So after talking in my last post about the confines of central Hong Kong and the constant hustle and bustle of its streets, we decided to take about a half an hour taxi ride out of the city and towards the coast for a brief respite. That being said, there was no respite from the ridiculous heat, which if anything seemed to be even more intense (nice sea breeze there most definitely was not.)
The initial idea was to check out the waterfall and cliffs at Sheung Luk Falls that we had seen so many pictures of leading up to the trip. However, given the state of Hong Kong traffic (unrelenting for the unititiated) and the fact that we wanted to catch the sunrise, it would probably have meant heading off from our hotel the night before. So in lieu of that a friend suggested that we head to Shek-O instead, a beachside village on the South Eastern part of Hong Kong island not far from the well known Big Wave Bay. And after looking up some photos of the incredible rock formations and caves they had there (as well as of course the rather pristine beach) we were more than happy to take his advice.
It actually took a lot less time to get there than we had initially planned and so we ended up arriving just as the first rays of sunlight pierced through the clouds, lending this rather eerie feeling to an already deserted beach (this desertion was short lived mind you...) For me one of the highlights of the beach was in fact the lifeguard look out posts which rather reminded me of my teenage years watching the OC but to save any further embarrassment I won't dwell any further on this point. Just check out the photos after all this blurb and those who know will know...
What also really impressed me was the evident care and effort that was taken to preserve the beaches and keep them as pristine as possible. Even at such an early hour in the day there were a number of beach cleaners making their way up and down the sand and removing any litter in sight. In fact at that point in time I would proffer that there were actually more cleaners than beach-goers which seemed a strange sight. That is until the hoards descended. And oh boy did they descend.
It turns out that it was in fact a national holiday on the day we decided to visit, and apparently what the entire nation likes to do on such a day is to head to Shek-O. It was actually quite interesting to see just how many Hong Kongers (is that a word?) were readily keen on lying prostrate and catching some rays. Having lived in Taipei for a while, where the majority of people would seek the sanctuary of shelter or at least an umbrella at the first sight of sun - lest their white skin were to go any shade other than porcelain - it was quite a marked difference to see how keen the Shek-O visitors were on a tan.
By this point we were already up on the rocks though, and given the other visitors' reluctance to do any climbing, we still managed to find relative sanctuary. As you can just about make it in the third image below, there were also a series of caves surrounding the inlet that we were super keen to explore, but a combination of the by now unbearable heat and the constant suspecting stares of the lifeguard on duty put paid to that idea on this occasion. No matter though, as I know I'll be back soon enough to do more exploring. Preferably in the Autumn next time.