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Hong Kong: Giant ears and steep things

11 Feb

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This was my favorite moment in Hong Kong. There, on the top of Lantau Island, the fog and shitty visibility combined into a mysterious veil of wonder, delight, and a few goosebumps.

I made the trek out to Lantau Island, taking the subway and a scenic bus ride up the mountain. The first stop was Po Lin monastery, which wasn’t all that exciting. But the monastery’s true claim-to-fame is the giant Buddha statue towering over the area.

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Hello, Buddha! The thing is massive, and with curiously long earlobes. All the better to hear the song of the universe, I suppose.

But the part of my Lantau excursion that I truly enjoyed was the hike up to the peak. While only 1.5km, it is straight up the side of the mountain. Oh boy, stairs.

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My legs are still aching… time to go back to the gym. The top of the mountain was completely obscured by fog, but despite the occasional sounds of airplanes, speedboats, and songs from the monastery below, I felt alone and peaceful for the first time in Hong Kong.

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This is my peaceful face.

It was also good to know that the peak was made in China.

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On the way down, I met a nice Ukrainian couple struggling up the stairs. Of course they asked how much farther they had to go… I may have underestimated slightly, because I didn’t want them to lose hope and miss out. The woman blabbered something at me in Ukrainian and bowed several times, and the man translated “She considers you a hero.” Wow, all it takes is giving somewhat incorrect time estimates for climbing a mountain? I like it.

The remainder of my time in Hong Kong, I stayed in the city due to the less-than-glamorous weather. Mistake. I think that, unless you’re a shopper, the best part of HK is the surrounding islands and wilderness.

The tram to Victoria Peak was fun, although extremely crowded. After seeing pictures of the tram when it was first built, with the British men looking quite dapper and the women looking sweaty and sad, I can only imagine what Hong Kong would have been like. So many mountains and forests, with a small fishing village along the water, and the only way up the mountain on Hong Kong Island was by rickshaw… insane and beautiful.

Cue walking on gentle trails around the peak, going to the New Years parade downtown, deciding the parade was slow and boring, and paying too much money for dinner, because every restaurant charges extra for being open on New Year, and that rounds out my Hong Kong experience.

Was it fun? Of course. Will I be heading back to Hong Kong anytime soon? Probably not. The city is just a little too much for me. Evidently there’s a limit to the amount of city I can take. There are just so many people, in such a small space, and the buildings were so towering, it all felt very overwhelming. And it is not a cheap city, either, compared to the rest of southeast Asia.

But my hostel, Yesinn @ Causeway Bay, was amazing, and I met a lot of interesting people from all over the place. If I do go back, I will stick to the outlying islands and territories, and just soak up the nature and pollution-masked sunshine. And watch out for exotic wildlife.

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Burgers tonight?

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Travel

 

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