Hong Kong, April 2019: Lok Fu Park, situated on the Northern edge of Kowloon City and its where the old checkerboard is sited. So, what is the old Checkerboard? Well, in the old days, about 22 years ago infact, pilots flying into Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport needed a visual aid – the checkerboard pattern painted on a hillside. If the Checkerboard wasn’t in the pilots vision by the time they had reached a determined position over Kowloon then the landing had to be aborted since the runway would also not be in safe visual range. Back then, hundreds of plane enthusiasts from across the globe made a beeline for Hong Kong’s Checkerboard Hill to marvel at the last minute sharp turn pilots had to make to line up with the runway, or risk slamming into the hill! There’s plenty of youtube content on the subject, just search Kai Tak checkerboard hill.
Today, nature has almost reclaimed the west facing checkerboard while the west south-west facing checkerboard is still largely intact if somewhat faded. So, the checkerboard Hill is a place for some to reminisce the glorious days of aviation and for others, well, its just a fabulous view point, well away from any crowds!
West Facing Checkerboard, reclaimed by nature.
Remnants of the West south-west Checkerboard
Whats left of the old Kai Tak Airport? well, as you can no doubt see, nothing! Redevelopment is underway with the addition of a highway and Metro station just about where the terminal buildings used to be. The Kai Tak name will live on however with the new MTR station named in honour of Mr. Kai and Mr. Tak.
Old Kai Tak Airport, – left were Cargo ramps, Middle was the terminal buildings and right, the old runway.
Eventually the Kai Tak skyline will be obscured with skyscrapers, and with the impending redevelopment of Kowloon city centre, a scene that will be gone forever. The rooftop car park seen below was another famous spot where people gathered to see the low flying planes turn to land – the Kowloon Mall. Just to the left of the Kowloon Mall was the infamous Kowloon Walled City where if one was adventurous enough, could get a rooftop view there! That was all torn down in 1993.
Views from the Checkerboard ledge will take in a wide panorama across Kowloon and towards Hong Kong Island. Behind and one can not miss the Lion Rock mountain!
How to reach the Checkerboard at Lok Fu Park: From the Lok Fu MTR turn right towards the Lion Rock. After walking for about 7 minutes, Lok Fu Park entrance is on the left. Walk 10 minutes uphill, all the way to the top! Once at the top of the park having walked up the official road, one will now have to take the unofficial track. Opposite the public toilet block is the entrance to a track, right beside a high security fence. Just follow this fence pretty much all the way to the checkerboard. Negotiate boulders and fallen trees, but its worth the effort when one finally gets to where the old equipment housing once stood.
And here’s how nature has reclaimed the Checkerboard Hill, Lok Fu Park, Hong Kong.