A ride on wild side

A ride on wild side

Award-winning ecotours leader blazes trail for green Hong Kong


Ecotour guide Wong Hing-yuk in Nam Sang Wai, Yuen Long
Ecotour guide Wong Hing-yuk in Nam Sang Wai, Yuen Long
Photo: Edmond So/SCMP
Cycling around the beautiful, natural environment of Yuen Long, watching the sun set over the beach at Lau Fau Shan, it's easy to see why ecotour guide Wong Hing-yuk thinks he has one of the best jobs in Hong Kong.

Every weekend Wong, a group leader for the BiciLine Cycling Ecotourism Social Enterprise, brings sightseers to the western New Territories. As the name suggests, the enterprise, an initiative of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals charity, limits environmental impact by using bicycles instead of tour buses.

"I tell tourists about the plants, birds and animals we see," says Wong. "Hong Kong is an excellent place for bird watching, especially during winter when migrant birds come to stay. I love my job because I get to see nature up close every day."

However it's not all sunny skies on the eco-trail, and there are worries that some of the unique attractions of the wild will be lost. "One of the most popular destinations is Nam Sang Wai, which has an abundance of plants and birds. But I am not sure how much longer this peaceful scenery will last because developers have acquired the land and drawn up plans to build Spanish-style bungalows there.

"But in the long run I think there is a huge potential for ecotours by bicycle, because the government is planning to build more bicycle trails in Hong Kong."

Wong joined BiciLine after finishing his A-levels. He received 70 hours of classroom training and three months' practical training before qualifying to lead groups.

Conserving the environment is one of Wong's key messages. "I constantly remind tourists not to climb trees or pick leaves or flowers. One of the best ways to enjoy nature is by taking pictures. Tourists should not take anything else home."

But it's not just about being green. Timothy Ng Man-wai, a social worker and BiciLine team leader, says the social enterprise was founded in 2008 to provide employment opportunities for young people in Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai. It has now developed into a profitable business that gives back to the community.

"Helping the development of the economy in the district is one of our goals. We divide our income into three equal shares: one finances the operation of our office, one is for tour guides' salaries and the other share is to boost the district's economy. We make it a priority to host lunches during the tour at restaurants that are small businesses," he says.

The northern New Territories may not top your list of weekend hangouts, but maybe this group will convince you otherwise. BiciLine's efforts paid off when it won the "Rising Star Award" at the Social Enterprise Summit- Social Investment Forum in 2011, and was named "Most Devoted Go Green Organisation" at the Weekend Weekly Go Green Awards last year. They're obviously on the right track.

BiciLine ecotours cost HK$180-HK$330, food and bicycle included. A minimum of six is needed to form a tour.

To find out more about tours offered by BiciLine, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bicilinefans.

Here's a look at Hei's ride through Nam Sang Wai



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