Hong Kong is wild and crazy and busy and metropolitan. Until you go around the corner and then it’s not. This city has taken me by surprise even after just being here for two hours. I got to the hostel, dropped my bags, laced up my bright pink sneaks, and headed out the door. After a hop onto the 2 HKD Star Ferry, a trip across the river from Kowloon to Hong Kong island, and then a meander around some of the busy streets, I found the paved trail up the mountain. Within half an hour, I was in the trees. And it was glorious. Oh nature, how I had missed you.
I knew I was far enough away from the city when A) the sidewalk disappeared, B) the houses became absolutely massive and looked like somewhere the Kardashian family would live, C) I couldn’t hear Chinese people screaming at each other and at their phones, and D) I was surrounded by palm trees and nature and flowers and ohhh pretty.
The trail to Victoria Peak was not marked. I didn’t really know where exactly I was going. But I knew I was going up, and my 22 years of English language learning allowed me to make the assumption that Victoria Peak meant up and therefore the pain and suffering I was feeling hauling my butt up this street mountain thing was probably a good bet. Finally, I turned a corner and the sign “Peak Road” showed up. I followed it and eventually got to what seemed to be the top of the mountain. Along the way, I saw spectacular views of the skyline from above it all, looking down. It was simply breathtaking.
And then I arrived in tourist heaven/my absolutely hellish nightmare. For the people that had paid an obscene amount of money to take the tram to the top of Victoria Peak, they were congratulated with a “YOU DID IT! YOU STOOD ON THE TRAM FOR FIVE MINUTES! GO YOU!” with a Burger King, Starbucks, McDonalds, and a plethora of Thai restaurants, Dim Sum spots, and many other super Westernized options for pipelining a bunch of food that might have been featured in “Supersize Me.” I am all for globalization but this was overwhelming to my senses after an hour and a half away from people and stores and mankind. Then these people, Big Mac in hand, marched their bottoms up to the escalators and then rode to the top to pay 40 HKD to see the view from the “only place you can ever see this view ever in the whole world ever because it’s the best view ever and you can only see it here for 40 HKD.”
I went to pee in the public toilets before I decided whether or not I was going to fork out to see said view. As I turned the corner to go to the public toilets that were in front of the viewing spot in this massive mall perched on the peak, I realized a spectacular thing. Right in front of the rank public toilets, there was the SAME. EXACT. VIEW. For free. So naturally I took a picture and saved the 40 HKD. Brilliant.
Then I hiked around the peak on this great trail, ventured down to this reservoir, took a bus back into the city center, was amused by a sign that I saw, got off the bus to retrace my steps, and get this gem of a picture:
And then the day simply passed by. From the Symphony of Lights show where the Hong Kong skyline is lit up for 13 minutes of insanity – laser beams shooting from the tops of buildings in a coordinated to music performance – to the Temple Street night market to the Avenue of the Stars where you can see the Bruce Lee statue and Jackie Chan’s fingerprints in cement, this city provided a wild variety of city type things in the evening. And after an afternoon of GREEN and NATURE and FRESH AIR – something I had long forgotten about while living in Shanghai, I was thrilled to explore the city.
It’s simply amazing what you can see with your two feet in one afternoon. Onwards and upwards to Lantau Island tomorrow to see the famous pink dolphins, Tai O fishing village, and the Bid Buddha!