Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hong Kong Wetlands

Today as an antidote for yesterday's combination of drinking and yelling 'queef!' at innocent bystanders, my fiancee and I went to the Hong Kong Wetlands park.

From Central this is a real odyssey, involving changing MTR lines, then getting on the West Light Rail when you're almost far enough north to wave at China, and then a bit of a walk from the station to the park entrance. Or you could just get on the 967 bus that goes straight from Pacific Place all the way to the Wetlands.

The park is pretty big, although there's a wooden boardwalk to take you round, always a few feet above the ground, rather than trudging through knee-deep mud all day long. The path weaves through thickets of vegetation and over the water, veering off to lookouts and points of interest as it does so.

There are three or four hides where you can stand inside and look out at the birds but, because there was a gang of Chinese tourists on a day out/training for a shouting competition, all the birds stay quite a long way away. This despite signs in English and Chinese asking you to be quiet: either everyone is illiterate or just plain rude.

Luckily I'd brought my big lens with me, so I could get some nice shots of the herons and other wading birds that were avoiding humanity as best they could.

There's also a walkway above a muddy riverbed, populated by fiddler crabs and mudskippers. I've only ever seen these two animals together: do they enjoy a symbiotic relationship? Mudskippers eat algae and I've never seen a fiddler crab eating a mudskipper: mybe they're paid to entertain the mudskippers with tiny violin music.

If you don't like nature only existing in shades of brown and grey, there's also a butterfly area not far away, where we got to see lots of Tiger butterflies and lots more people with enormous zoom lenses photographing them.

All in all, a leisurely walk around the wetlands takes about two hours (more if you insist on staring at Pui Pui, the indolent park alligator, who never seems to do anything.) As long as you stagger your movements around the park and remain ahead or behind of the crowd of continuously shouting tourists, it's really calm and peaceful, and it's only 30 dollars to enter (and another twenty dollars either way on the bus), so it certainly qualifies as something to do in Hong Kong when you're strapped for cash, or just tired of spending all day in an air-conditioned mall, buying stuff.


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