Hong Kong

It’s been five weeks since Debbie and I visited Hong Kong. Upon our return, I’ve had no time to sort photos and reflect on what a cool adventure it was. When in Asia, I had the time to post about our Lantau Island hike.

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However, over the course of three days, we packed in a bunch of other sightseeing. It was our first time in Hong Kong and it is a splendid city full of modern infrastructure, history, and parks.

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We only scratched the surface on this visit, but it proved to be a welcome stopover on our trip to Singapore for the YPO Global Leadership Conference.

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To get to Hong Kong, we took a direct flight from Boston on Cathay Pacific Airlines. Cathay is a fine airline. I recalled doing a case study on the company in business school. We left late in the evening on Tuesday and arrived early on Thursday morning. There was a 13 hour time difference. The day we arrived, we recovered from the trip and caught up on email and reading.

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On Friday morning, Debbie went for a run and I went for a swim in the hotel pool. Then we took the fairy to Lantau Island and did the hike. That took all afternoon and we got back late at night.

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On Saturday, Debbie met up with our friend Rod, who joined her for a trail run on the Hong Kong Trail, another one of the Hong Kong area’s long distance hiking trails. She did a 20 mile section in the southeast corner of the island.

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Rod broke off after 10K and she continued on her own. She eventually ended up on the Dragon’s Back and ran up and over to Shek O Beach. When she started the run, I headed for the bus depot. I took a bus to Repulse Bay. Rod had explained that this was a good open water swimming spot. He told me that there would be “shark nets” so it was safe. I thought that was comforting! He also noted that in March, I wouldn’t find many others in the water.

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That part was true! There were many people on the beach, but I think there were only three or four other people in the water. I was the only one who was actually swimming for exercise. I ended up doing two laps of the enclosed swimming area.

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There was a huge changing room with showers, so I was able to wash off following my swim, but the fresh water was not much warmer than the salt water in the bay. From there, I took another bus to get closer to the Dragon’s Back trailhead. It was late morning, but the temperature had remained cool.

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I struggled to figure out the bus routes,  and ended up in the village of Stanley, which was farther south, but actually the opposite direction from which I needed to go. I had to get north and then east in order to cut across a short peninsula. So, I flagged down a taxi and told the driver where I wanted to go.

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It was the first time she had ever been to this part of the island, so we both enjoyed the adventure on the steep, narrow, and winding mountain roads. At times, it was so narrow that only one vehicle could pass. There were rock cliffs on the left (the side of the rode that you drive on in Hong Kong) and steep drop offs to the right. Crazily, they allow full size buses on these roads, so several times, we had to squeeze over even farther to the left in order to let one by.

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I used my iPhone and Google Maps to navigate to the right spot. I felt safer when I got out of the car. From there, I messaged Debbie and she called. She was at Shek O Beach, which was perfect. She had gotten to the spot where I was standing, about 90 minutes earlier, so she continued on the trail up and over the Dragon’s Back.

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I was still hobbled by my broken leg and she warned me that the trail was steep and rocky. I told her I would meet her at the top and then we would turn back together. So, we ascended the Dragon’s Back from opposite directions. It was her second time.

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The trail was crowded with tourists and locals. When I say crowded, I mean it was jammed with people. The closest thing to compare it to would be climbing Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire on an early summer day. It was far from a wilderness experience. Also, the air was thick with smog and damp clouds, so there were zero views. Supposedly, this trail can offer fantastic sights, including the entire Hong Kong skyline, but I couldn’t see a thing.

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I got to the top and did 15 minutes of people watching before Debbie came up the trail on the back side. It was great to see her. We took some photos and then descended the trail back to where I started. From there, we caught a bus to Shau Kei Wan, an MTR station. MTR is Hong Kong’s main transit authority and the trains and subways are clean and efficient. We took the train back downtown and were back at the hotel in the mid-afternoon.

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That night, we had a fantastic meal at Pure Veggie House, a fantastic restaurant that was walking distance from the hotel, but to get there, we took a short cab ride. We had to get there by 6:00 P.M. for an early reservation. They said that they were sold out for the night. They squeezed us in and we had a great time. With less time constraint on the return trip to the hotel, we walked and wound our way through Hong Kong Park, one of the beautiful green spaces.

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On Sunday morning, we went for a swim in the hotel pool and then packed up. Our Singapore flight was around 3:00 P.M., but we needed to get back to the airport on Lantau Island shortly after noon. Once we were packed, we ventured back to Hong Kong Park to explore the Aviary along with the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. We were pressed for time, and want to return so that we can visit the butterfly garden.

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Getting to the airport was a snap. We were actually able to check our bags in at Hong Kong Station before boarded the train. That was really cool. We checked them in at the train station and didn’t see them again until Singapore. What makes this so amazing is that the airport is 30 kilometers from central Hong Kong, so they securely load your baggage there and transport it to the airport on a separate train car, where it is securely transported to the correct plane for the trip to your final destination.

We enjoyed our short stay in Hong Kong, but there is so much more to see. We only passed through Kowloon, and didn’t have the time to stop and explore. There are also other trails to run/hike on. We took off and after a three and a half hour flight, we were in Singapore by 7:30 P.M.

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