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Monday 23 August 2010

Floating Logs: A Walk to Remember

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Do you dare to walk on these primitively tied logs hanging almost 10 meters out to the sea?

So, do you think standing on this raft-like structure would make you feel like Gulliver or Tom Hanks in Castaway waiting for the next savage adventure? or would you find peace and inspiration by having your mind lost in the sea? I have done that. I thought it would be fun hopping around on the logs, but turned out….well, let’s just say I experienced something I didn’t expected before.

What happened before, then?

It is just one station to Sunny Bay from Tung Chung Station. Every time the train passes by Sunny Bay MTR Station, it shows an interesting scene of rows of giant lumbers, solemnly erected in the water. Kids in the train are bound to ask their parents what the wooden pillars are for.

Are they for Kung Fu fighting?
Did beavers build them?Can we go sit on the tree trunks and go fishing?

Thanks to my curiosity and the Internet, I found that there used to be a lumber factory along Sunny Bay, or formerly known as Yam O Bay, at Luk Keng Village ( literally translated to “deer’s neck” which, in my opinion, is a fitting description of the landscape). Legends has it that by soaking lumber in salty water or sea water would make it stronger and more resistant, therefore the stand-in-water-pillars. Yet, years ago, before the time of Disneyland, the factory moved and so were most villagers. The logs were left unattended and created this unique view. Luk Keng village is now mostly vacant except for the occasional fishermen and hikers. And for the lumbers? One by one they were knocked down by the cruel nature, one after one, they drifted away and lost in the open sea.

Besides the upright tree trunks, logs were tied to make simple piers for fishing boats, and together, they offer a fascinating combination of photo opportunity and fun that attracted many photography enthusiasts and bikers to the village in weekends.

And it attracted me as well.

It only takes 30 minutes to walk to Luk Keng Village from Sunny Bay MTR Station. And the direction is simple and straight forward as well, you just need to
1. Get out of Sunny Bay Station
2. Walk towards the sea to the coastal embankment

Luk Keng Village is right in front of you, across the bay

3. Turn left, and walk all the way along the coastline and yes, trains will pass you by, pretty closely.

planes will fly over your head too.

4. Keep to the coastline and turn right when the path parts.

This group of poles means you are almost at the village entrance.

Voila! Luk Ken Village here we come!

If you take the left path, it leads you to Switzerland, well, actually Tung Chung.

After walking in the sun for a while, the village will welcome you with cooling tree shade!

And some gorgeous flowers too.

Besides the flower-laden bushes and fruiting trees, I found some interesting mangrove trees lining the coastline as well.

I kept walking for another 10 minutes and sooner than I realized, I was greeted by the first and the most complex-looking wooden pier in the village.

It’s a weird looking, zigzag-shaped structure. About 8-10 meters out to the sea, there was a tiny hut built at the corner and it made two more turns, a few meters apart, towards the end.

The far end of the floating logs, the only way I could get a closer look was to zoom in with my camera.

Most of the logs were as thick as 30 cm in diameter and were tightly tied with wires and ropes, the buoyancy of the woods acting together could, of course, carry a grown-up with ease. Indeed, I have seen pictures of a group of hikers walking on the woods at the same time. I thought it would be as easy as walking on land.

One, two, three, step after step I carefully balanced myself on the giant logs and with a light jump, I landed on the second row of logs. But then, just when I was about to let down my guard to have fun, I felt the logs moving under my feet. Swinging back and forth, up and down, the “ground” wasn’t solid after all, I freaked out. Big Time!

Now I know it’s probably my imagination, but at that very moment, I felt the logs drifting apart as if the ropes couldn’t hold the “raft” together anymore. The wave, although weak, kept brushing, or even hitting, the logs. My legs started shaking and my knees went weak. I wanted to get back on land but I couldn’t figure out how to turn around. I told myself to calm down and that I was only a few meters out and even if I fell, the water wouldn’t be deep enough to ruin my cell phone in my pockets. Yes, that’s silly of me to be afraid of such shallow water. But I was REALLY scared but bit by bit, I managed to turn and walked back.

I breathed the biggest sigh of relief once I landed on the wet, soft sand. I sank a bit but the landing was so surprising firm and substantial. I looked back to the floating hut, realizing I could never gather enough courage to reach it, let alone the end of the pier.

Later, I asked some fishing teens I met there, they assured me it’s completely safe to walk on the logs as long as you were careful and brave enough. But, I could barely walk straight on a balance beam without falling in gym class, who am I kidding to even try moving swiftly on floating woods? I am hopeless for this thrilling stunt. If you think you can manage surfing, then it should be a piece of cake to you.

were these some sort of banana stems?

maybe I can take this boat and row to the tip of the wooden pier?

a hollow tree trunk washed up on the beach. Good material for raft-making?

This eye-catching orange hut marked the end of the small village.
Many hiker go beyond this point and circled around the coast of Cheung Sok and Yam Tsai Wan.

There used to be regular ferry service going to Tsuen Wan,
but now the pier’s mere function is to make fishing easier.

looking over Sunny Bay Station on the pier.
In the picture, it seems possible to just jump from poles to poles to reach the other side.

Anyway, relieved but somewhat embarrassed, I got back on the path and looked closer at the village, to distract myself from the unsuccessful exploration. Still, it is a walk to remember and a fun experience.


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