4AM Cows: Camping Out in Tai Long Wan, Sai Kung

I’ve never been very good at accepting defeat. I’m completely neurotic, so not being able to do something tends to eat away at me until I get to where I want to be. Therefore, despite our failure to get out to Tai Long Wan on Saturday, I was resolved to drag Rich out and try again the next day.

Unfortunately, it was just as hot and humid on Sunday as it was Saturday, so I had to push my neurotic tendencies aside and accept the fact that we were going to have to take the short route out to Tai Long Wan. To make me feel better about taking the short route, Rich and I decided that we were going to push as hard as we could to get up the hill. We were still carrying about 7 kilos of rice and gear each, so going up wouldn’t be all that easy, and with the heat, I was expecting that it would take us a good 45 minutes to complete the hike. 45 minutes is the fastest that I had ever completed the climb and descent, and that had been with me sprinting down the hill, so 45 minutes with a pack seemed solid.

I guess we were feeling particularly motivated that day though. Maybe it was because we had shared the sampan ride with a group of really really loud Americans, or because I couldn’t stand listening to the blaring sounds of Canto pop emanating from the back pack of a local doing the hike, but we went for it. (I had never really given much thought about the stereotype of Americans and their lack of inside voices until then, but wow, they were loud. I would also now like to take a moment to apologize to my non-American friends for my own lack of volume control, I’m sorry that I always seem to be screaming. I will work on developing more vocal control.) Soaked in warm sweat we made it to the beach within 35 minutes. A massive record for me, and we didn’t even run all that much down the hill because the heat was eating away at me.

After picking up our tent from a storage shed associated with one of the “restaurants” on the Ham Tin side of the beach, we headed up and over the little hill that separated the Ham Tin and Tai Long Wan beaches. I was so happy to find that my favorite camping spot was still free. The spot is located at the top of the hill and away from the main traffic of people going between the two beaches. Since it was on the hill we were surrounded by bushes that blocked the wind, which could get really strong if you slept on the unprotected beach below, and we didn’t have to worry about the pegs constantly coming free of the ever shifting sand.

Rich and the view from our campsite
Rich and the view from our campsite

There was no surf that day, since the better winds come through between October and December, but we spent an amazing day tossing frisbees at each other in the still and surprisingly clear water. I felt I was back in Crete.

After a couple of hours of frolicking, the cows came. I have an odd fascination with the cows in Hong Kong. I mean, how did they get here and how is it that they’re allowed to just roam free, wherever they want? Does anyone own them? How are people not going around hunting and eating them? Why are they so calm around people? I have seen them sit down in the middle of a bustling street and block traffic and have no one do a thing but honk at them and wait for them to get out of the road. They almost look like massive dogs when they do that. Very cute.

After getting a few photos in myself, Rich and I watched in bemusement as a group of locals went careening after the cows, trying to take selfies with a bull or two.

That night was quite tough for us. Without the wind battering against the side of the tent, we were left battling the stifling heat, and had to take off the tent’s cover, so that a little bit of breeze would get through. We had to get up every few minutes to drink so that we could stay hydrated and keep our body temperatures down.

Even after we fell asleep we woke up a few times during the night. The first time was due to the ominous sound of a helicopter flying over head. I had only heard helicopters passing by that area at night a few times before. The first incident was due to injury, and the second time was because the surrounding park had caught fire. We didn’t notice anything wrong this time around so quickly hydrated and went back to sleep. I found out about two weeks later that the helicopter we heard was there because a woman went night swimming, and misjudging the water depth dove too sharply, fracturing her spine. She was really lucky, apparently was out of the hospital within a few days and didn’t suffer any paralyzation.

The second incident, was a bit more on the fun side for us. Rich and I woke up with a jolt around 4AM as we could hear the sound of grass getting ripped out of the soil right next to us. In my sleepy haze I was convinced that it was a bear and made Rich go look. He burst into laughter, of course sparking my curiosity, and low and behold, there were four cows up there with us. They had climbed up the hill, and paying us no attention were happily munching away at the grass surrounding our tent. I considered going out and playing with them, but noticing the cloud of mosquitos following them about I thought better of it and we just watched them for awhile, until sleep took hold of me once more.

We woke up a few hours later, cows gone, to my favorite sight in Hong Kong – sunrise over Tai Long Wan. I will miss this view and place more than I can say, but at least I got one last look at it.

Sunrise over Tai Long Wan



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