zebra in ngrogoro
zebra in ngrogoro
  • Hiking Hong Kong
    • 16/02/2018
Next stop Hong Kong, just for a contrast i thought i'd check out one of the worlds most renowned high rise cities.
What i did not appreciate (until i started researching) is that Hong Kong is more than just the city, it has loads of national parkland, mountains and beaches, spread across four? islands.
The mixture of chinese daily life and the remnants of british administration is fascinating, with UK road signs on streets lined with dried seafood stores, bakeries and dim sum restaurants.
A 1920's tramride (20p fare along whole route) got me to the Happy Valley racetrack, an impressive horse racing arena where every wednesday, drunken expats and chinese alike fill in reams of paper betting slips.
The remaining colonial era buildings are dwarfed by the high rise of modern steel and glass skyscrapers, but more numerous are the concrete blocks of flats which seem crazily tall in relation to their footprint, and are unwavouringly covered on the outside with aircon units, satellite dishs and laundry hanging out to dry 36 stories up.
One of the most famous tourist attractions in the city is Victoria Peak, with a 360 outlook over the island. Most tourists take the colonial funicular railway to the top, but the queue was crazy so i walked up, past crumbling mansions whose views of the harbour have been obscured by high rises.
Also noticing that the entire hill side is reinforced and punctuated by identifying markers - a reminder of how many tragic landslips there have been here.

Kowloon
Next day i took the Star Ferry across the harbour to Kowloon, and wandered around the flower market, bird market, the famous Chung King "Mansions", eat cheap noodles, take the crowded subway and be one of two people over 6 foot tall.
Last stop of the day was to hike up to Lion Rock, the mirror image lookout spot to Victoria Peak, but unfashionable and empty. The views would have been great if not for some low cloud.
Descending after sunset down a step track with monkeys chattering in the undergrowth around me.

Lantau
Packing in the sights and the hikes, next day i said farewell to my luxurious hotel, stocked up on bread and cheese and took the ferry to Lantau Island.
Landing in Discovery Bay immediately felt a world apart, with bicycles being the only form of transport to navigate most of the settlement. Then the climbing began, to the top of 869m Sunset Peak.
Unfortunately once again, haze obscured the views at the top, but great walk none the less. On the way up i nearly trod on a snake, which turned out to be a non deadly lookalike, and then emerged on to a ridge covered in military training huts, with an army helicopter buzzing about.
Finally as darkness fell i tiredly descended a seemingly endless staircase to reach a quaint and remarkably un-busy YHA youth hostel.
Another early start in the morning to beat the crowds to the Great Big Gigantic Golden Buddha statue, which is pretty big and dominates the landscape. Also on site, the hall of a thousand golden buddhas.
Now i'm not a religious expert, but i would have though buddhism especially is about inner reflection rather than building gaudy monuments, but i guess the tourist dollars keep the monks filled with noodles.
Quick bus trip to Tai O, a fishing village with houses built on stilts above the coastline, and then ferry (past the enormous new 40 mile bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau)+train+ferry to the next island - Lamma.

Lamma
Lamma island hosts Hong Kong's power station, fish farms, and out of sight of both, empty beaches and tiny villages, traditionally populated by fishermen who have vetoed any development.
The whole island is navigated by a few concreted paths about 6 foot wide, so again the only tranport is bicycles, plus a few quad bike type things.
There are no hotels but i was able to stay in an AirBNB, with a zimbabwean/south african family who had moved here for a fresh start, working for an NGO.
It felt bizarre being in such a quiet and tranquil place, yet only half an hour boat ride from a metropolis.
That brought me to my last day - well, my flight home was at 7am, too early to be worth staying anywhere before heading to the airport, so i hiked back across the island, took some last photos of HK sights, rode the mid level escalators, watched the nightly "symphony of lights" (somewhat underwhelming) where all the skyscrapers LED advert boards coordinate to music for 20 minutes, and then headed to the airport to find somewhere to sleep. zzz

Flying back via Abu Dhabi was interesting to see the man made islands and crazy skyscrapers from the air, but i can't think of a less appealing place to spend a holiday!


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