20 January 2020
A panoramic view of the Kowloon Peninsula from Lion Rock hilltop. Photo: HKEJ
A panoramic view of the Kowloon Peninsula from Lion Rock hilltop. Photo: HKEJ

Reminiscing about old Hong Kong at Lion Rock

Located between Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai, Lion Rock stands 495 meters high. Although it is not the?tallest hill in the city, it transcends peers in Hong Kong in terms of fame.

This is in large part due to the classic Canto pop song “Below the Lion Rock”, which was sung by Cantopop legend Roman Tam. It was a theme song of the TV soap opera bearing the same name that was first aired in the 1970s and explored the lives of working-class people in Hong Kong.

This crouching lion is not as unapproachable as the fierce animal. Sitting at the back of the city center, the mountain allows hikers to enjoy a panoramic view of the Kowloon Peninsula.

On a hiking trip there, I started from the back of Tin Ma Court, which was once part of the main road connecting New Territories residents from Sha Tin with Kowloon. The path used to stretch from Wang Tou Hom in mid-Kowloon to Keng Hau in Sha Tin.

Before the 1997 handover, Fung Yu Ting (風雨亭), or Rain Pavilion Shelter in English translation, which was first built by enthusiastic hikers in the 1970s, was the only pavilion in the area.

It took a lot of efforts to maintain the structure, but sadly it was destroyed by some teenagers 10 years after it was put up. It was only in 1983 that it was reconstructed at the current site.

Due to some wise moves, hikers can enjoy shelter today as the structure has been regularly strengthened over the years with recycled wood, iron pipes and plastic pipes.

Meanwhile, nearby is the Reunification Pavilion. As the name suggests, it is the other pavilion available since 1997.

Though the trail leading to Lion’s head is steep, it is worth going up. The higher hikers go, the more magnificent is the scenery, with fewer trees or branches in sight.

In days of good weather, the Kowloon Peninsula from Mei Fu Sun Chuen to Yau Tong, as well as Kennedy Town in the west till Shau Kei Wan in the east of Hong Kong Island across Victoria Harbor, can be seen vividly.

I couldn’t help recalling the old photos of Hong Kong. Kowloon was evolved from clusters of rural villages during pre-war period to a neighborhood of tong-laus, squatter settlements and labor-intensive factories after war.

Entering the 1960s, urban planning emerged where the government started building public housing estates and factory buildings.

Needless to say, as of today, Hong Kong has been taken up by large shopping malls, glassy commercial buildings and luxurious private residential skyscrapers.

We had enormous change in half a century. Who can tell what changes lie in store in the next decades to come?

Getting there:

To go to Tin Ma Court: Take green minibus 53M at Lok Fu MTR station to Tin Ma Court.

To return from Sha Tin Pass: Take KMB route 3M at Tsz Wan Shan (North) bus terminus to Choi Hung. Get off at Ngau Chi Wan Market and Cooked Food Centre stop and walk 2 minutes to Choi Hung MTR station.

Time: About two hours

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 15, 2014.

Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Lion’s head doesn’t look like one when you are so close to it. Rain Pavilion Shelter (R) on the mountain trail offers respite to hikers. Photo: HKEJ

HKEJ contributor