Climbing the Dragon’s Back

One of my favourite adventures during my trip to Hong Kong had to be a hike called the Dragon’s Back. This duration of this hike depends on two factors: how fast you walk and how many pictures you take.

IF you’re the traveller who needs to capture every angle in their photos (me) I’d give it 3.5 hours, BUT it can be done in up to 2.5 if you move quickly.

What I find amazing about Hong Kong is that it’s city centre of impressively tall buildings is surrounded by mountains that not only offer a calm escape, but also incredible views.

The Dragon’s Back hike is well known. You can find reviews on TripAdvisor, that may suggest you book a tour or take a bus. And you can also learn more about the trail from LonelyPlanet, but if you’d like an inexpensive method, tried and true by yours truly, keep reading.

My friend Adalia and I woke up early one morning, grabbed the freshest take out sushi I have ever had, and headed to MTR station Chai Wan, located on the end of the Island line. Like many countries in South Asia, transportation cards for the subway, buses and street cars, can be purchased and reloaded at 7-11 locations; they take convenience store to a whole new level over here.

So if you’re visiting, grab an Octopus Card, it will definitely be worth your while!

Next I recommend taking Exit A from Chai Wan MTR station, where you will walk through a mall. Keep to the right and exit at the first outdoor walkway, also located on your right. Take the outdoor walk way and continue straight, perhaps 2 minutes, until you find a set of stairs to take you down.

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Once you reach the bottom, walk across the street towards Wan Tsui Road, you should see the sign no problem.

Next walk straight on Wan Tsui for approximately 200 metres

Then take a left on Lin Shing Road. After turning left you have an incline walk, for roughly 350 metres. Once you reach the top of a small hill you’ll find an intersection and see the entrance for the Cape Collinson Catholic Cemetery across from you.

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This sounds strange, and at first looks strange, but go through the entrance and walk up the first set of stairs towards your left.

Again it’s a tad odd, and you’ll think “Are these really the right stairs?” “Am I being punked?” But they are, and you’re not. Once you’re there you can’t miss them!

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Continue straight up these stairs, up to the very top, until you are out of the cemetery and into the nature! This part of the climb is steep so take your time, use the railing, and remember: the view IS worth it.

Keep walking up the steps until you come to a clearing. To your right you should see the wooden sign pictured here, walk towards the direction of Tam Tam Gap.

From here on out it’s essentially a straight shot! Just follow the road to the trail, which will eventually head left, and don’t stress, sign posts will indicate the way.

The first bit of the trail is shaded, and not much of an incline so it’s really nice. It is a bit rocky so make sure to watch your step.

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Next you will see a sign indicating the Dragons Back! It might be a little tricky to see at first so be on the look out for a point where the path diverges. Follow that sign and start walking up towards the left. And then keep walking. And then walk some more…

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Right about now is when you can start to get really excited because at this point you are CLOSE. If the sign’s aren’t enough, you should be able to gage it from the amount of sweat on your body, gotta love that Hong Kong humidity. 

Here I wasn’t even at the top of the peak and I was literally speechless!

Once we reached the summit, we not only felt super accomplished, but we were blown away by the scenery. On a good day, you can clearly see the nearby Shek-o Beach, as well as the area of Hong Kong called Stanley behind you.

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Instead of going back the way you came from, I suggest you continue down the other side of the Dragon’s Back for some more amazing viewage. This direction is towards Shek-O Village, where you can have amazing Thai food and relax by the beach.

Once you’re back on flat ground, take a left out of the trail and wait for the #9 bus on the left side of the road to Shek-o Village! After Shek-O you can take the #9 back to the original MTR station you came from.

This hike has inspired me to attempt to climb Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 located near Jinguashi in northern Taiwan. This trail is much more difficult than Elephant Mountain, located in Taipei. Unlike the city views of Elephant Mountain, (20 minutes to climb), Teapot Mountain (4-5 hours to climb) lies in the heart of the wilderness on the northern coast, boasting views of the Pacific Ocean and even involving rock climbing at points.

Okay, so it’s ambitious, but after the Dragon’s Back I feel ready to tame another mountain!

Happy Hiking Friends! 

Dragon’s Back Route

More Hong Kong Hikes

To Infinity and Beyond at Wanli

The date was September 24, 2016. It was a Saturday, but not your average sleep in, watch Netflix, and run some errands kind of Saturday.

After persuading my roommate Greg to join me, I was starting to get nervous as I lay awake in bed. The hour was 8: 45 AM, and it was time for me to get ready.

After throwing on some athletic gear and making a quick breakfast we were out the door and on our way to our high flying adventure.

We met a large group of fellow adrenaline seekers at the Taipei Main Bus Station’s Terminal A to take Kuo-Kuang bus 1815.

Our destination? Wanli, New Taipei. Our mission? To run off a cliff, float 200 feet in the air, and capture some amazing views.

The bus to Wanli took approximately 40 minutes, and to me it felt even faster as I thought more and more about what I was about to do. But believe me there was no way I was going to let myself back out (I told too many of my friends, I’d never live it down).

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When we arrived at our destination we got off the 1815 bus and shuttle vans promptly picked us up to take us up the mountain to the take off sight!

Five minutes later at the top we suited up in our paragliding harnesses, and helmets!

Naturally, I chose a Hello Kitty one.

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We worked with members of Mustang Paragliding Club that day and they were amazing! They made you laugh and feel calm, were very organized, and even gave you a selfie stick and a go-pro to use during your flight! Afterwards the 8G micro SD card was yours to keep, who doesn’t love free micro SD cards?! 

This shuttle service, provided by the Mustang Club, was organized by an organization called Taiwan Adventure Outings and they were responsible for this flawless event!

They purchased our bus tickets ahead of time so all we had to do was get on the bus and pay them there. They negotiated a group price for us that was extremely reasonable at $1,500 NTD or a little less than $65 CAD.

If you’re in Taiwan and are looking to do some adrenaline or nature based trips, Dustin and Ryan at Taiwan Adventure Outings are your guys! Check out their fan page and even look up their group on Facebook to see the paragliding and many other awesome trips they hold each weekend!

My paragliding experience was 6 minutes of pure bliss. There was no time for serious nerves as the take off happened so quickly that once I got in the air I was just so happy to be up there!

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Looking straight I saw the beautiful blue water of the Pacific Ocean, behind me were lush green mountains, and below there was a town that appeared to be micro-sized. The sky was so clear you could see for miles, once I was in the air I really did not want the flight to end.

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My guide was extremely kind and really fun to float with, during the flight he had us going in circles, going up and down, and I loved every second of it! To catch a short video of my amazing experience, check out my latest Instagram: @careolinadoidge or my Facebook page !

I can’t even describe how happy I am that I went through with paragliding. This experience proved to be a reminder that sometimes you just gotta suck up some courage and go for it!

Its common to complain about feeling bored or too comfortable in our routines. I think its important to think about what we can do to change that, it can start with something small and simple, or be something more drastic. For me the important thing was all about stepping outside my comfort zone and pushing myself to do something I wouldn’t normally do.

 Lululemon advocates it, and going forward I’m going to try and abide by it. Do something this week that scares you or pushes you, and afterwards see how you feel.

 

OH and in case you want to get back to Taipei Main Station: Catch the 1815 Bus!

Here’s the schedule and listed stops: http://www.taiwanbus.tw/information.aspx?Lang=En&Line=8236

 

Dusk at Elephant Mountain

As a girl from a small town surrounded by Lake Huron, I have seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets. However perhaps one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen took place from my view at Elephant Mountain, just about a 15 minute walk from the famous Taipei 101.

DCIM107GOPROElephant Mountain is the most famous of the Four Beast Mountain collection, which also includes Tiger, Leopard, and Lion Mountains.

There are actually two more mountains on this trail system called Nangang Shan and Jiuwu Peak that rise behind the beasts. Elephant  Mt. happens to be the part of the trail that links all these together.

Not only is this view of the city spectacular, it is also easily accessible by a 20 minute walk up the mountain (not to mention its free!!) The path to this glorious sight is made of stairs that are well maintained and include a railing so although steep, its not too difficult if you just go at your own pace.

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Although it will likely be busy the best time to go is during the late afternoon around 5-5:30 PM so that you can catch the sunset in Taipei, which currently occurs approximately 20 minutes after 6 PM (double check with your best pal Google). If you want to see the city landscape in daylight light, go earlier!

To get there by MRT, take the Red line 2 to its terminus, Xiangshan Station. You will be instructed to get off the Subway around the Da’an stop, but fear not, another car will be along shortly to take you to the end of the line, simply step off and wait for it.

Once you arrive at Xiangshan, take exit 2 out of the station and continue walking straight. You will notice a park and basketball courts to your left as you walk. Follow the signs for Xiangshan Hiking Trail and you won’t have any problems! When you reach the end of the road, walk across the street before you take a left, and follow both the fellow hikers and the corresponding signs. After a short distance turn right and soon you will have arrived at the base of the Xiangshan Hiking Trail.

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Take a swig of water, tie up those laces and prepare to be amazed.

You will come to a point on the trail where there is a picture taking pavilion. Although crowded there’s an unwritten code, people take their pictures and then move out of the way so that others may do the same. Be patient and you too will have your turn!

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To get the TRUE  birds eye view continue UP the path for not much longer and you will proceed to be amazed at how much of the city is visible.

In the backdrop you see mountains. In the foreground you see the impressive infrastructure of Taipei. Look right, left, and backwards; you will see greenery and perfect picture taking boulders to stand on.

Take pictures, take video, and then a deep breath and savour this moment because it really is so so breathtakingly beautiful.

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Once you take it all in I suggest walking back down to the pavilion area to get a great shot of the city lights after dusk. I guarantee you’ll be thinking about this scene the entire walk down, if not for the rest of the night. Did I mention you can see all this for free??

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To get a similar shot, have your camera ready between 6:30-7 PM, focus on the right side of your view and afterward use some good ole Instagram editing to really make the colours of that sky pop!

Wondering where this information came from? See for yourself! 

Elephant Mountain

https://guidetotaipei.com/visit/elephant-mountain-%E8%B1%A1%E5%B1%B1-xiangshan

Taipei Metro
 
The Four Beast Mountains
 
Xiangshan Taipei