spent at Victoria Peak. It's like a small city on a mountain with a stunning view of Hong Kong cityscapes below. And a week after, it was followed by another mountain solo adventure. It wasn't actually in my plan as the initial one was just to sleep the whole day of January 1st. Yet, for some reason, I opted to get up as I don't want to be unproductive on the first day of the year.

I went back to Tai Lam Nature where Sweet Gum Woods is located. It's the same nature trail I visited a week before that day. Thus, I visited the same place twice. The second one has a purpose that I don't want to divulge.

When I got to the bus station, I didn't expect to see a lot of passengers in the queue. Later I understood that it was the first day of the year and people wanted to gather around and celebrate it. Many wanted to spend it on the mountain, just like me.



From the distance, I was already hearing the noise coming from the camping site, and the enticing aroma of barbecue lingers in the air that made me drool over the hot tempting food in a stick over the grills that I imagined.



As I reached the camping/barbecue site, there were indeed a lot of visitors cooking barbecues over grills. All barbecue pits, pavilions, and tables were occupied. I didn't expect to see an enormous number of visitors celebrating the first day of the year on the mountain, as I thought that Chinese people like spending it at home.


A plethora of groups of families gathered around, some set up their tents, while some brought their own camping chairs and mats. Kids were playing around and different kinds of music were played in all corners. A large number of foreign Filipino and Indonesian workers were also around having fun, food trips, alcohol sessions, and karaoke.



I stayed for a while at the barbecue site and enjoyed watching the visitors do their respective ways of enjoyment and relaxation, as well as kids playing around. Since it was lunchtime, I decided to eat the food I brought before heading to the woods. A piece of apple and the Filipino delicacy, Biko, I cooked beforehand were the foods for my lunch that day.

I traced back a familiar route after eating lunch and a lot of visitors were heading in the same direction. The last time I went to this wood, only a few were on the way compared to that day. At least, I didn't feel alone on my journey.


On my way to the woods, I saw this collection of photographs of different spots on the nature trail. Among all the spots, I truly wanted to visit the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir but the staff said I wouldn't have enough time if I go there since it was already two in the afternoon.


The Sweet Gum Woods was even more crowded than the camping site. Despite the sudden rise of Covid cases, people don't seem to care about it. I, myself, didn't mind following social distancing either. Besides, it can't be implemented in a crowded place, lol. Many weren't wearing masks, including me. Who likes wearing it while walking in the mountain anyway.


It was only one week ago when I first visited the woods, but leaves fall too fast. Many trees were already undressed and autumn foliage was turning brown. People seemed to want to catch the autumn foliage before it fades. Yet, undressed trees are also one of the arts of nature.



This didn't stop the visitors from getting souvenir shots with autumn trees. There were still some trees with autumn leaves that were perfect backdrops for photographs.


This is my favorite part of the woods. A long alley of trees shows a contrast between lush green trees and sweet gum trees. While walking in the middle of this paved path, you would feel like you are in two different seasons: summer and autumn.


In the middle of the woods, I spotted this artist teaching kids how to paint autumn trees inspired by the sweet gum woods. I was hooked by it and was amazed by how he easily painted autumn trees using his simple techniques in painting. I suddenly wanted to try one too someday once I have my art materials. But sometimes, it's better to watch than to try. It seems easy but as you do it, you would feel like you rather watch than try painting, lol. Expectations vs reality do exist in everything.



I walked farther as I planned to visit the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir, even just the viewing point. I came across this tree which was the prettiest among all. Leaves were still dense with autumn foliage so people wanted to take photos under its canopies.


I finally spotted the way to the reservoir as I walked even farther. It was past four in the afternoon but I was eager to see what was at the end of the paved path. Only a few were heading in the same direction, but I felt safe so I continued walking. Besides, I truly wanted to see the reservoir.


It's a pretty place to have a walk, isn't it? Especially if you are holding someone's hand, lol.


At the end of the trail, was yet another camping area. Since it was a little bit farther from the main area of the Sweet Gum Woods, only a few are visiting the place. This is most likely the resting place for hikers and bikers. There are some resting sheds, tables, and benches. It's also a perfect place for weekend family picnics.



I was expecting to see the same viewing point of the reservoir I saw on the board, unfortunately, the place was just the starting trail to the reservoir.




There are actually some trails that I could visit from this point, but I opted not to as it was getting late. The sun was slowly setting and the place would turn dark soon so it wasn't a perfect time to explore other trails. Besides, I was alone. Although I saw a few hikers and bikers going to different trails, I preferred to stay in the area to take some photos before heading back to the base.


To get to the trail I desired to visit, I have to trace this way. Maybe next time when I have more time. Yet, I was curious about the tunnel-like path I saw from afar, so I walked a little farther.


And I was right, the farther part has another beauty to behold. It was like a bamboo tunnel and for a moment, I owned the place. I took the opportunity to take a lot of selfies in it, lol.



When I reached the end of the first part of this bamboo tunnel, I saw the man heading to the reservoir. I thought of following him to see what more beautiful spots lie ahead, but then the other part of me said not to since it was late.

It isn't just a place for hikers, the other side of the paved path was intentionally made for bikers. The more I became curious about what else I could see in this trail. Next time, I would truly explore the other parts of this nature trail.


On the left side of the bamboo tunnel is a way to the bottom part of the bridge along the gushing water. I admired the beauty of the place for a while and the sound of the water was soothing to my ears.




I decided to leave the area since it was past five in the afternoon. Soon, dusk would cover the place and it isn't safe for a lady to walk alone in the woods, lol. A few were heading back to the base so I followed them.

I took these souvenir shots before I left the woods. Someone took a great effort to collect the fallen leaves and formed the number 2023.



As I reached the camping site, there were still many visitors who seemed to want to stay up late in the mountain. A night camping in the area is definitely great. There was a group of people dancing to the beat of ethnic-like music. I wish to stay longer, but I know the queue at the bus stop was long so I walked forward.


The Tai Lam Nature trail is definitely a place I would want to visit again and again, with or without autumn leaves. There's a wide barbecue and camping site, paved paths to walk in the woods, and different trails with beautiful spots to visit.


(All photos are mine)

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