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Bride’s Pool: a tragic tale

Place names in Hong Kong often have poetic, almost legendary origins. Kowloon, the peninsula of ‘nine dragons’, actually has a backdrop of eight peaks, but the extra dragon denotes a Song emperor, who took refuge here with his entourage to escape the Mongol invasion.

One of the stories my father told me was that of Bride’s Pool, among many that he narrated on weekend drives to explore quiet reservoirs, abandoned wartime batteries and secluded beaches.

From the road curving high up on the slope we hear it, a consistent rhythm of water gushing through the trees. The path, strewn with fallen leaves and twigs, leads down a terraced barbecue site and into the thickly forested valley. We cross a rough concrete bridge, designed to mimic a set of wooden planks, before reaching a dead end by the river. “Can you see the falls?” My father asks. I shake my head. All I can make out are small pools and bubbling rapids, with no sign of the noise that seemed so prominent from the road.

My father steps forward, ducking beneath a tree branch hanging low over the riverbank. His words surprise me but it reveals a side of him that I had half-forgotten from my childhood. “Maybe we can trace the river from here.” The stones, worn smooth by the water currents, have been conveniently broken into step-like formations – a walk in the park when river levels are low.

Anticipation gives way to disappointment when we emerge into a clearing at the foot of the waterfall, its sound echoing off the valley walls. Weeks of dry weather had reduced the falls to almost a trickle, belying a tragedy that may or may not have unfolded here centuries ago.

Folk legend has it that a bride was passing by on her sedan chair in stormy weather when one of her porters slipped. The bride – along with the wedding sedan – tumbled into the swollen river, where she was washed down the waterfall and into the pool at its base. The unfortunate bride drowned in her heavy clothing, and from then on the pool was given its name in memory of her tragic fate.

Downstream to Plover Cove

Tracing the river

Bride’s Pool, after weeks of little rain

Dry season

Reflecting sky

Wild Hong Kong

Debris

Jungle stream

Mirror Pool, a short hike away

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. seriously i just know Hongkong have this kinna place. yeah i knew they had near ngong ping. but this haha no building between the green :p.

    November 7, 2012
    • True, Lantau – and Hong Kong in general – has plenty of wilderness areas. Unfortunately most visitors only stay within the confines of the urban area!

      November 7, 2012
      • yeah you are correct haha.. i am one of them (that visitors LOL)..

        November 13, 2012
  2. A few months ago I learned another side of Hong Kong I never knew before: the tranquil beaches. But yet, HK keeps surprising me. A pristine forest in one of the most densely populated places on earth? Definitely something I would have never imagined before. It makes me think, maybe there are places in Jakarta that I have no idea they exist.

    November 7, 2012
    • That’s one thing I love about Hong Kong – the fact that you can surround yourself in nature without going very far from the city. In most cases a car isn’t even necessary; a lot of these areas are well served by public transport. 🙂

      November 7, 2012
  3. My thoughts exactly! Would never have guessed this was HK from the photos! The falls and pool do look too benign for such a tragic history 🙂

    November 7, 2012
    • HK does have its surprises, especially once you make it out of Kowloon and the Island’s north shore!

      If the folk legend is true it must have happened during the rainy season. When I visited many years ago the falls were completely swollen; we could only view it from the hillside some distance away!

      November 8, 2012
  4. What a beautiful place! I’d LOVE to hike there! 🙂

    November 8, 2012
    • I know you would, Nicole – this place is a cakewalk compared to the Alps!

      November 8, 2012
  5. Beautiful mossy rocks and tree-strained light – gorgeous shots of the benign face of the treacherous falls. Great post James.

    November 9, 2012
    • Thank you, Meredith. 🙂

      November 9, 2012
  6. Absolutely Beautiful!! Such lovely pictures, thank you James!! 😀

    November 13, 2012
    • You’re welcome, Sophie. 😀

      November 14, 2012
  7. tra #

    Thanks for sharing! =)

    January 9, 2014
    • Thanks in turn for the comment. 🙂

      January 11, 2014

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