Saturday 22 September 2012

Hiking Dongchong Beach to Xichong Beach: Testing my strength

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Pretty good view, right? This is on the Dapeng Peninsula outside the city of Shenzhen. And this is what greeted us as we crested the first hill after we began our journey from Dongchong to Xichong beach.  Little did I know that I would want to die a thousand deaths before finishing the 4 hour hike.

Mile 0 - Dongchong Village
At one time there was a bridge here ... it seems to have washed away within the last few months

Before I begin, let me tell you that, yes, I would do the hike again. But this time I would be more prepared for what was to come. This journey was grueling, but gorgeous. The scenery was literally breathtaking (and not just because I was heaving my body up the side of a cliff). It's what you expect the Chinese seaside to look like - rugged, but refined, somehow it just fit.  Unfortunately, after about 2.5 hours in I had reached my limit. I was cursing up and down wishing the slog could be over. I was overheated, exhausted, and tired of jumping from boulder to boulder with an exuberant Chinese person nipping at my heels the whole way.

Xichong to Dongchong

Trust me, I know how disgruntled I sound right there. And truth be told, I totally was at the time.  The trek was a few times more demanding than expected and being on the coast we were constantly exposed to the elements for the last 3 hours, which is not awesome when it’s 40 degrees outside, and you are required to scale a cliff with nothing but a thin rope and a few sketchy rock holds for your feet/other hand.

It was also a bit like Disney World in July - crawling with people.  Not only did we arrive with our own group of 30, but we were unfortunate enough to catch up with, and somehow maintain pace with, a tour/school/work group of about 200. It's a well trodden trail, but it's often narrow and quite perilous to the point of dangerous in many place (let's just say, this trail would not be open in Canada), which can be quite difficult to navigate with such a large crowd.  But despite all that, when we finally reached Xichong beach several hours later, I was exhausted but exhilarated. As I rested my body in a mixture of sea and sand, I was able to realize how awesome the experience really was.

Not for the faint of heart, this hike is tough. But if you're up for the challenge, it's also very worth it.  Every so often I would look up and out of my heat stroked eyes and get that realization of being just one little human in a gigantic world. The mountains rolled and layered themselves on top of one another and it became an endless sea of forested peaks. On the other side, the pacific stretched out, craggy but calm - true peace.

On a practical note: From our neck of the woods in Shenzhen, Dapeng peninsula should take about 1.5 - 2 hours to reach (if you're interested in getting there by public transit, check out this blog: Where the hell is Rory?).

UPDATE: You can also stay at Xichong beach by renting a cabin, or bringing a tent and staking a claim on the sand.  Xichong is beautiful mixture of white sand and emerald sea.  We spent a weekend here and it was like being transported to another land altogether. If you have the time, stay awhile and enjoy.

I can see the end! Just one the other side of the bay....
In a week from now Other Half and I will be in Sumatra, Indonesia hiking with some Orangutans, so you know, I'm pretty freaking excited about that.  And we may have skyped with our cat last night, so despite that setting me on the track for crazy cat lady, who probably also carries them around in 100 bags, things are going pretty well here on the mainland. Until next time!


  1. I went here too and loved it, but I got here through an organized tour. I'd like to go on my own. Can you tell us how to get here from the city center?

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