Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hong Kong Day 2

hong kong penghu KHS 037For my second day in Hong Kong, I made my way to Lantau Island.  It’s easily reached by subway, but I took my hotel’s shuttle to Tsim Tsa Tsui (?) and caught one of the frequent ferries to the Central Ferry, then rode another one to the town of Mui Wo on Lantau Island.  This island is pretty cool- it has Disneyland, the airport, an old fishing village, amazing beaches and amazing hikes.  And an outlet mall. 
The town of Mui Wo didn’t have much going on- I failed to change some money (small banks don’t take Taiwan $$) and went to a grocery store to stock up on food for the day, including…
OK, my self-photography skill are poor, but those are salt & vinegar potato chips, baby!  At regular potato chip prices!  Also water, nuts and a coke, all of which I needed as the day went on.  I got a quick lunch from a stand at the pier, then caught a bus to Tai O, the old fishing village.\

hong kong penghu KHS 019
The houses there were built on stilts over the water, but really it was only the porch that was over the water and you couldn’t see them that well.  Lots of shops selling dried fish and whatnot.  There were also people offering boat rides, which might have been cool, but the busses only ran once an hour and I didn’t want to spend much more time there.  Also on the boats supposedly you have a chance at seeing pink dolphins which are only found in Hong Kong.  But I feel bad about chasing endagered species so I don’t know.  Having a bus to catch made it an easy decision.  By the way there were really clear bus routes and schedules at all the tourist stops so you knew when the next one was coming. 

hong kong penghu KHS 039
My next stop was PoLin.  The ride there passed some beautiful beaches and really rural areas.  I was going there for the hike to Lantau Peak and the cable car ride down the mountain, not for the giant Buddha and monastery- but seriously, how cool is this picture?  Me and my sense of composition.  :)  I guess the Buddha weighs as much as a jumbo jet! 
After a little time at a gift shop I started searching for the trailhead for the Lantau Peak trail.  Things got a little confusing and I ran across an Australian couple who seemed to think I was on the right path. 

But I walked ahead to find this blocking the road:
hong kong penghu KHS 041
Yes, I grew up around cows.  Yes, there were other people around.  And I figured the chances were, those guys were pretty tame.  But… see those horns?  I turned around and ran into the Australian couple again… I guess several paths interconnected but soon enough I saw a sign pointing me to my trail.

hong kong penghu KHS 042
This is the view from partway up.  It was slightly rugged, though there were steps in places.  It was HOT (if you go, I’d recommend doing it in the morning, when the sun will be on the other side of the mountain) and steep.  The guidebook said it would take over an hour to reach the peak and it took much more than that.  There weren’t many people on the trail but enough that I felt safe.  Most were other tourists.  I stopped and had my chips and soda at one point- glad I had it!

There were also people week-whacking the trail. hong kong penghu KHS 047 This turned out to be really helpful- I’d say less than 20% of the trail hadn’t been weed-whacked yet but it was some tall grass to walk through.  No snakes in Hong Kong, right?
As I got near the top some clouds started rolling in, as you can see in the picture above.  I ran into some girls from New Jersey who seemed content with the view near the top and decided to turn around.  I considered it but I figured if you’re going to climb 1.75 km, might as well climb 2.  I ran into the girl at the bottom of this photo, who is a Hong Kong native and spoke English. 

hong kong penghu KHS 044
So she helped me take this picture at the top!  And then the clouds started to roll away so we got to see all around- the guidebook said you could see to Macau on a good day, but then I looked at a map and realized Macau is really close.  It was so clear, we could see all of Hong Kong and over to China.  I had always thought that the entire east coast of China is just one line of factories, but I was wrong!
hong kong penghu KHS 043Can’t seem to find all the pictures I took but this is overlooking the airport and another part of Hong Kong I believe.  In the other directions you just saw mountains and a beautiful lake. 
After a short rest my new buddy and I started down the mountain.  I planned to take the cable car down from the Buddha and then the subway back to the hotel.  Except I got there at 6:02 and the place closed at 6!  Such a bummer.  And all the food stands were closed too- it had been such a busy place earlier and it was like a ghost town!  So I took a loooong bus ride with my new buddy, but it was all I could do to maintain a little bit of pleasantness cause man was I hungry and thirsty.  The outlet mall had food options- I chose a grocery store which was set up like a maze- I was this close to sitting down and eating my turkey apple salad first and paying for it later- and I was too beat to do any outlet shopping.  It looked like a regular mall anyways.  Overall this island was very cool, although I’d plan things differently if I had it to do again.  Oh well.  So amazed that there were so many beautiful and wild places in Hong Kong!  I honestly think I could spend a few days on this island just hiking and beaching.

No comments: