27th December 2022
Before anything else, I would like to greet a Merry Christmas and an advance happy new year Pinmapple community.
The weather was so perfect on the 24th of December, and I thought of going out. I planned to visit a mountain since I missed the trail. It was last spring the last time I hiked a mountain. There's a perfect place to visit every autumn, a place where I could see real autumn leaves. I went to this place last 2017 in late January, but the leaves were already starting to fall and turning brown.
#TravelHongKong: Pre-Christmas Hike To Tai Tong Sweet Gum Woods
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I was hesitant at first because I woke up at past 9 in the morning and I thought it was quite late to prepare for a hike. Although the trail wouldn't take long to complete, the location is in the countryside, and quite far from my place. Yet, since it was my holiday, I opted to go out as it'll be boring to stay indoors the whole day. Besides, I missed going to the mountain.
I packed my small backpack and readied to go with only the necessary things inside. It'll be a solo journey since my friend was working. It was already 11 when I went out of the house, and I directly go to a restaurant to fill my empty tummy. I bought packed food and water afterward that I could bring to the mountain in case I feel hungry.
I hurriedly went to MTR station to catch up with the time. As expected, it was too crowded since it was the weekend. The last stop is 11 stations away from our place and it took me almost an hour to reach it.
It was already 1 in the afternoon when I reached the last station, Long Ping. From this station, I walked for a few minutes to look for the bus going to the nature trail. Since it was my first time in the place, I was kind've lost looking for the bus stop. I was walking in the opposite direction, only to find out that the bus stop is just near the MTR station. I was too dumb not to ask people too early. It wasted about half an hour of my time.
I found a good spot on the second deck of the bus beside the window. It allows me to see the beautiful view outside. The starting point of the trail is 40 minutes away from the bus stop.
It was almost 2 in the afternoon when I reached the starting point of Tai Lam Nature Trail. All passengers were heading to the same destination so I wasn't alone on the trail. Taxis and red mini-buses were allowed to go up the trail. The minibus would directly go to the Tai Tong Sweet Gum Woods and I didn't think of riding on it. Besides, I didn't know the bus terminus for the red minibus.
It wasn't really a hike but just an afternoon walk. I walked along the long stretching concrete path and came across a pavilion where people were resting, and a holiday camp where visitors were having a party inside.
After 5 minutes of walking, I reached yet another point on the trail. Some visitors were resting, some were going back to the bus stop, and a few were going up.
There are actually two trails in the area and I have forgotten about them. My plan was to visit the Tai Lam nature trail where I could see red leaves. It's been five years since my last visit and I even forgot the direction going to the trail so I only relied on the sign boards.
I stayed for a while when I saw others eating ice cream. I grabbed one for myself as well. According to my boss, this Mobile Softee is the oldest ice cream truck in Hong Kong and has been operating around HK since 1970. If you visit HK, you would see this truck in different parts of HK, especially in places with tourist attractions, such as beaches and country parks, and also outside schools. Sometimes it would go around villages with its distinct music. And as residents heard it, they would go down from their flats to buy this ice cream.
I decided to go up the stairs while eating my ice cream as I realized that the time was running out and I might not be able to visit the sweet gum woods. I stumbled upon a wide barbecue and camping area where a lot of visitors were having fun. There were several resting pavilions, barbecue pits, benches, and tables. Some set up their tents, while the kids were playing around.
On the eastern side are a few viewing decks that offer a scenic view of the city and the country park. There were a few trees with red leaves in the area too. I stayed for I guess an hour taking photos and videos of the place before I opted to find the real starting point to the Sweet Gum Woods to see red leaves.
There's an embarrassing thing that happened to me that day. I lost direction twice. The first was when looking for the bus stop. The next one was when I was looking for the starting trail to the sweet gum woods. That's because I didn't ask anyone beforehand and just followed my wrong instinct 😂.
I followed this trail, only to find out in the middle of the forest that I was heading to the wrong one. It wasn't the Tai Tong trail that I should follow, but the Tai Lam trail. Wtf! I ran back to this area after wandering solo in the middle of the forest and found out that I was lost again, lol. (I might make a separate post about it, lol)
The real trail was just actually on the main concrete road. I walked up the sloping road and came across these signs showing the right direction to the sweet gum woods, and reservoir.
There are different spots to visit in this country park. But since it was already late when I found the right trail, I wasn't able to visit the reservoir and the eco-park.
I felt relieved when I finally spotted the first part of the sweet gum woods and saw some trees with autumn leaves.
The Sweet Gum Woods Tai Tong is the most popular tourist attraction during the autumn and winter seasons because of the sweet gum trees.
A long lane of Tai Lam Country park is turned into a magical wood when the transition of leaves from green to reddish and orangish starts. The rustic view of autumn leaves is truly breathtaking.
There are only a few places in Hong Kong that have autumn trees. This one is the biggest and most visited one. I felt disappointed when I saw not-so-red leaves on the first part of Tai Lam, only to discover more spots as I walked along.
As mentioned above, I've been to this place in 2017. However, as I walked along the trail, I realized that there are more spots that we haven't visited back then. In the middle of the woods, there's an intersection divided into two directions.
The left direction, from the starting point in the photo below, is going to more sweet gum trees and fruits, a viewing point of Tai Lam Reservoir (which I failed to visit), and I also saw a way down to the reservoir. If only I had enough time, I should have visited the reservoir as there might be more pretty spots along the way.
You can see a part of the reservoir from the distance in the photo below.
There is also a small temple below this area for those who want to offer prayers. A small staircase is located just next to the temple going down to the reservoir. But I didn't go down as it was getting late already.
The benches from old railway sleepers serve as the resting place of the visitors overlooking the sweet gum woods on the opposite side.
This is where I found a small sweet gum tree and took a closer shot of its leaves. Since it's already late December, some leaves are turning brown and deteriorating.
I walked back to the intersection and continued walking in the opposite direction. The right area of the woods is the prettiest part as it has more sweet gum trees, and it seems to be the center part of sweet gum woods.
It was almost 5 in the afternoon when I reached this place and I regretted not visiting it first because I only had limited time since it was already dawn and getting dark. Down the slope are more trees and I am certain that there are more beautiful spots if I would walk farther in the woods.
Yet, I was able to capture the beautiful sunset. So pretty and romantic, isn't it? There were a lot of couples in the place taking photos of the sunset. As if they were having a prenuptial. The autumn trees with the sunset are truly a perfect backdrop.
Of course, I just can't let the sunset pass without taking a photo with it. Thanks to my tripod. I was able to capture one before it went down below the horizon and the dusk covered the place.
I stayed in the area until 6 in the evening. People were leaving one by one and a few, including me, remained. When it was totally dark in the woods, I decided to go as I might be left alone.
There aren't street lights, so we relied on the flashlights of our phones. I took a last glance of the glimmering city from above before I went down to the bus stop.
It took me more or less half an hour to walk back to the bus station and I came across a long queue of visitors waiting for buses. Fortunately, one came from the woods and I was still on the sidewalk so I was able to hop in before them. Or else, I'll be staying in the place probably until 7 or 8 in the evening as the number of buses going to the place were limited.
I would certainly visit this place again and again. Can't wait to see the strawberry farm and eco park nearby. I'll probably visit them in spring.
That's all for now. See you in my next travel blog.
(By the way guys, care to follow me on my channel? Watch, like, and share my video about this place 😊) Gracias!
How to get to Sweet Gum Woods Tai Tong?
- From any point in Hong Kong, travel to Long Ping MTR Station.
- Take Exit B2 and look for the bus terminus with K66 bus going to Tai Tong.
- The bus would stop at the starting point of Tai Lam Country Park.
Just follow the signs or ask people how to get to the sweet gum woods if you don't want to get lost
(All photos are mine)
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