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Behind the Name: Kowloon Peak

By Celia Lee 30 October 2023

Header image courtesy of Minghong (via Wikimedia Commons) 

If you already know all about Hong Kong’s major landmarks, you will be interested to learn that the vibrant history of the city is often hidden in plain sight, surrounded by high-rises interspersed with traffic-packed streets.

With the best-kept historical secrets woven into the fabric of everyday life, location names are a big part of our rich cultural landscape, revealing some of the most interesting aspects of the past. From local pirates to a royal visit, our “Behind the Name” series explores a whole host of places in Hong Kong with fascinating stories behind their names.

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Photo: 方畢可 (via Wikimedia Commons)

As the tallest in its area, Kowloon Peak is a mountain located in Ma On Shan Country Park, making for a frequent spot for hiking enthusiasts.

Labelled “Kowloon Peak” on colonial maps as early as 1885, it was subsequently referred to as “Kau Lung Peak”—a phonetic spelling of Kowloon Peak. On an 1908 map, it was also referred to as “Chapmangliyang” (赤望嶺; cek3 mong6 leng5) which means “Red Viewing Ridge.”

There are two stories behind this second appellation. One relates to a weather phenomenon, where fog surrounding the peak turns into a symphony of colours when illuminated by the sunset, hence the allusion to “red.” The second relates to the shrines constructed on Kowloon Peak by early settlers praying for rain and good fortune to heaven.

Kowloon Peak is now also known as Fei Ngo Shan (飛鵝山), which literally translates to “Flying Goose Mountain.” It is unclear if a single story sparked its existence and continued usage by locals, but the common explanation suggests that the wing-shaped peak inspired this alias. In 1965, “Fei Ngo Shan” replaced “Chapmangliyang” as the official phonetic translation of the peak’s name and remains the most popular Cantonese reference to the summit.

Photo: Minghong (via Wikimedia Commons)
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Celia Lee

Staff writer

Born and raised in Hong Kong and educated in the UK, Celia is passionate about culture, food, and different happenings in the city. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her scouting for new and trendy restaurants, getting lost in a bookstore, or baking up a storm at home.