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Trailwalking in Hong Kong

This weekend my wife and I went to Hong Kong, I had some business to take care of and it was a good opportunity to meet with friends and do some shopping (for Qi) and sports (for me). On Saturday I had planned to go for an off-road mountain bike ride with Marcel Ekkel on Lantau Island. But because I first had an appointment in Central in the morning there was not sufficient time to catch the 9:30 fast ferry, and the next one would be a slow one at 10:30. Therefore Marcel proposed to go for a run / hike in the mountains on Hong Kong Island around lunch time. A great idea, because also on Hong Kong Island nature is beautiful and there are some spectacular trails. Most people don’t realize how beautiful Hong Kong is, and it amazes me that you only meet a few people on the trails close to the city.

So I took the MTR to North Point where we met up. North Point is a good starting point for many trails, and it’s very easy to reach from the city. We decided to take a taxi to Parkview first, and then start with a trail that is shared by the Hong Kong Trail (stage 5) and the Wilson Trail (section 2). According to HK’s country and marine parks authority this section is ‘very difficult’, but it was not too bad. A bit steep at times, but even though parts of the trail were a bit slippery it would not call it difficult. We started off slowly, but after Jardine’s lookout I decided to try to run up the next hill. I underestimated the height though, and halfway I had to get back into an easier pace in order to catch my breath.
The trail here was great, even though it was quite windy and we were hiking in the clouds most of the time. Without the clouds the views are fantastic (for some pictures of this section on a sunny day, see here). At the top of Mount Butler we had a drink and then continued down to a picnic area. This was the end of stage 5, but we had only hiked for 45-50 minutes or so, so we decided to hike another trail. This one had some great views over Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour (despite the foggy weather). After about 2 hours we decided that it was time for a coffee and we jogged down the mountain back to North Point. A great work-out, thanks Marcel! I actually have quite some muscle ache now, but ex-marine Marcel is in much better shape because he did not feel a thing the next morning…

While writing this down, I realize once again that this is something I really miss in Shanghai. There is just no way to get out of this city without first driving for hours. I love outdoor sports, but in this urban jungle the only thing that comes close is running up the Sheshan hill – where you need to pay RMB 50 just to run up for a couple of minutes. So there is probably only one solution (next to moving, which I do not intend to do), and that is flying to Hong Kong more often on the weekend. It’s only a 2 hour flight, but including the rides to and from the airport and the waiting for the plane to leave it is a 6-hour trip door-to-door. That makes 12-hours of travelling in one weekend, actually a bit too much to justify for just a good hike…

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