Tag Archives: Mountain

The Chi Ma Wan country trail: By day, by night

5 Sep

It was already late in the afternoon when Team Moonshine boarded the ferry from Central to Mui Wo. The weather had been good so far, but a menacing typhoon called Tembin had been hovering around Hong Kong’s shores and we didn’t know what to expect. We had been debating all day: hike or no hike tonight?

Thankfully, at 17h30 the sky was rather clear and we could still see the sun in the near horizon. It looked like luck was on our side. Today’s objective: the Chi Ma Wan country trail from Mui Wo to Pui O, an 18 km loop within the Chi Ma Wan peninsula. Being a segment of the MoonTrekker 40km race course (from Start point to Check Point 1, via the Chi Ma Wan peninsula), we had decided it would be better for us to hike at night this time around to best prepare ourselves for the strenuous event. We were hoping to shave some minutes off from our last training session’s time, which had occurred a week ago, under a blazing morning sun. Deep down, I believed we were just hoping to finish today’s hike before any thunderstorm could hit us.

On the ferry, overcome with my usual anticipation, I kept envisioning what the scenery at night would bring us. In the daylight, this trail has some stunning views. During last week’s training hike, I couldn’t help but constantly stop to take pictures of the amazing panorama, with its different shades of blue and green. My photo sessions might have slightly slowed us down, but there was no way I was going to miss taking these breathtaking shots. The trail is only a 30 minutes ferry ride away from Hong Kong and yet, we feel so far from the bustling city. Once in a while, you will see a ferry passing by. Other than that, it is just you and the natural landscape with its panoramic ocean views.

Isn’t it beautiful?

As much as I like my new city of adoption, Hong Kong can be quite overwhelming at times. Crowds of people, lights, noises, long office hours… I have been going through a lot of stress lately and these moments spent on the mountain and out in nature with my teammates are what have been really keeping me together. The great outdoors have that calming effect on me. Being in nature has always been a key component to me finding my balance. And right now, more than ever, I need a place where I can think, breathe some fresh air and break out a good sweat, all at once.

We finally arrived to the Mui Wo ferry terminal a little after 18h00. It was still sunny out but darkness was just around the corner so we took out our headlamps and headed towards the trail. Mui Wo is an outdoorsy hub so hikers with headlamps are quite common around here. But as I passed by a group of foreigners having drinks at the local bar, I must say I felt kind of goofy, with that big lamp on my forehead. Headlamps are just plain unsexy, and I will have to get use to this unflattering look. The army of dragonflies hovering over our heads was a clear warning that it would probably be raining fairly soon. Hiking in the rain doesn’t really bother me, but I was dreading the ferry ride back home, in my wet clothes, with the heavy dose of intense air-conditioning on the boat, something so typical to Hong Kong.

The night hike went well. We reduced our time by at least thirty minutes, which was probably due to the cooler weather, making it much easier to maintain a faster pace. Thankfully, it only started raining as we got off the bus bringing us back from Pui O to Mui Wo. It looks like Typhoon Tembin had decided not to venture towards Hong Kong this time around, much to my liking.

It was time for us to head back home. Sitting on the uncomfortable wooden chairs of the slow-moving ferry, I experienced a mixture of emotions. I was happy that Team Moonshine had done a personal best in time that night. I was tired from the 18km hike in the dark woods. But overall, I felt in peace with myself, the way I always feel after a good workout outside. I had a big week ahead of me but I was now ready to tackle in on with full force.

Where is it?

From Central Pier 6, you must take the ferry to Mui Wo. As you can see on the schedule, there are two options: slow ferry (1 hour trip) or fast ferry (about 30 minutes trip).

As you get off the ferry, turn right (towards McDonalds) and follow the waterfront. Keep walking in direction of the forest. A trail sign will be on the right-hand side of the road. From the ferry to the beginning of the trail, it is no more than a five minutes walk. On the trail, just follow the signs leading you to Pui O.

From Pui O, it will be easy to catch a bus back to the ferry terminal.

Anything else?

While hiking on that trail the past few times, we crossed paths with some mountain bikers. Mountain biking? Really? Great news for me! I had been wondering where mountain bikers were getting their fix around Hong Kong as I am an avid one myself. I did some more in-depth research afterwards and found out on the Hong Kong Mountain Bike Association website that Chi Ma Wan country trail is a great single track, with just the right amount of technicality and not too much hill climbing. Must try it as soon as possible.

On my next visit to my motherland of Quebec, my beloved mountain bike, which has been hibernating in my parents’ basement for the past year or so, will be dusted off and traveling back with me to Asia. This is definite. I am looking forward to rediscover this trail, this time on two wheels.

Aiming for the moon… and for the sunrise

22 Jul

“Aiming for the moon and missing it is better than aiming for the ditch and hitting it” -Unknown

That’s what I told myself when I decided to register for a 40km adventure night race in Hong Kong. The first time I heard about the MoonTrekker event, I was chilling on a junk boat with friends while working on my tan. Living the glamorous HK life! I had recently moved to the city and was enjoying my new life in Asia with style.  I still didn’t know about all the hiking opportunities that Hong Kong presented and I was definitely unaware that the city hosted such adventurous racing events.

MoonTrekker immediately intrigued me… I liked the name (slightly mystical) and I was attracted by the idea of racing through the mountainous trails of Lantau island under the moonlight. Starting in Mui Wo and finishing at Cheung Sha Beach, the objective of the race was to reach the end before sunrise. How exciting it must be! That same night, I tried to register for MoonTrekker. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for me since I had not done any training), the organizers weren’t accepting any more participants, as it was too close to the event’s date.  My registration attempt and hopes were shattered. Instead of being discouraged, I was determined to register for the 2012 edition. And that’s what I did at the beginning of May this year, along with three other highly motivated girlfriends. Team Moonshine was born and the training begun…

Preparing for this kind of adventure race is such a great way to explore the many trails the region has to offer. During our training sessions, Hong Kong’s abundance of lush green valleys and the limitless blue ocean often blow me away. This island is truly stunning but tourists and visitors don’t often get a chance to see this.

View from Dragon's Back, a famous hike in Hong Kong

View from Dragon’s Back trail, a famous hike in Hong Kong

As it will be our first time participating in an event of this magnitude, we don’t want to put too much pressure on our shoulders. We just want to finish. There are some hardcore athletes racing in this event every year and as I looked at the results from 2011, I momentarily second guessed my decision to participate. But then I decided not to stress about it. We are four fit, enthusiastic girls and we will train hard. We will aim for the moon. And try to make it to the end before sunrise.

My Hong Kong: Beyond the concrete jungle

16 Jul

Originally from Quebec City in Canada, I now call myself a Hongkonger since June of  2011. Hong Kong being my fifth international address in less than 10 years, I am hopeful that it will also be my last, or at least a very long-term one… It seems that I have finally reached the “I want to settle down” phase, much to my mother’s relief.

 The thing is… I really like this place. I have liked it since the beginning and for many reasons. The main one is definitely this cute little Chinese guy I moved to Hong Kong for. But there is also so much to do here and I too often get myself overwhelmed (in a good way).

I have a day job in Business Development, and it always makes me sad to hear international customers describing HK as nothing more than a concrete jungle full of shopping malls and skyscrapers, with lots of people, pollution and noise. Ok, I’ll admit that they are not completely in the wrong… But it is obvious that they also ignore what the rest of the city has to offer, which is the part of Hong Kong I prefer. I am referring to the easy access to mountains and ocean, and to so many other small things and quirky places that make this Special Administrative Region of China so fun to live in.

To resume it all, this blog is basically bits and pieces of my journey as an expat in HK, as I am discovering the city (and probably some other parts of Asia, everything being so close). It is about the side of Hong Kong that tourists and business travellers often don’t really know about, that side that I call my Hong Kong.

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