It’s that time of year: resolutions all made with the best of intentions but broken with the first hint of temptation. So what better way to instil that additional element of motivation than to initiate a lifestyle change that benefits others as well as yourself. But, what?! 100km In 30 days?! That’s never achievable!
Or is it?
Growing up far away, in the tranquil Devonshire countryside in the South West of England, all you learn of Hong Kong is about....
....Skyscrapers; the endless buildings that tower above.
....People; millions of people, everywhere, packed in to the endless buildings that tower above.
....Humidity; weather that makes you sweat when you breath and that makes being outside around the millions of people, a very uncomfortable experience.
So in short, the understanding that you gain is that Hong Kong is a concrete jungle; one that will own you and dominate you without offering the respite, rejuvenation and escape that nature offers....
...On arriving here three years ago I was delighted to discover that this assumption was entirely wrong.
Incredibly, of the 1108 square kilometres that make up ‘Hong Kong’ around three quarters of the land here is in fact ‘countryside’. The urban sprawl is not as overwhelming as first imagined and the excellent public transport keeps you wonderfully connected to some truly fascinating natural environments. Many of these places offering breathtaking panoramic views that leave you feeling like you’re a world away from the bustling metropolis you feared you’d never escape.
Sir Murray MacLehose did many great things in his reign as the Governor of Hong Kong in the 1970s; one thing that he established is left for us all to enjoy to this very day: The MacLehose Hiking Trail. And enjoy we should, as the 100km hiking trail stretches from the beautiful beaches of Sai Kung, to the majestic mountains in the New Territories and beyond to the resplendent reservoirs of this trails’ conclusion in Tuen Mun. Divided into sections, this trail (like others) can be enjoyed here and there in bitesize chunks, without needing to be an Ultra Marathon runner to get involved.
Some of my favourite hikes are along the MacLehose Trail or at least branching off it. There’s always something totally empowering about hiking to the top of Lion Rock, a mountain that sits so proudly, overlooking Kowloon and beyond to Hong Kong Island. This mountain, which is synonymous with the hard working spirit of Hong Kongers, allows you to sit above the city and gain some perspective. Walking to the top of Lion Rock is not only good for the body, but it’s good for the soul; something that is too often neglected with all the hard work that this city demands of you.
Sharp Peak, in the far eastern reaches of Sai Kung, is one of the most physically challenging hikes that Hong Kong has to offer with the endless, steep, rocky inclines. The warning signs let you know that this isn’t a route for the faint hearted; however what makes you really weak on this hike, is the unbelievable 360 degree view that you experience when you reach the summit. Mind blown. As a further reward at the end of this trail you get to enjoy the glittering golden sands of Ham Tin Wan; for the real adventurer you can hire a tent and stay the night so that you can enjoy another trek in the morning. The lack of mobile reception out here allows you to really embrace and enjoy that feeling of escaping the City.
Not forgetting the beauty offered on Lantau Island, you can catch the MTR to Tung Chung and enjoy a fairly level 15 km hike all the way to the old fishing town of Tai O. Taking in along the way: small farming villages, mangrove swamps and shaded woodlands before hugging a coastal trail on the approach to a place that is as far removed from modern Hong Kong life as you are likely to encounter. I always make sure to enjoy some of the local delights that are available knowing that i’ve earned it.
So 100km in a month? You could just walk the whole of The MacLehose Trail in a couple of days and get it out of the way, but for most of us (myself included) that’s not easily achievable. There are lots of ways a fitness coach could calculate it and break it down for how best to reach this target, but that kind is ‘restriction’ won’t make this the enjoyable process and lifestyle change that I hope for this to be. So my plan is simple; once a week I’ll wonder off into the depths of one of Hong Kong’s nature reserves and enjoy a hike; breathing the fresh air that the trees and plants provide. This should make up for around half of the target and help to restore a little of my sanity in this city. So for the remaining 50km, and with the weather cool enough for it to be possible, I’ll walk home from work once a week (Causeway Bay to Sham Shui Po). This will add nearly an extra 10km to my total each week whilst also allowing me to enjoy riding the cross star ferry, which never seems to get dull and always gives you the chance to remember what a beautiful city this is at it’s heart.
To make up the remaining kilometres, I’ll take the opportunity of an evening to enjoy an urban hike; there are some truly spectacular vantage points around. Whilst it’s easy not to make the effort to walk somewhere and spend a few moments to bask in the effervescent lights of the city, it’s always worth it. My favourite place for enjoying sunset is Garden Hill in Sham Shui Po, and it is equally magnificent there after dark as the chaos of everyone’s commute home can be enjoyed from above.
Hong Kong is a city that demands hard work, but it has many hidden, beautiful and peaceful places just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. I now have the extra motivation to go seek out some more of these places; see you out there?
Blog written by Ryan Lock
Cover Photo by Musheer Ahmed
Blog photos all taken by Ryan Lock