A leisurely hike to another of Hong Kong’s rocky curiosities
Amah Rock (望夫石), located close to Tai Wai on the New Territories side of the Lion Rock Tunnel, is another of Hong Kong’s geological curiosities with a story.
15 meters in height and named for its distinctive shape, it is said that Amah Rock is the woman-turned-boulder figure of a faithful wife, whose fisherman husband left for overseas in search of work one day and was never seen again. Day after day she would climb the hill with her son on her back, awaiting her husband’s return, gazing out towards the ocean which, unbeknown to her, had already claimed him.
Taken pity on by the Goddess of the Sea – or perhaps in guilt that she had allowed it to happen – the wife was turned into stone in reward for her faithfulness, in order that she could be reunited with her husband and stand as a symbol of loyalty and love that happy Hong Kongers could forever visit at weekends.
Amah Rock is actually part of the hills that form Lion Rock in Lion Rock Country Park to the southwest of Shatin. It’s Chinese name, Mong Fu Shek (望夫石), literally means Husband Gazing Stone, and it was formed, not by a guilty Goddess of the Sea, but by the effect of millions of years of weathering on a residual pillar which gave the rock its shape. But why let geology get in the way of a good story?
At around 250 meters above sea level, the walk up the hill to the base of Amah Rock isn’t particularly challenging as far as Hong Kong hikes go. From the barbeque area at the bottom of the steps, it takes around 30 minutes of moderately paced climbing to get up there. Once reached, Amah Rock gives excellent views of Shatin and the surrounding hills. Needle Hill can be seen to the northwest. So too can the hills of Kam Shan Country Park and the housing estates of Tai Wai below. While on a clear day Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak, can be seen in the distance.
The best place to view the rock itself is from the path that leads past it when you reach the top. Follow the path away from the rock until you reach a fenced opening in the undergrowth, and the rear view of the child-carrying woman – with the two distinct ‘heads’ and the child’s arms around the neck – can clearly be seen.
From Amah Rock, it is possible to join the path for the slightly more strenuous hike to the top of Lion Rock. According to the signpost, the 1.5km of steps take around an hour to climb, and while it probably shouldn’t take that long, the Lion Rock hike is certainly more taxing on the legs. On a clear day, however, it is one of the best views in Hong Kong. See my Lion Rock post for more details.
Wilson Trail Section 5
On the walk up to Amah Rock, you will cross section 5 of the Wilson Trail when you reach the top of the first set of steps from the barbeque area. Taking a left here will lead you around the mountain until you reach Tsz Wan Shan Kwun Yam Buddhist Temple and stage 4 of the Wilson Trail, stage 5 of the Maclehose Trail, at Shatin Pass Road.
Taking a right will send you on a monkey-riddled walk in the direction of Kam Shan Country Park, joining up with section 6 of the Wilson Trail at Tai Po Road. You can also reach Lion Rock this way too. Check out Google Maps to get a clearer idea.
How to get to Amah Rock
Amah Rock is most easily reached from the Lion Rock Tunnel Road entrance to Lion Rock Country Park. Taking the bus is the easiest option.
From Hong Kong Island (to Sha Tin)
Buses 170 and 182
From Tai Wai MTR (Exit B: Che Kung Miu Road)
Buses 81M, 85B, 86A, 87B. Get off just before you pass under the bridge (one or two stops). Alternatively, walk for 15 or 20 minutes and you’re there.