|Day 1 - High Junk Peak|
Since December J has been back Stateside to spend Christmas and New Year with his family, and get settled in to his new lab/ grad programme, so I've been flying solo since then while waiting (and waiting, and waiting, and waitingggg) for my spouse visa. (Which, frankly, leaves me in a pickle: how do I clean my ceiling fan and change the kitchen light bulb that's on the fritz? I really am not keen on falling off a chair.)
So to get away from it all, I took a quick jaunt to Hong Kong two weeks ago with Holly for some cooler temperatures, gorgeous hikes, and good eating.
Hong Kong is an intense city; everything is taken to extremes. The urban part of Hong Kong is way built-up - from the AirBnB hostel we stayed in, we had a lovely view of...neighbouring blocks' air-con compressors and neon street signs. I was just glad to have a window. On the other hand, because of the city's steep, hilly geography, all the urban area is concentrated in a few spots, with some suburbs perched on hillsides and on the outlying islands, and the trail part of Hong Kong is...well, it's beautiful.
At 23 weeks pregnant I wasn't going to do anything ridiculous, and both of us were lugging along work and deadlines anyway, so we ended up doing probably three of HK's easiest hikes, half a day each or less including travel time. All of these are suitable for a reasonably in-shape beginner walker and I did them in regular old running shoes, with one of those stupid uncomfortable string nylon backpacks - I forgot I'd shipped my usual daypack. If you are a newbie hiker, take it slow and steady with photo/ drink breaks.
Day 1: High Junk Peak, Kowloon
Our flight got in about 6am, and we started the day off with breakfast (not pictured) and a bit of an adventure getting (in)to our hostel*, followed by conking out for a nap.
- Get to security-code-enabled front door at 8am. Ring the number provided. No one picks up. (Repeat 7-8x.)
- Message AirBnB host, who turns out to manage/ own a number of different hostels, each with an on-site property manager. Host is tremendously responsive online, but we still can't get in because the property manager isn't picking up.
- Wait an hour. This preggo lady needs to peeeeeeeee. Look longingly at trash bin in stairwell. (What? I'm a runner. I pee in the woods. Someone who isn't opening the front door despite multiple phone calls arguably may or may not deserve to have their trash bin peed in.)
- A couple of tourists emerges from front door, whereupon we walk in
- And make ourselves at home in one of the empty rooms - they are empty after all, and we have paid. - Wake up from nap and ring property manager again.
- A very drowsy property manager arrives to officially check us in and give us keys and security code.
By now, we were starving. What better to fuel up with than a hearty lunch of roast goose and rice?
And some pretty views, although at the end of the above spit you can just about make out the fancy-pants golf club.
Day 2: Dragon's Back, Hong Kong Island
Dragon's Back is perhaps one of the most famous hikes in all of Hong Kong, and with good reason - it's lovely! The trail goes up up up for a good half hour, but then is almost flat along a long spiny ridge that goes south-east.
Above: Looking north-ish towards the city bits of the island.
Goofing around on the trail. (Not pictured: Holly yoga selfie - newly minted yoga instructor, had to take yoga selfie. I did not follow suit for fear of overbalancing and falling off the hillside.)
The trail ahead
With a chaser of dim sum. This was a mere fraction of the spread we had: fried dumplings, steamed dumplings, steamed rice cake, lotus seed paste and custard buns, baked char siew rolls, congee, and pan-fried rice rolls with sweet sauce and sesame-peanut sauce...
After running some shopping errands for my mom I had some work to do to make a deadline, so I fairly rolled back to the hostel in a food coma while Holly trundled off to the museum, and we got dinner after she got back.
The first portion of this was up all the way for a good half hour, but it's lots of stairs, nothing crazy. We saw plenty of little old ladies and tourists doing it. Views: definitely more urban skyline than bucolic countryside. The link above says it's 'difficult' and takes 5 hours; I found it relatively smooth sailing and we took about 3.5, I think. (There is a slightly tougher option to actually ascend Lion Rock, but we skipped that to climb Beacon Hill and see the 'lion' from afar on the way down.) There are longish flat sections, and the ascents and descents mostly involve paved steps like these:
City view at a wee pavilion en route, looking south towards the bulk of urban/ residential Kowloon.
A view of Lion Rock - the tallest peak is the top of its head, and it's looking towards the right, sphinx-like.
After all these stunning views it was of course time for lunch; we decided to go hunt for Vietnamese food and found some in a basement food court right near the hostel. Pho and pomelo soda!
In the evening we went down to the Kowloon waterfront, where the Avenue of Stars is (if you are a HK movie/ pop buff, that's where the stars' handprints are, just like Hollywood's Walk of Fame - Tsui Hark, Bruce Lee, Gong Li etc. One day many millennia in the future, aliens will land and wonder if that's where we buried our dead celebrities) but it was kind of hazy and thus really funny to see tourists try to take photos with the blurred neon skyline.
Later, I went for hot pot with some friends who live in Hong Kong. Good times and lots of laughs. (In the pot: vegetables, pork bones, fish maw, corn, fish paste, sliced shabu-shabu beef, mushrooms, glass noodles, etc etc etc etc, all simmering away to make this rich umami stew-ness.)
And yes, work has been kind of crazy with interviews and deadlines, which is why it's taken me two weeks to post these photos.
What's running like at 23-25 weeks? I am SO SLOW these days, and my runs are peppered with walk breaks. (Sometimes my walks are peppered with run breaks?) It's kind of like an inverse training plan: you get heavier and heavier and slower and slower as things progress. In other words: still not very exciting, sorry guys. The highlight of last week was running a whopping 6km without stopping to walk.
This is me at 23 weeks; there is definitely a bump going on. Said bump has since expanded.
And I'm trying to cram as much time in as possible with this little squish before I leave for the US (still don't know when, but at least I have a visa interview date). <3 #favouriteniece