Braving the dark, the pollution and the big flying bugs

4 Aug

Lion Rock is a fairly popular hike among the HK community, as it is within the metropolitan area. It is part of the Lion Rock Country Park, between Kowloon Tong in Kowloon and Tai Wai in the New Territories. It is therefore very easy to access by MTR and most public transportation. It is also pretty short (a 1.5 to 3 hours hike depending on your physical level), making it quite an attractive option for busy Hongkongers.

The picture says it all

While labeled as a short hike, Lion rock is still a good workout as it is fairly steep with a gradual incline the whole way up. When hiking up the trail, it is fascinating to see the abundance of skyscrapers in the distance amongst the green valleys surrounding me. It leaves a picturesque image with a unique combination of modernism and nature. There is just something beautiful about this and it is something I have always liked when hiking or trail running in Hong Kong.

View from Amah Rock, on our way to the top

As part of our MoonTrekker training, a few of us headed to Lion Rock last Friday night after work, in order to test our headlamps and get used to hiking in darkness. It was a nice way to end the working week. It gets so quiet up there. The city feels so close yet so far away. It is a welcome sense of relief and often serves as a quick escape for one, especially after a long day in the office.

(Image: The Office)

It’s been a long week…

While the view in daylight is quite amazing, the scenery is truly stunning at night, with a colorful clutter of lights in the skyline. There had been a typhoon around Taiwan during the week that had affected the wind in Hong Kong. Therefore, the pollution index was very high which made the view a little blurry. From the top of the hill, on a clear day, one can see all the way to Hong Kong island. On Friday night, with the high pollution index, we could barely point out the location of Mong Kok. It was a sort of wake up call for me actually. You always hear about how polluted the city is. I must say being able to see the heavy smog hanging over Hong Kong was slightly disturbing. I mean, I am breathing this air everyday now… What will it be like in a few years?

 View from Amah Rock, at night

 View from the top of Lion Rock

Where is it?

The beginning of the trail is right next to the Tai Wai MTR station and it ends close to Lok Fu MTR station. Very easy to access as you can see.

The good?

Lion Rock is a good option for breaking a sweat if you only have a 3 to 4 hours window, which is something many business travellers are seeking, especially for those staying on the Kowloon side. Lion Rock is short, fairly steep and easily accessible. From East Tsim Sha Tsui to the beginning of the trail, it takes about 40 minutes to get there. Worth a try if you want to exercise but don’t have a lot of time.

The bad?

I am not too fond of the flying and crawling insects. And many of them came out to check up on us that Friday night, most likely because of the light from our headlamps. But in normal conditions, Lion Rock doesn’t present any major drawbacks. Give it a shot!

Anything else?

If you hit Lion Rock early in the morning like we did a few weeks ago, you will cross path with many Chinese elders, exercising and stretching their legs up against a tree. Despite the hot and humid Hong Kong weather, they are walking up the hill, slowly but steadily, with an umbrella in their hand.

Jóusàhn   (早晨)! Jóusàhn (早晨)!” they’ll say, smiling and looking at the sweat dripping off our face. “Very wet! Very wet!”

“Yes, indeed, very humid!” we’ll reply, amazed by the fresh look on their face and their steady breathing.

It is actually pretty impressive to see them working out, some of them being more than twice my age! And at times much more flexible than I am, I must admit… My Pilates instructor would not be proud. While observing them, I tend to make a comparison with the older folks back home in America. How many of them would be able to walk up a similar hill, at 8am on a hot and humid Saturday morning? And I am talking hot and humid in Hong Kong standards (over 30 degrees Celsius with a humidity factor of 95). The high level of fitness of the older generation of Chinese in Hong Kong always makes me wonder… Is it the rice? The tai chi? The genetics? Whatever it is, I hope some of it rubs off on me!

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