From Dragon's Back to Tai Long Wan and Shek O

2 Feb 2014

It's the third day of the Chinese New Year.  The sun was high up.  We opt to hiking at the Dragon's Back on the Hong Kong Island, between Shau Kei Wan and Shek O.  To reach it, take bus no. 9 from Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus and get off at To Tei Wan, Shek O Road.  Cross the street.  You will see the signage of Dragon's Back. Distance is 8.5km up to Tai Long Wan.  Time 3 hours without rest.  Difficulty: 3 out of 5 stars.

The beginning of the path is mostly ascending.  Soon you will get a view of Stanley, Redhill Peninsula.  It is very beautiful.  Continue up and you will see Shek O.  It is gorgeous! Up to the peak is a pavillion.  There you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding. 


Tai Long Wan
The path close to Tai Long Wan is dotted with stores for drinks and instant noodle.  We had our drinks at a store facing the beach.  Another upward climb: go to the left side of the beach and ascend the path.  You will see a momument of rock carving, fantastic views of the beach and landscape.  It worths the effort though the climb seems endless.

Shek O
You can walk from Tai Long Wan to Shek O. Most of the path is shared by public transport.  Shek O Golf Club is along the way.  Have a glimpse of the rich's paradise.   Shek O is a peninsula.  Nice houses are around.  Walking till the end of the town is a beach.  Big waves there.  From there you can walk to the closest island through a bridge and go upward for a superb view of the surrondings.


To go back to the city, take bus no. 9 to Shau Kei Wan and go further with bus or underground.


Siem Reap -Tonle Sap The Floating Village

13 Feb 2014

We visited Preah Ko, Bakong and Lolei in the morning.   Our driver, James, took us through villages of red soil on the ground.  The slight rain protected us from the dirt as it minimised the splashed soil.  The journey was a bit long, around 40 minutes.  Then we stopped by a place for the tickets of touring Tonale Sap.  The offer was much off from that stated in our guidebook.   We bargained, refused, frustrated and almost wanted to give up.  We ended up paying around US$35 for both of us.  James did not help us to lower the price.  We suspected that the more we paid the more commission he would get.

Our tuk tuk went further after the payment office.  We had our private boat and were taken to the river, passing the part where most of the people reside - floating village.  Sometimes we saw scattered houses and the other time houses clustered in the central area.  Houses are made of straw, wood and they stand high from the water.  February is a dry period.  So, we could see the structure between the land and house clearly.  Imagine if we come at the high summer, we will only see the part above the water.

Tonale Sap is not only a residence but spot for making life.  Fishing and tourism are the most popular.  People there use the water for everything.

We were then taken to a spot, like a transit place.  Prices of the floating restaurants were extremely high.  We had an option of taking a small boat to tour around the tranquil part of Tonale Sap.  It costs around USD12.  Many boats were waiting for business but not sure how big the fraction they would receive.

Our boat was served by a woman with her two children.  She came with a sampan.  Her little girl always stick to her whilst the elder boy stayed with my friend at the back.  He made a lot of gestures to get attention.   The journey was nice and entertaining.  The part of passing through the mangrove forest was enchanting and soothing.  We were told that there might be alligator after the trip.  Unawared risks!!!

The last part of the boat trip was to sail to the big part of Tonale Sap.  It looked like an ocean but it's a lake. Unbelievable!  It is the biggest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia.



Neak Pean

Neak Pean is an unusually small monument, a cruciform arrangement of ponds with a sanctuary tower on a circular island in the middle.  Its position in the middle of Jayatataka boray (formerly an island) may represent the sacred Himalayan lake of Anavatapta.

The cirrcular island in the middle is encircled at its base by two nage serpents.  They seem to represent the naga kings Nanda and Upananda, from which the monument name means 'entwined sepents'.

On the east side of the island, a statue of a flying house rises from the water.  It represents Balaha who helped seafaring merchants from an island inhabited by an ogress.

For me, the nicest of the visit is the path leading to the monument.   Wooden path over the lakes, winter tree branches dotted the way transcended a melancholic atmosphere.  The scenery is unique among all sites we visited at the Angkor Archaeological Park.