Thursday 28 June 2012

Chung Hom Kuk Beach

We went to the beach yesterday as the weather was so lovely. Or was it? I was going to meet a friend, who said "Why don't we take the kids outside as the weather's great?" I agreed, but later realised that almost everyone else I know would have said, "Eugh, it's too too hot, let's stay inside". Still not quite sure which is right.

We got minibus number 40 from Tang Lung Street (Lantern Street) near Times Square. It goes to Stnley, and we got off on Chung Hom Kuk Road, just before it turned down Cape Road. Then walked for about 5 minutes down the hill (i was already dreading the return) to a dead end road, and then followed the staircase down to the beach. There are about 150 steps and it was super hot and humid yesterday. Anyway, when you get down to sea level, there's a fantastic kids' playground there, totally empty. And also a couple of weird cone things, which are built around trees. Not sure what that is all about.

Looking back up where we came from 

Strange coney thing

The ugly cement path eventually opens out onto the most beautiful beach. There were only about 5 other people there when we arrived, plus some hot brave lifeguards. There's a little shop too, where I got to practise my budding Canto skills (although they did speak a little bit of English) that stocks loads of beach balls, floaty things, drinks and ice creams. I thought that the choice of drinks might be reflective of the clientele - alongside the usual Pocari Sweat, VLT and Bonaqua were bottles of Evian and Perrier (with a twist of lime, naturally).

Bit overcast


The shore is very clean, there are some larger bits of rubble and a few bits of broken glass at the tideline at the far end of the beach, beyond the swimming net, but otherwise it's really clean. The sea is shallow for a couple of metres, but then there's a bit of a drop off. It creates great (small) breakers which the boys loved jumping over, but I was a bit nervous of them going too far out as they didn't have their floaties on.

Sun's out!
Joshy staying hydrated

Tropical Paradise

There are clean, quite new showers there, also toilets (mostly squat) and there are some BBQ pits too. All the concrete around the shower block has tiny imprints in it of shells, starfish and other shapes. It's as if the people who were laying it just wanted to make it a bit different from all the other beaches. It's by no means perfect, but it's terribly pretty and makes it feel even more like a secret, treasured beach.

Gorgeous blue sky

The path down to the beach is totally clear, but the jungley stuff either side of it feels quite wild. We saw a big lizard (about 6 inches long), and huge spider and some unusual plants. There was one in particular that caught my eye, a sterculia lanceolata. It has bright red pods the size of small mangoes, some of which were open to reveal perfectly oval shiny black seeds. It was very striking. There were big stands of bamboo too, and some scruffy looking palms.

(Thanks to HK Herbarium for this photo)

Apparently these sterculia jobbies are found in feng shui woods.
Stepping into a fung shui wood, you enter a secluded and dark domain as most of the sunlight is blocked out by towering trees. This upperstory is called the tree stratum. In a mature fung shui wood, the canopy of the tree stratum is dense. The uppermost storey is made up of very tall trees like the Endospermum (Endospermum chinense) and Schima (Schima superba). Often growing to more than 20 m, the canopies of these trees are clearly visible from the outside of the wood, while inside the forest you can only see their trunks. The tree stratum also has smaller members, including the Lanced-leaved Sterculia (Sterculia lanceolata), Incense Tree (Aquilaria sinensis), Chekiang Machilus (Machilus chekiangensis) and Fleshy Nut Tree (Sarcosperma laurinum). On tree trunks, mosses and other climbers are common. Under the tree straum is a shrub stratum, dominated by plants like Wild Coffee (Psychotria asiatica) and Asiatic Ardisia (Ardisia quinquegona). Further down, the herbaceous stratum and ground stratum showcase a phalanx of ferns and herbaceous plants.

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