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Feel nature's embrace in Hong Kong with yogi Ngai Chau Kei

South China Morning Post
  • Written by South China Morning Post

Feel the trails of Hong Kong underfoot and let them tell their own story: from stone-paved ancestral paths in use for centuries to eroded dirt routes leading up every hill of note and forest trails carpeted with leaf litter. Find out in our interview how yoga guru Ngai Chau-kei stays connected to nature and the elements, and scroll down for hikes and sailings taking in small islands and big views.

Ngai Chau-kei is no stranger to feeling grounded. It should come as no surprise that the 2013 International Yoga Sports Federation Champion understands the importance of feeling connected to nature and to the elements.

“Yoga is about connection. It focuses on internal awareness and it connects you to your breath and to your surroundings,” Ngai explains. She had just finished demonstrating a variety of yoga poses, also known as asanas, at Kang Lau Shek on Tung Ping Chau to a crowd of hikers, fishermen and day trippers who had boarded the 1.5-hour ferry from Ma Liu Shui Pier to come to this hidden gem for the day.

Under the blazing summer sun and against the crashing of the waves, the ease and elegance with which Ngai moved barefoot atop the rocks was mesmerising. The yogi chose to go shoeless so she could truly feel the earth, one toe at a time.

When you go barefoot, you can feel the texture of the rocks, the texture of the grass.

“It teaches you to appreciate the grass and the earth more,” she says.

While asanas — especially those such as tree pose and mountain pose — are grounding in their name and in their posture, the art of having them flow into one another requires freedom, creativity and an openness. Ngai is the perfect embodiment of them all.

Not only is she a social media influencer boasting a beautifully curated Instagram feed with over 75,000 followers, she also dabbles in photography and other creative outlets. From the moment we stepped off the ferry and immersed ourselves in the island, Ngai was admiring the view and quickly found her camera to capture the memories. Without a doubt, she said, she will bring friends back so they too can experience it.

Double Haven

Our day trip was the first time Ngai had ventured to Tung Ping Chau. Serendipitously, Ngai discovered the island a month ago, while watching television. It quickly made its way onto her bucket list of places to visit in Hong Kong. “I like to go off the beaten track,” says Ngai. She was referring to her favourite routes around Hong Kong and also what she loved most about the walk around Tung Ping Chau, an island which is made up of sedimentary rocks naturally eroded by wind and waves. Another off-the-beaten-track route which came to mind was Sunset Peak on Lantau Island.

“There is a sense of freedom,” says Ngai in the “rawness” of these natural wonders. The ‘raw’, as Ngai describes, beauty of the island is evident in photos, but it is even more apparent when you are there to experience it in person. While the reflection of the sun against the clear blue sea and the striking shades of burnt orange, beiges and browns from the island’s shale rocks can be shown in pictures and video, the feeling of dipping your toes into the icy water and caressing the smooth wave-carved rocks is something which simply cannot be translated through pictures or words alone.

Indeed, there are many natural wonders around the island. A rough three-hour 5 km hike will take you to many of the marvels of Tung Ping Chau. Besides Kang Lau Shek and the rock pools, other rock formations include A Ma Wan, Lung Lok Shui and Cham Keng Chau; each a natural wonder of its own and each formed naturally from the action of ceaseless erosion.

As our day trip came to a close, Ngai’s smile is contagious. “My feet are happy,” she says brightly. “I am happy.”

Leave the city behind and Hong Kong feels surprisingly wild, full of varied topography and diverse plant and animal species. The bland features of a concrete pavement or wide tarmac road belie the true Hong Kong. Let the trails underfoot tell their own story: from stone-paved ancestral paths in use for centuries to eroded dirt routes leading up every hill of note and forest trails carpeted with leaf litter. Hong Kong has more than 200 islands and many of the smaller ones have a wonderfully remote feel. Ride out on a scheduled ferry, or book your own if needed, and you quickly sense a rising excitement — in a place renowned for its cityscape, nature’s own skyline still holds the power to thrill.

Recommended explorations

Sunset Peak

Sunset Peak is Hong Kong’s third highest mountain, and very accessible to hikers. The views and flora are stunning while you can also feel the sea of grass brushing against your legs.


Ung Kong and Ninepin Groups of islands

Ung Kong and Ninepin Groups of islands

Explore the stunning volcanic rock formations in the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark with a boat tour.

Information in this article is subject to change without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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