Monday, 12 February 2018

serendipity #2

Having discovered a more interesting (and safer) route between the end of the heart of darkness and the beginning of long tall sally entirely by accident, as I described in Serendipity #1, and because I’m always looking for opportunities to get off-road, I couldn’t help but scan the right-hand side of the road as I cycled south along Ma Tso Lung Road. It took about 400 metres after emerging onto this road (‘1’ on the map below) before I spotted this:

An alleyway this wide (‘2’ on the map below) has to lead somewhere, but where?

Notice the streetlight on the left in the next photo. That is always a good clue:

The next photo also contains a streetlight, but the point to note here is that there’s a T-junction (and a decision) coming up:

This is the right-hand option, although I checked out the left-hand option first. It was a dead end!

The next photo shows a modern, three-storey village house, which must have taken a lot of work to build, given that all the concrete will have had to have been barrowed in from Ma Tso Lung Road. The entrance gate is quite grandiose for this kind of location, although of course it doesn’t qualify for inclusion in the gates of delirium.

You will notice that the path is becoming narrower and slightly more broken:

The next photo is a good illustration of the sort of challenges that you have to deal with when exploring this kind of terrain. I initially took the right-hand option, for no better reason than it was the straight-on choice. Unfortunately, it came to a dead end within about 15 metres.

Usually, when this happens, I dismount, tip the bike up on its end, spin it through 180 degrees, get back on and retreat. However, this was an exceptionally narrow alleyway, and I ended up with my waist bag snagged on the wire fence behind me, while the knobbles on my front tyre prevented my front wheel sliding across the wire mesh fence in front of me.

Of course, I did manage to free myself eventually, but I should have turned left:

The next photo was taken from a point where there is a viable left turn, but I always take the long way round if I think it’s more interesting:

And it certainly is more interesting! You do need to have confidence in your brakes as you make the left turn in the second photo though:

…and to make sure that you don’t try to ride down the steps!

The rest of the path, which leads to Po Lau Road (second ‘2’ on map), is straightforward:

It may not be obvious from the photo, but the path just before it emerges onto Po Lau Road zigzags to the left then back right:

The first time I came this way, having checked that turning right led to a dead end, I simply followed Po Lau Road to its junction with Ho Sheung Heung Road. It was a Sunday, so there was little industrial traffic, but I realized that cycling 400 metres along this road during the week was a potentially dangerous option.

Fortunately, there is another way, which I might have spotted if I hadn’t originally turned right on Po Lau Road:

The start of this road is right next to where the path emerges onto Po Lau Road, and it leads directly to the start of long tall sally (‘L’ on the above map):

I’ve yet to encounter any traffic on this road, probably because there are no industrial premises—the fence on the right encloses land above the MTR rail line to Lok Ma Chau, except in the final photo, where it delineates the edge of a large nullah. The road is also mostly downhill, so you can take it at a decent speed. And if you think that finding a quiet road leading directly to the start of long tall sally was an outrageous coincidence, wait until you read Serendipity #3.

As is usual with Google Maps, almost the only roads are those with names. The rest are narrow alleyways. Perhaps the most egregious misrepresentation occurs at the ‘1’ on Ho Sheung Heung Road, where the ‘road’ to the southeast is actually the heart of darkness, while what I assume represents an alleyway across the road to the northwest is actually significantly wider (I described it in Serendipity #1, so you can compare the two).


  1. ​Next time, you may toss a coin to search for your luck when encountering any diversion without a clear road sign.

    1. Are you kidding? Have you ever tried tossing a coin while riding a bike?


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