Monday, May 26, 2014

A haven in Hong Kong. Confucius says: "Anyone can find the switch after the lights are on.”

I only wanted to stay a few days in Hong Kong to get ready for my journey through China to begin but I had such a great host that it made it difficult to leave. Phil even woke up around 5am on his day off to help me carry all my luggage down to the China Hong Kong ferry terminal and sent me off with a bag to carry my panniers in as a gift and some Chinese RMB to get my travel started. Hong Kong is not a place I am immediately drawn to, but it does have its charm, as Phil said, he never really felt the desire to travel much in China because he already had his taste of it in Hong Kong. Phil was a reservoir of knowledge and had collected brochures and travel books from vagabonds passing through his place before my arrival - more equipped than any hotel I'd say - and he even provided hand drawn maps with important landmarks that tourist maps always fail to include such as "pink building" on the corner or "past the foodbridge" or "McDonalds". His maps were so good, in fact, that I don't think I ever got lost in Hong Kong.

I did busy myself planning a rough route through China and reflecting on and dissecting other people's blogs. I spent a lot of my time doing the things I made no time to do in Melbourne, all that last minute stuff that never came to fruition at home. I also attended a couchsurfing meeting in Kowloon and met a few nice characters I later got in touch with. Kan had recently moved to Hong Kong from Belgium, his parents were Hong Kongers so he had come back to rediscover his roots. Together we hiked part of the MacLehose trail (stage 2 if I remember correctly). The MacLehose trail is a popular route to walk the Oxfam trailwalker because in full it runs for 100km. I didn't enjoy all the hikes in Hong Kong being on paved footpaths. It took away from the closeness to nature you feel by getting your feet amongst the textured footpaths...and I was wearing my cycling shoes with metal cleats on the bottom. Kan was a handy traveller to have with me indeed, speaking fluent english and cantonese. In the evening we wandered about for over an hour but eventually tracked down a vegetarian restaurant. 

I was constantly surprised by how much nature there was in Hong Kong. Most of the population were concentrated on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, and many of the other islands are a world away from the chaos of Hong Kong streets. I recall someone telling me that there is nothing natural in Hong Kong, that there is no living species (aside from homosapiens) - no birds, insects or otherwise. But I found a surprising amount of natural life, including monkeys, birds, and a plethora of insects that enjoyed gnawing on my skin day after day. 

While I was in Hong Kong, I also explored Lamma Island and Lantau island. I rode my bike around Lantau island, aiming to get to the Big Buddha, but witin 20km, I had climbed 1000m. There was one more climb before reaching the Big Buddha and I ran out of daylight so I decided to leave it for next time. My philosophy is never to see all you want to see in a country ot you will have no excuse for returning. And so I left Victoria Peak, the Harbour Lights and the Big Buddha for next time.

On Lantau Island

An abandoned building on the Maclehose trail

Along the Maclehose trail

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