Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Other Hong Kong

Views at Plover Cove Country Park

When people think about Hong Kong, they usually envision an urban metropolis.  The iconic views of the Island's skyline against the Peak seem to capture the essence of the place.  Hong Kong is indeed a very urban place, with all the cultural, historical and social attractions of any great city.  And we've been exploring these.

But, more and more, we've come to realize how much beauty and interest there is among the natural areas of Hong Kong.  And I suspect when, years later, we reflect on our favorite memories of Hong Kong, among them will be some of the hikes we've done--especially for the boys.

Country parks are marked dark green

As you can see above, vast areas of Hong Kong are country parks.  This includes Tai Lam, which abuts our campus and which we can get to with a 10 minute walk.  We'd been exploring these trails since we got here.  But we started to explore more widely when we started hiking with a faculty member here at Lingnan and her family.  Annie teaches sociology, and her husband Ben and their two sons, Oscar and Joseph, are avid hikers.  (Ben is into ultra distance trail racing, too--I may join him for a shorter race in January.)  They have been very friendly to us, providing the boys with some male companionship and all of us with the opportunity to see a lot of Hong Kong we wouldn't have known to explore.

From left: Joseph, Annie, Oscar, Ben, me and Quin (Shannon behind lens)

Scrambling up rocks

Hong Kong's mountains are steep and largely made of granite.  This results in some excellent stream hiking, and Ben has taken us up some streams that are off the beaten path.  The boys love to scramble up the rocks, occasionally stopping to swim in some of the deep pools and kettles that form.  There are places that require some rock climbing, usually with a spotter at the bottom.  Ben mentioned a new hike he found that requires ropes; the boys are giddy with excitement.

View of Tuen Mun from Tai Lam Country Park

Quin and Berkley like it so much because it involves risk.  For that reason, it often provides us an opportunity to talk with them about risk taking, costs and benefits, and how to make good decisions about risk.  We get to explain that this scramble is a good risk because the drop is only 10 feet, while that scramble is a bad one because the drop could be 100.

Plenty of waterfalls and cascades to play in

The boys have become pretty good at it, too.  A couple weekends ago we did an epic 7 mile hike through the very steep hills of Tai Lam.  They were charged up and having a good time the entire way, without complaint or fighting.  Yesterday was just a “short” stream hike—only 4 miles.

Quin, Berkley and Joseph show some attitude

So, more and more, weekend plans involve a big hike somewhere.  I expected to do some hiking here, but I've been surprised by how much all of us have enjoyed the great Hong Kong outdoors and how much it’s come to be part of our experience.

Berkley looks fierce while Quin waits after 
completing a Bear Grylls-style water crossing

1 comment:

  1. These pictures are beautiful. Must be nice to be out there away from the city crowds!