Abseiling and zip-line novice Callum Wiggins jumps off a cliff.
Tung Lung Chau is a mecca for people who like to scale walls. Whether climbing up, down, sideways or jumping between them, there is no better location in Hong Kong. And now there’s a new way to join the thrill-seekers: abseiling and zip-lining on our very own adventure island.
I don’t have great memories of climbing. When I was 10 years old, I went on a school trip to an artificial climbing wall. What should have been a character-building experience learning to abseil turned to disaster. Leaning backwards over a precipice, tightly gripping a rope, I was paralysed by fear. I could not, would not move. Eventually, I was hauled back to the top and had to take the stairs back down.
Fast-forward to now, I decide to set things right and sign up for an abseiling and zip-lining experience with Klook, a new booking platform for travel activities and experiences in Hong Kong and around the region.
Weekends see rock climbing and adventure-sports enthusiasts packing onto the ferry to Tung Lung Chau from Sam Ka Tsuen pier. The route operates only a few times a day at weekends and public holidays, there are no scheduled ferries during weekdays.
After disembarking, our guide leads the Klook group on a short hike from the pier up to the main rock faces, picking up necessary safety equipment on route: harnesses, helmets and safety ropes.
At the top of the abseiling cliff, expert instructors provide a short demonstration and ensure all the harnesses and ropes are attached correctly. The technique involves leaning back over the cliff with legs extended and the soles of your feet against the rock face, and allowing the harness and safety ropes to take your weight. Adopting an almost sitting position and continually feeding the rope through one hand allows you to descend while keeping your other arm outstretched for balance and to prevent you from hitting the rock face. The harness and safety rope controls the speed of descent even if you start to lose control.
Leaning over the edge for the first time is nerve-racking, but friendly encouragement from fellow participants and the exhilaration of the abseil keep my nerves (mostly) at bay. My descent is steady rather than spectacular, but soon my feet reach the ground and I complete the 30m abseil faster than expected. With a rush of confidence and a helpful buzz of adrenaline, I find the next few descents much more enjoyable.
Time to zip line. A 40-metre wire is suspended across a gorge between two cliffs, 30m above the crashing waves. On a platform of rock jutting from the cliff, an instructor waits to attach your harness to the zip line. Carefully edging along the platform, I have a good view of the ocean and jagged rocks below. A few deep breaths, a final tug on the safety rope (just to make sure), and I jump…
While the plunge over the edge and whizz across the wire to the other side takes only seconds, the adrenaline rush lasts much longer. I race back to the start of the zip line and fling myself off the edge without a second thought.
Abseiling and zip-lining is $480 a head for two to three goes on each and participants must be at least 14 years old.