Exploring the Borderland of Hong Kong

On one January weekend, Hayley and I decided to have a date. There was no gourmet food in a fancy restaurant, no romantic films in a cinema. Instead we headed up to Sha Tau Kok – the most northern part of Hong Kong, and right at the border to China – for a hike and a lovely picnic.

This was a place less travelled and we were not entirely sure what was challenges were waiting for us, expect a few alleged lead mines that were left derelict.

The area we were roaming at were known as the Frontier Closed Area before 2012, meaning that people cannot go into these border zone without special permission from the police. Since 2012, 1,800 acres of land had their restriction removed by phases, allowing people to roam freely.

The minibus dropped us of at the checkpoint of the Frontier Closed Area. This is only less than several hundred meters from the border to China. Behind is the checkpoint for entering the village and on another junction nearby is an international border crossing.

Hong Kong & China – A world apart either side of the border

After we got dropped off by the minibus at the checkpoint, we headed off to one of the local villages outside the restricted zone and heading up the hills nearby. Little did we know the route we were pretty much bushwhack, in which we hiked along muddy paths and had to navigate through overgrown bushes.

As we got onto the mountain ridges, we saw some impressive views that was a world apart. On the Hong Kong side, it was the old rice terrace. That is something that we had never seen in this country. This reminded us our honeymoon in Laos.

Rice terrace – something that we saw for the first time in Hong Kong. Since this area used to a restricted zone, people weren’t allow to build anything. In a sense, it helped preserve the landscape and the villagers’ way of life.

On the Chinese side, it was totally built up like any typical cities in China. We were able to hear all the honking from the traffics, or what we would call the ‘Sound of Asia’.

This picture was taken on the same spot as the previous photo but at the opposite direction. As you can see over the tree lines, that was the custom checkpoint for all the vehicles entering China.

As we hiked further up the hills, we came across a look out tower and a fence line for protecting the border. To us, it felt really strange to be hiking around here. It almost felt like we were some naughty kids sneaking across the border. In a sense, it gave us a glimpse what refugees might have faced in the ’50s and ’60s. These people risked getting shot by the Chinese army so that they could escape to a free world from the harsh life under the communism.

This is one of the border look out and fence line on the Hong Kong side.



The Forbidden Forest & Its Secret History

As we walked further up the mountain, we came across an old & look out derelict look out post left by the British army. The building was pretty much smashed out except the reinforce concrete structure. I know some local hiking blogs talked about it, but I never figured where that would be from the map, as none of these significant landmarks were even marked on the map that I bought last year!

Secret military outlook left behinds by the good old Brits


One of a pillar boxes left derelict and empty. Apart from that, there were even old army living quarters and animal traps nearby also left behind by the British army.


More Bushwhacking…

Apart from the old trails left by the British army, there aren’t any proper trails in this area. The only way out is to bushwhack out the way (that means going through the overgrown woods and shrubs). Thankfully, the previous people who explored the area left many way points in the area by tying ribbons on the bush. Even then it was very easily to get lost in this place. At one point, we took a wrong turn and ended up near a impassible river bed and we were literately covering ground by hanging onto vines like a Trazan. We thought that didn’t look right and decided to trace back our steps until to the turning where we thought we made. Fortunately, we made it back onto the trail.

Yes, we were up there and we managed to trek down this hill. It felt like we were hiking in Scotland with the moorland type / grouse like territories


Hayley the navigator


A beautiful view of the Starling Inlet. There were plenty of fish farms set up by the local villagers.

Despite the fact that we didn’t manage to find the alleged lead mines, what a fun day out we had!

Have you explore a borderland of Hong Kong or those of other countries on foot before? What was your experience?




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