ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “waterfall


Day 9 (3 of 4).

After the morning walk to the Little Adam’s Peak and Nine Arches Bridge, we returned to Zion View Ella Green Retreat for a quick breakfast. The car came to Zion View Ella Green Retreat to pick us up right at 10:30.  We bid farewell to the two German shepherds and hopped on the car.  We left Ella behind and slowly descended from the hills.  Our next destination was Udawalawe, a small town between the hill country and the southern beaches.  The two hour drive from Ella to Udawalawe brought us from tea plantations and green hills to grasslands, marshes and forests, the home of diverse wildlife.  After world heritage historical sites and hills of tea plantations, our focus shifted once again to the natural treasure of Udawalawe National Park.

Established in 1972 as a sanctuary for wildlife displaced by the construction of Udawalawe Reservoir, the 30,821 hectares national park has become the third most visited park in the nation.  With an annual rainfall of 1,500mm, the park lies at the boundary between Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones.  Within the park, there are marshes, grasslands and forests.  Udawalawe is famous for its 250 or so Sri Lanka elephants. Other mammal species found in the park include Sri Lankan leopard, rusty-spotted cat, sloth bear,  Sri Lanka sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, wild boar, water buffalo, jackal, civet, monkey, mongoose, etc.  The park is also a good venue for bird watching, and so as reptiles including lizards, crocodiles, and snakes.

01Passing the Rawana Ella Falls on the Wellawaya Ella Kumbalwela Highway signified our departure from Ella.

03The more we get closer to Udawalawe, the higher the chance we might see wildlife along the highway.

02Domestic water buffalo are kept for their milk (curd and ghee) and rice cultivation.

04Sri Lankan elephant is undoubtedly the superstar in Udawalawe, and can often be seen along the road.

05Elephants are highly intelligent animals.  According to our driver, some of the curious males have learnt to approach the highway fence regularly to greet tourists in exchange for easy treats like bananas.

06Roadside stores near Udawalawe offer visitors a convenient stop for fruits, and perhaps have indirectly encouraged the unnatural habit of the highway approaching elephants.

08Despite the popularity of the national park, the town of Udawalawe is relatively tourist-free.  There is hardly any tourist souvenir shops along the main road.

09Bakery tuk tuk is quite common across the country.  As soon as we heard the music of Beethoven’s Fur Elise, we knew one of these mobile bread vendors must be nearby.

07Our guesthouse Green View Safari Resort was at a side street across the road from R/Emb/Udawalawa Primary School.

10Hidden from the dusty main road, our guesthouse for the night Green View Safari Resort was a simple little retreat.

11Facility was clean and simple.  The guesthouse owners arranged both the afternoon and morning safari for us.

12Dinner and breakfast were included in our one-night stay at Green View Safari Resort.

13To reach the national park from Udawalawe, our jeep would pass by Udawalawe Reservoir, a place of potential wildlife sighting before reaching the park entrance.

14Locals came to the dam to catch the sunset.

15The Udawalawe Dam separates the lush green forest on one side and the peaceful reservoir on the other.

16 The Udawalawe Dam provides a high ground to watch the distant scenery.

17The lush green forest revealed what the area might have look like before the construction of the reservoir.

18Local wildlife has adapted to the man-made environment of Udawalawe Reservoir.  The water has even attracted wildlife including birds and elephants.

19Beyond the reservoir, we finally arrived at the ticket office of Udawalawe National Park.

20We chose Udawalawe National Park over Yala National Park was an attempt to avoid overcrowding.  During our first safari visit, the entry route into the park was loaded with tourist 4×4 vehicles.  Luckily, as we ventured deeper into the park, we would have the park pretty much by ourselves.


THE BYGONE SILVER COUNTRY, Mui Wo (梅窩), Lantau Island (大嶼山), Hong Kong

Prior to the opening of Tsing Ma Bridge in 1997 and the MTR Lantau Line in 1998, the busy ferry pier of Mui Wo (梅窩) was one of the only two gateways to Lantau Island (大嶼山) from the city centre.  Before the establishment of Disneyland, Tian Tan Buddha, and Ngong Ping tourist area on the island, the resort hotels and bike rental shops at Mui Wo’s Silvermine Beach (銀礦灣) offered one of the island’s most popular getaway experience during weekends.  Those days were long gone.  Today, the MTR brings most Lantau visitors to the new town of Tung Chung (東涌).  In comparison, Mui Wo is much more laid back and sparsely populated.  In fact, for hundreds of years Mui Wo had always been an isolated rural area until 1950 when the pier was established, receiving first boats from Cheung Chau (長洲) and then soon from Central (中環).  Today, Mui Wo has returned to its peaceful old self, and its charm lies exactly in its sleepy ambience.

Sandwiched between the foot of Sunset Peak (大東山) to the west and Silvermine Beach to the east, the area of Mui Wo hosts half a dozen or so rural villages.  Near the village of Pak Ngan Heung (白銀鄉), or White Silver Country, few tourists would venture this far inland from the beach and pier to visit the Silvermine Waterfalls and the nearby Silvermine Cave, where silver mining operated briefly from 1886 to 1898.  South of Mui Wo, a narrow seaside trail connects to another sleep rural area at Chi Ma Wan (芝麻灣).  A short hike westwards from Chi Ma Wan would take visitors to the popular beach of Pui O (貝澳), where visitors of all ages come and dig into the wet sand in search of edible clams.  Seeing bucket after bucket of clams have been taken in one Saturday afternoon made me wonder if there would be any left for the next weekend.

DSC_0037From Mui Wo town centre, a footbridge leads visitors into the farming villages at the foot of Sunset Peak.  A small shrine dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, is set up right by the bridge.

DSC_0047Organic farming in Mui Wo have been gaining popularity in recent years.

DSC_0048Many farms in the area, like this one in Luk Tei Tong (鹿地塘), are small in scale and offer prearranged interpretative tours or family activities.

DSC_0056On our way into Luk Tei Tong (鹿地塘), a small cat greeted us at the village’s entrance.

DSC_0064Another delightful feature at the path leading to Luk Tei Tong (鹿地塘) was a row of vivid flags.

DSC_0068Back against the lush green slope of Sunset Peak (大東山), Luk Tei Tong (鹿地塘) is a quiet farming village with a dramatic setting.

DSC_0072Originally there were six guard towers in the area of Mui Wo.  Today only two remain intact and standing.  Built in the early 1940’s, the Luk Tei Tong Guard Tower (鹿地塘更樓) is one of them.  In the old days, these guard towers were used to defend against pirates.

DSC_0082Chinese New Year has just past.  Celebratory banners still remain on the doors and walls of village homes.

DSC_0073Despite prohibited by law, the loud noise of firecrackers can still be heard in some rural areas in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year.

DSC_0074Other than traditional firecrackers, modern ornaments and lights are also used to decorate the small courtyard in front of a ancestral hall in Luk Tei Tong (鹿地塘).

DSC_0080Somehow these colourful incandescent bulbs in Luk Tei Tong (鹿地塘) reveal a sense of nostalgia.

DSC_0084From Heading north from Luk Tei Tong (鹿地塘), we soon reached the Mui Wo Primary School.  Founded in 1939, the Mui Wo Primary School is located in the village of Tai Tei Tong (大地塘).  Throughout the years, the school had gone through a few phases of expansion.

DSC_0099Continued north from Tai Tei Tong (大地塘) would lead to Pak Ngan Heung (白銀鄉), or White Silver Country, the village close to the former silver mine.

DSC_0107 Just a few minutes walk from Pak Ngan Heung (白銀鄉) leads to Silvermine Waterfall (銀鑛瀑布), a natural feature popular with visitors.

DSC_0122The once busy Silvermine Bay Beach has became relatively quiet as visitors to Mui Wo declined significantly after the opening of Tsing Ma Bridge and MTR Lantau Line.

DSC_0130The Silvermine Bay Resort Hotel has became a collective memory for many.

DSC_0171Silver River (銀河) flows through the central area of Mui Wo and enters the sea at Silvermine Bay.

DSC_2081Walking along the coastal trail from Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road would bring one to Chi Ma Wan (芝麻灣), a serene coastal area south of Mui Wo.

DSC_2085During the hike, I was the only visitor on the trail, except the flying crows.

DSC_2088Feral buffalo is a common sight on Lantau Island.

DSC_2098Walking inland westwards from Chi Ma Wan, one would arrive in the old village of Shap Long(十塱)

DSC_2104There is hardly any other visitos in Chi Ma Wan (芝麻灣)

DSC_2113Before reaching Pui O (貝澳), the path wind along a series of curving slopes.

DSC_2116At the beach of Pui O (貝澳), some enjoy swimming in the sea, while others are busy digging the sand for clams.

DSC_2117Pui O Beach was shaped by the water of South China Sea and the river streams.

DSC_2122The persistent clam diggers dig the sand of Pui O till the last twilight fades.

DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China

Just a short walk from the incredible Five Flower Lake came the next highlight of Jiuzhaigou, the Pearl Shoals Waterfall (珍珠灘瀑布).  We approached the falls from its upper level, where shallow water flowed on a vast area of rocky shoals.  We followed the path to a 40m cliff where the Pearl Shoals Waterfall finally revealed its side to us.  A large group of spectators concentrated on the stair adjacent to the fall.  We slowly walked down to the bottom of the fall to admire its 160m length.  The water flow wasn’t thundering, but the sheer scale of the waterfall was impressive and could be enjoy from a number of viewpoints.  Matched perfectly with the surrounding landscape, Pearl Shoals Waterfall looked surprisingly peaceful despite its scale.

We followed the stream water of Pearl Shoals Waterfall eastwards to another tranquil water body, Mirror Lake (鏡海).  The turquoise water and autumn foliage at Mirror Lake provided a peaceful break from the excitement of Pearl Shoals Waterfall.  A brief sun break gave us a moment of warmth as we leisurely stroll along the lake.  The distant snow-capped mountain finally revealed itself behind the clouds.  Under the sun, the colours of the autumn foliage appeared more vividly, casting colourful reflections on the lake surface.  We walked the full length of Mirror Lake from west to east, crossed the road where shuttle buses ran, and walked down a stair to another prominent waterfall, the Nuorilang Waterfall (諾日朗瀑布).  Roughly 32m in length, “Nuorilang” in Tibetan means “grand and magnificent”.   It was already 1:30pm when we reached Nuorilanf Waterfall.  We didn’t stay for long at Nuorilang and decided to embark on the journey up the other section of the Park, Zechawa Valley at the left branch of the “Y”.

dsc_9253Shallow water ran over the rocky shoals, like a plain of flowing water.

dsc_9268Shrubs and rocks dotted over Pearl Shoals.

dsc_9266The water gradually ran down the shoal to the cliff edge and eventually became the Pearl Shoals Waterfall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPearl Shoals Waterfall as seen from the stair adjacent to the falls.

dsc_9321The sky was clearing up and we could see the snow mountains beyond the waterfall.

dsc_9342At the base of Pearl Shoal Waterfall, water streamed down the rocky landscape into a series of small waterfalls.

dsc_9350Watching hundreds of small streams running down the cliff of Pearl Shoals was a pleasant experience despite the crowds around us.

dsc_9352Looking back to the Pearl Shoals Waterfall as we slowly walked across the shore.

dsc_9387All streams of the waterfall running down the cliff converged into a small river flowing away.

dsc_9415As we walked away from the main Pearl Shoals Waterfall, series of small waterfalls continued to run down the cliff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASilence returned as we left Pearl Shoals Waterfall behind and reached the Mirror Lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sun finally came out and we could enjoy some moments of warmth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite the autumn foliage hadn’t reach its peak, we still enjoyed taking photos of the occasional red and yellow leaves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJiuzhaigou National Park is actually surrounded by snow-capped mountains.  Brief moments of sun breaks allowed us to have a few glimpses of the magnificent peaks.

dsc_9481It was a delightful walk along Mirror Lake under the sun.

dsc_9491It wasn’t long until we reached the end of the boardwalk along Mirror Lake.

dsc_9553Not far from Mirror Lake, we arrived at another feature waterfall in Jiuzhaigou, Nuorilang Waterfall.

dsc_9557The myriad small streams down the cliff of Nuorilang formed a perfect setting for a atmospheric landscape painting.


Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China

Day 8 – KUMANO NACHI TAISHA, Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) 1 of 2, Japan

After we dropped off our bags at the train station of Kii Katsuura, we took a local bus up to Nachisan, where we would visit the famous Kumano Nachi Taisha, Seiganto-ji Temple and Nachi Waterfall.  We arrived at Daimon-zaka, part of the old cobblestone pilgrim steps that leads up to the sacred Kumano Nachi Taisha, just before noontime. Flanked by old Japanese cedar trees and bamboo groves, the atmospheric Daimon-zaka was the last stretch of the old Kumano Kodo we hiked. We walked on the Daimon-zaka for about half an hour before reaching the main uphill path that leads up to the temple site.

After some more steps and uphill paths, we found ourselves reaching the red torii gate of Kumano Nachi Taisha. The temple ground was packed with tourists, both local and foreign, all were drawn to here by the orange coloured shrine structures, and the iconic three-storey pagoda. The pagoda is part of Seiganto-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple that shares the same site of Kumano Nachi Taisha for centuries. On the way walking to the pagoda, we passed by the most popular vista of Nachi Taisha: the orange pagoda in front of Nachi Waterfall (Nachi no Taki), the tallest waterfall in Japan at 133m. From the pagoda, it was another short hike to the base of the waterfall, where a small shrine and a viewing platform stood.

We then took a bus back to Kii Katsuura.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACenturies old Japanese cedar lined up along the path of Daimon-zaka.

02Along Daimon-zaka, small shrines and bamboo groves added a layer of mystical atmosphere.

03The stones of Daimon-zaka had witnessed centuries of pilgrims in and out of Nachisan.

04The orange torii of Nachi Taisha.

05The shrine structure in the complex of Nachi Taisha.

06A main structure in the taisha complex.

07Little device for worshipers to make their wishes.

08Small wooden plagues for worshipers to write down their wishes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeiganto-ji Temple, the Buddhist temple adjacent to the Kumano Nachi Taisha.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStatue of a monk in front of Seiganto-ji Temple.

11The iconic pagoda behind Seiganto-ji, with Nachi Waterfall in the background.

12At 133m Nachi no Taki is the tallest waterfall in Japan.

13Wild flowers and bamboo groves along the way to the base of the waterfall.

14A small shrine at the base of Nachi no Taki.

* * *

Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino 
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka