Header images courtesy of @andrew_angles and @eterictse (via Instagram)
If you could combine the words “adventure,” “social distancing,” “nature,” and “easy” into one massive dictionary search, a photo of Po Kwu Wan (曝罟灣) would most likely pop up. (Not to be confused with Sok Kwu Wan, a fishing village on Lamma Island.) Po Kwu Wan, a hidden pocket of Hong Kong history, can be found slightly off of the main path of the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail and Sheung Yiu Country Trail.
What used to be a fish farm for local fishermen is now a weathered historical monument that makes for an interesting photo spot. So pack a snack and a book, and head out with a friend to explore this lesser-known piece of the Sai Kung countryside. As always, here’s a friendly reminder to bring a spare bag to keep all your trash in and to not feed any wild animals—let’s keep our trails and animal buddies safe.
Like many of Hong Kong’s hikes and nature trails, the trip to Po Kwu Wan includes a trek through local history. Prior to arriving at the concrete embankment, you will have the opportunity to check out the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum, set up to preserve the history of a Hakka village established by the Wong clan in the nineteenth century.
Sheung Yiu village flourished due to its lime kiln, relying on the high demand as mortar and fertiliser. The emergence of bricks and cement eventually led to the decline and abandonment of the village until its restoration in 1983. Nowadays, visitors can visit the original lime kiln and the mini-port villagers docked their boats at. However, due to the current pandemic situation, the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum is closed until further notice—make sure you check for updates before dropping by.
Keep in mind that the journey to Po Kwu Wan veers off of the main Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail towards the end, but the path is marked with ribbons from previous hikers and does not involve difficult climbing. And regardless of leaving on the other side of the embankment, the trail to Po Kwu Wan eventually merges back to the way you came.
Distance: 4.5 kilometres approx.
Ascent: 58 metres
Time: 2.5 hours
After you alight at Sheung Yiu bus stop, head back in the direction the bus came from on Tai Mong Tsai Road—do not walk in the direction for the MacLehose trail. You will pass a small public rubbish centre, with a little store-slash-restaurant called Faat Kee Store (發記士多) across the street. Cross the road here and look for the sign for the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail, and the bridge that marks the entrance. Cross the bridge—the Pak Tam Chung Family Barbecue area will be on your left and the path for the Sheung Yiu Family Walk will be on your right.
Family-friendly with paved roads and information signs that give cool facts about the plants and history of the area, one of the highlights of this trail is the Sheung Yiu village, now preserved as a museum. As you go forward, you will get to see the original lime kiln that powered the economy of the village. Its importance is due to the fact that the lime industry was one of the four major rural industries in the nineteenth century, used primarily in construction and as material for paper, dye, fertiliser, and pesticide.
Due to its proximity to the coastline, Sheung Yiu village had easy access to shells to make lime. The Sheung Yiu Folk Museum is right around the corner after you pass the lime kiln, with the old pier that the villagers used to use to travel to the inland across from the museum. Feel free to stop at the rest pavilion next to the pier for a water break and drop by the museum!
After the museum, the path continues until it intersects with a set of stairs signifying the start of the Sheung Yiu Family Walk. Do not go up and keep going straight, avoiding the road that leads up to the Bradbury Camp, until you reach a junction between Hei Tze Wan village and Wong Yi Chau village. Take the path on the left towards Hei Tze Wan village, before heading up the stairs. You will come across an abandoned village at the top of the stairs.
Walk straight past the village until you reach another junction in the road. Head to the left, where the road quickly becomes a forest path—not the stairs to the right. You will walk through the forest for around 10 to 15 minutes until a path opens up on your right towards the coastline. Helpful hikers have tied a bunch of red and purple ribbons here, and an old red lai see (利是) packet to mark the entrance. Head down this path until the road flattens out and runs along the coastline. You should get a glimpse of the embankment from here! Head to your right and keep going for another few minutes before you arrive at Pok Kwu Wan!
Pok Kwu Wan’s embankment itself definitely shows its age, with small sections of it patched up, making it difficult to walk across. Here are three main tips: When crossing the small section of metal piping, use both hands to grip the metal assist bars on the right and shuffle slowly. To cross the narrow section made of stone, the sides of the platform are kind weathered inwards, forming a long notch along the side, thanks to many people shuffling over. Hikers recommend saddling the block, notching your feet into the side, and shuffling over. And for the final “difficult” section, you can either utilise the same shuffling method just mentioned or hikers can carefully walk across the bottom if the tide is low enough!
To get back to Sai Kung, you essentially retrace how you arrived. If you crossed the embankment, follow the path and turn left at the first junction before continuing on. You will end up walking past the ribboned entrance, and then it’s the same path back. The bus stop is right next to the little store outside the Pak Tam Chung Nature Walk entrance.