Wartime stoves - two more areas found
Tally for the outing: one cooking area in good condition, one partial, and a python.
Python? The walk started with a warning sign: a python had been seen in the area and I should look after my dog and small children. No dog, and the girls were at school, but it added a bit of excitement to the day. I planned to make use of the cool weather and go for a stomp around the undergrowth in the valley behind Quarry Bay. Pythons beware!
I was looking for more of the wartime cooking areas that were built around there.
First destination was the broad concrete water channel that runs up the middle of the valley. A 1949 aerial photo shows there were one, maybe two of the cooking areas quite close to the channel.
The first site was a long shot, as the photo showed a flat area, but no sign of any stoves. It wasn't hard to get to, but the only sign of any construction was a solitary brick. I crossed this one off the list.
Back to the water channel, and further along I climbed up to where Area F should be. Bingo!
Thus one isn't marked on the countryside series map, but it's in just as good condition as the two (Areas C and E) that are.
Here's something I hadn't noticed before:
See the squares? There used to be re-inforced concrete posts laid out in a grid across the cooking area. So originally I think there's have been a roof across the area - canvas maybe? That would also explain the larger posts we saw in the corners of Area C:
The last site I was looking for, Area G, wasn't near any of today's hiking trails. But the aerial photo showed it was quite near one of the smaller concrete water channels. Today they are overgrown and hidden from above, but still easy to find on maps and on the ground.
I set off along the channel, then headed uphill at what I guessed was about the right place. This wall was the first sign I was in the right area:
Above that was a large flat platform about the right shape and size for a cooking area. I stepped on a few more of those bricks, and thought that was all I'd get. But then at the back I found a few stoves that were still mostly complete:
I was so busy looking for stoves that I didn't pay attention to those boxes - perhaps just a passing 'tsk' at the people who'd leave rubbish in the country park. But a little voice in the back of my head was wondering why the mozzies were so much louder around here. Eventually it clicked that someone had recycled the boxes and was using them as bee hives! Time to beat a hasty retreat....
I found a path leading out, and turned a corner to find a surprise. A man sat at a table, looking just like he was sat at home in his living room. Perfectly friendly, and keen to tell me someone was raising bees in the area, and would I like to see them?
I asked what he was doing out here, and he answered that he was studying chinese medicine. As far as I could tell he was cutting pictures of good looking ladies out of the local weekly magazines!
That was the last point of note. Next it was back onto the main trail, mission accomplished for the day.
As far as I can tell, that's all the areas accounted for. Please see the previous articles about Hong Kong's shelter areas, and the other stoves around Quarry Bay for what little history we've found about them so far.
PS Imaginary pythons gave me several jumps as I was clambering around in the undergrowth, but there was no sign of any real one.