Hong Kong Day 9 (January 2, 2006)

4 01 2006

Hiking at Sai Kung, shopping at Mong Kok, and Japanese dining

Having been up until about 0230 the night before, sleeping in sounded like a good plan to me.  It didn’t to Mrs Dragonspeed, as she had me up and going by 0800!  We were going hiking today!  Hiking???  In Hong Kong?  You’ve got to be kidding!  No, she wasn’t.  Our friends, Maggie and Francis, came by to pick us up, as the hiking area was going to be pretty far from where we lived.  This makes sense, as really the only area to hike around where we live is from building to building. 🙂  We are going hiking in Sai Kung – 10km at that! Hmmm.

The drive out is quite nice, and we pass quite a few “suburban” areas which have much more moderate height apartment buildings, and it doesn’t feel like they are trying to outreach each other to be the first to reach the sky.  When we arrive at the hike starting point, the parking almost full.  We manage to squeeze into one of the last available parking spots.  There are tour buses coming in, and they have their own parking lot.  Apparently, this is Hong Kong’s natural get away, for all 8 million!  People come out here, and bike, walk, jog, barbeque, and just get away from the city.  We meet up with 4 other friends of Maggie and Francis, bringing us to an even 8 hikers.  We have water ready. I’m set. We’re all set.  Now….  Let’s get the taxi!  Yup, a taxi.  The area where we REALLY start hiking is vehicle restricted, so we have to line up for a taxi.  We take two cabs, and are at the actual starting point of the hike, and ready to go at 0930 on our way to the village of Sai wan. 
The “trail” is a a concrete path.  It winds up and down hills, hugs to the hillsides, and generally does all the things you’d expect a trail to do except it’s made from concrete.  It’s a sidewalk! And, the people!! 

Not exactly a secluded wilderness hike:

What a beautiful location though. I can understand why so many people come.  You start by skirting around one of the hills, with a beautiful view of one of the fresh water reservoirs for Hong Kong.  At this time of year, the water is drawn down pretty low, but it will be brimming with water again in a few months time.  We hiked for about 30 minutes, and came across Tai Long Wan beach, and it’s associated village.  We stopped, had some noodles for breakfast, and enjoyed the wind while listening to the waves lapping up on the beach.  Idyllic.

After breakfast, I realized that as the pale white guy in the crowd I was at a pretty high risk of sunburn.  Francis lent me his ball cap.  Nice cap – Gore Tex! The hike left the village along the beautiful white sand beach, and up into the cliffs above the ocean. 

Islands from the cliffs:

View of the white sand beaches:

The vantage point was perfect.  It was a warm sunny day, but the breeze helped keep things from feeling too hot.  Of course I was in no way dressed for any kind of serious hiking, so the long dark blue pants I was wearing certainly warmed me up! Down from the cliffs, we descended into a nice little village, and stopped again – This time for some ice coffee.  Tough hiking.  The rest was great, and I think I may have snoozed a short bit. 

Mrs Dragonspeed enjoying a cool drink at the beachside restaurant:

Well, off we went again…  This time we walked along some lowlands, and there were many little birds singing in the trees.  I couldn’t get a picture of any of them, as they don’t stay still very long.  It was at this point that I realized that the back of my neck was a bit tender.  Yes.  Sunburn on the 2nd of January.  That’s a first for me.  After about .5-1km the hill started in earnest.  When we got to the pass we had climbed 150m in a very shot time, simply hugging the hillside, and hiking upwards (along the cement path)  At the pass there was another trail that headed up to “Sharp Peak” and it was an actual dirt trail.  The sign at the trailhead read “Very rugged and dangerous terrain ahead.  Do not proceed”  Basically, this would be where the REAL trail starts!  LOL!  After some pics and a rest, it was all downhill, as we made our way to the bottom where we walked along the quiet protected  ocean bay, and then took a ferry.  From the ferry, we took a bus back to the parking lot, and we completed a grand circle.

Two unknown bird species I shot while on the hike.  Do you know what they are?

Francis,  if you are reading this, I need to find out all the names of the villages and beaches, through which we passed.  pls. comment here, or email me.

Hiking complete, it was now time to shop!  We were headed down to Mong Kok again.  I am still looking for a cell phone, so what better place to compare.  Maggie and Francis left us to do our shopping while they grabbed a bite to eat. We wandered through jam packed aisles of people selling towels, sweats, pants, trinkets…  you name it.  Then, a couple of blocks over to the cell phone street.  We went into one little building, and never left.  We visited 15-20 stores in a space of about 50m or less.  It was crazy.  Bare minimum shop space.  I think I finally have decided on the Motorola 3i.  1800 came quickly and we had to hurry to go meet Maggie and Francis.  When we met up with them, we hadn’t bought anything, and they had!  So much for us shopping and them eating!  Mrs D has lost her Chinese touch!  LOL!

I suggested that we take them out for dinner, as they have been so kind to drive us around everywhere and show us all the cool sites.  We all agree to head out to a Japanese restaurant called “Ginza Kuraudo Japanese Restaurant“.  This was quite different from the Japanese food which we have had in Vancouver, and the set meal for 4 consited of two different hot pots and some interesting appetizers.  It was quite good, albeit also a bit pricey.  When it came to settle the bill, we were scooped again!  The Chinese tradition of getting the bill before your dining partners have a chance had caught us again!  So much for taking them out for dinner.  Thanks again guys, but you really have stop doing that!

After dinner it was home, and time to post a few pictures, then off to bed.  It had been a long day without much rest the night before.

Pictures available at: http://www.fotothing.com/dragonspeed

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