Tai Po is my usual “base of operations” when I’m in Hong Kong. It’s a good 19 km away from Central Hong Kong as the crow flies. By a direct double-decker bus, it’s about an hour’s bus ride in good traffic.
In North American terms, you can think of Tai Po as a suburb (if there is such a thing in Asia). It’s not as busy or crazy as Kowloon and the north side of Hong Kong Island. However, there are plenty of shops and services that would allow people to never leave the neighbourhood if they didn’t want to.
Being further out of the central core of Hong Kong affords Tai Po to have more space for nature. The Lam Tsuen River runs through the centre of the district. Here, we can find cranes and fish along the banks of the river. The river connects the residences and shops of Tai Po to the waterfront along Tolo Harbour.
My sister, mother-in-law, and I decided to spend this New Year’s Eve on the slow side of things and go for a walk along the river. The river looked really muddy and yellow today. I’m not sure if it’s always this way. It was a nice, relaxing way to spend a slow day in Hong Kong. Yes, it is possible to have slower days in Hong Kong.
It’s also amazing how one can find such beautiful blooming flowers in December in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is subtropical, after all. So I guess it’s not totally unexpected. The orchids growing near the river added some colour on this sunny day.
I should note that Hong Kong in December is rather cold. Don’t let the temperature fool you. Lows of 10 C actually felt colder than 10 C back home in Canada. The wind really got to me at times and I don’t think I brought enough layers for my trip. So this sunny New Year’s Eve brought a welcoming warmth to warm my bones.
The half-hour walk alongside the Lam Tsuen River brought us to the Tai Po Waterfront Park that overlooks Tolo Harbour. The primary attraction within the park is the Spiral Lookout Tower. It was built to commemorate Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997. At night, the tower is lit-up along its spiral. When we return to Tai Po at night, we can see the tower from the highway across the harbour. My sister thought it was a giant Christmas tree.
This part of Hong Kong can be so idyllic. The water is quiet and there are few people around. If you look closely, there’s a crane perched on the prow of the boat above.
However, being Hong Kong, civilization is not far away. As we found out, the whole Waterfront Park is dotted with free WiFi provided by the Hong Kong government. That was perfect for my sister and I who had to touch base with family back home since the midday in Hong Kong meant it was the evening back in Vancouver.