I woke up with a crick in my neck this morning so I thought I’d go for a walk, warm up my body and walk it off. Ever since I’d walked up to Choi Sai Woo park back in August, I’d been curious about the wooded area that I had turned back from. On a day like this (19C/66F 84% RH) I can walk as much as I want without fear of dehydration or heatstroke.
Behind our place in Hong Kong are various stairways leading up to Braemar Hill. I took one of these staircases up to Tin Hau Temple Road, and then proceeded towards Braemar Hill Road. I followed the perimeter of Choi Sai Woo park until I reached the path that I had turned back from, only this time I kept going. Soon, I was deep inside the park and it was hard to believe that civilization was just 15 minutes away.
There were some forks in the path so I just took the ones that looked like they were ascending. I was trying to get a workout, after all. I made my way up one of these paths and reached a clearing at the top of the hill. I could see Eastern Hong Kong as well as the old Kai Tak Airport across the harbour. There was a also a man who looked liked he lived there. He was barefoot and very much well-tanned. Plastic bags and basins hung from tree branches. Around the corner was some kind of encampment. I didn’t want to intrude on this man’s domain (plus I wasn’t sure if he was mentally stable) so I got my ass out of there.
Since the clearing was a dead-end, I backed my way down and continued down the other side of the fork. I reached a little rest area that had a map of where I was, and three possible paths. I took the one that led to a really steep staircase leading up to a vista point (there was a sign). Once I reached the top, the view was ordinary so I was a bit disappointed. I could have kept going but I decided I’d leave before I actually got tired. You don’t want to wait until you’re tired in the middle of a subtropical forest before you decide to make your way back. I went back down the staircase and went on the path heading west.
On Google Maps there is actually a path mapped out, and I had been following it roughly up until that point. Once I took the path to the west, I was no longer on any mapped path. I knew that if I kept going, I would eventually reach civilization again, but to be completely honest I have to admit that I was nervous during certain moments. You’re walking down a path not knowing where it leads, not knowing where the next turn will take you. The sky is overcast and rain is a possibility. Parts of the path are still damp and mushy from the previous days’ rain. Other than the sound of some birds calling, you’re all alone. My mind started wandering a bit, thinking what would happen if I slipped and fell or if I got mugged or something. I had my umbrella with me so I could use it as a club. If I fell down the side of the mountain, I’d be all scratched up. I imagined myself walking out of the woods and people staring at the disoriented scratched-up man from the forest.
Of course, the map doesn’t lie and soon I was right at the edge of the park:
I made my way out and back down, stopping by a supermarket to buy some coffee. As I walked home, I thought wow, I’m in Hong Kong, a major metropolis with all the comforts and conveniences that modern civilization can bring, yet nature is just a short walk away. Pretty darn cool.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department website has more information on various hiking routes in Hong Kong.