Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hiking on Lantau in Hong Kong

Folk that don't live in Hong Kong often think of it as a hustle, bustle city crammed full of people, buildings, and cars...and...well it is... but its also so much more. Hong Kong is a pretty big place and what people often don't know is that its more than 50% country park. Get a short hop outside the city areas and you find beautiful ocean vistas, rugged mountain cliffs, and systematically marked trails to guide you through them.

This week is Chinese New Year so on Wednesday I had planned for Gabriel and I to go on a "short" hike.   At 8:30 AM Gabriel got up though and fired up the X-Box 360! Something rose up within me as I saw my son about to embark on yet another adventure into the virtual world rather than the real one.

"Get dressed and fill your water bottle...we're leaving in 10 minutes."

Of course I had to endure the initial despise that emanated from Gabriel for the next 60 minutes.

I decided on a nice stretch of a hike on South Lantau Island uphill to the top of the Island where the Ngong Ping Cable car village (and the Big Buddha) was. It was about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour jaunt and I figured we'd have lunch at the top and then either take the cable car or a bus back down.

We took the Park Island bus to Tsing Yi station then caught the MTR to Tung Chung on Lantau. After a little search we found the number 11 bus to Tai O but exited at the Shek Pik Reservoir. Just to the East of the reservoir was the trailhead but it had a large sign and a large brown gate that was chained closed:

"Danger: Due to landside damage this trail is permanently closed."

So I did what most hikers do when they see these things. I went around the gate and started walking.
"Papa, where are you going?"
"On the trail"
"But its says "Danger" Do you want us to get killed?"
"We're not going to get killed...lets go"

As we began to meander up the hill we began to look back and see the reservoir and the sea behind it descending into incredible views from our ever increasing height. Gabriel's attitude softened (as I knew it would) and before long we were having the father-son day I had envisioned. As we trudged along our little "fellowship" covered such conversational topics as God, girls, drugs, and world history.

Because it was a "closed" trail the normal encounters with other hikers didn't happen. The whole morning we passed no one having the trail and the mountainside all to ourselves and finally reaching the top Ngong Ping Village. This is a tourist area of Hong Kong where the largest Buddha in the world has been constructed along with all the restaurants and souvenir shops that inhabit these types of places. We had lunch at Ebeneezers which is an Indian curry fast food chain in Hong Kong. While we were eating I asked Gabriel if he wanted to take the cable car down (expensive) or the bus (cheap)?

"What if we hike the trail under the cable car down?"
" Huh!!" I thought. Was this my X-Box 360 loving son who I practically had to Shanghai to get him out hiking now suggesting we hoof it for another 3 hours back down to the MTR station.

"OK...lets do it"

We finished our curries and headed off for Lantau Hike Part 2. As the cable cars glided over our heads we eschewed such luxury for the thrill of the trail. We quickly discovered though, that although primarily a "decent" back down to the city, the trail went back up at each of the cable car towers so we had a extreme workout of non-stop accent and decent.

Occupants of the cable cars shouted out to us and gave us the thumbs up along the trail no doubt saying, "Look at what those crazy guys are doing!"

About two hours in we ran out of water which made things even more fun! Up....and down....up....and down! This was a lot more than I originally planned but it was now becoming a challenge for both Gabriel and I. At 4:00 PM we finally... successfully...reached the bottom...but then had another 10 minutes to walk before we reached civilization...and a 7-11 where we bought two large bottles of water and downed them while still in the store.

(Gabriel followed it up with a Slurpee)

Anyhow, wish I had a camera, but I pulled a few generic pics from the area off the internet of the area. It was a great day and one we'll do again soon!


Paul Ellis said...

I'm impressed! But what happened to you? Not too long ago you would've been the one playing computer games while your middle aged friends (ahem) tried to convince you to venture into the HK wilds.

You went up a closed trail?! You took the path less traveled by? Awesome! Don't let those pencil-pushing, concrete-pouring bureaucrats tell you where you can and can't walk in God's great earth.

What a great day out!

Bob said...

As the father of two sons who have generally told me things on a "need to know" basis, I can tell you that it has always been in the midst of some activity with one of them that he would drop his guard and have some meaningful conversation -- whether on a beautiful trail as you and Gabriel, dropping a line in the water, pitching a baseball or watching a game. The key is be tuned in and ready when those conversations happen. This was a great reminder.

And it's ALWAYS preferable to experience real life over the virtual one!

Steve H. said...

Paul: You still have me stereotyped into my 1990's non-hiking mode :) You forget I spent 8 years in Boulder Colorado

Bob: Yeah, it was the best day I've had in a while. Especially having the newborn, it was good to spend some quality time with the "firstborn"

Redlefty said...

Well, I'm the guilty one who played video games with the kids today. But at least it was an active dancing game!