Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Hiking again. I mean, yay, more hiking!

Loyal readers (Katharine) will notice that I haven't posted much recently - that's because nothing interesting happened. Believe me, I'm doing you a favour. The weather's been crap, we've been ill lots (which just goes to show that those surgical masks are a waste of gauze) and we haven't done much.

Stage 2 of the Lantau trail this weekend, which reminded me of just how very much I hate steps and or steep slopes, when you have no choice but to climb them for over an hour. We got the ferry to Mui Wo ("Plum Nest" in Chinese - aka Silvermine Bay) and then a bus for a couple of stops to a random middle-of-nowhere place called Nam Shan, which gave me an opportunity to practice my fledgling Cantonese on the bus driver. Of course there was the requisite toilet block, rain shelter and map board at Nam Shan, it being the start of a Lantau Trail stage. Also a large, empty rubbish bin surrounded by trash, which we very conscientiously picked up. Under the wooden arch, and onto the trail proper.

(I should point out that Stage 1 of the trail involves walking up the road from Mui Wo - if you are familiar with the standard of driving on Lantau, you'll understand why we won't be doing that one.)

The climb starts here. And goes on for the rest of your life. I didn't moan much, preferring instead to let my asthmatic wheezing do the talking. Let's just skip over this part.

So eventually you reach something worth seeing - a cool open plateau between the twin heights of Sunset Peak. Scattered across the plateau are about two dozen little huts. They are made of stone and concrete, and I'd be lying if I said they were visually appealling. They were built between the wars as a retreat for missionaries working in China. I'm sure at one time they had a lovely view over the little fishing island of Chek Lap Kok - as I've mentioned before, thanks to the world's most aggressive land reclamation, the island is now 10 times the size it was then, and home to considerably more aeroplanes. The huts are kind of sweet in a way - each one is different, and many have a little verandah, or steps down to what might be thought of as a garden (if you have particularly active imagination). There's even a little swimming pool, made by damming a stream.

We skirted around Sunset Peak, which at 869m is the second highest peak on Lantau. Ross was annoyed when we got home that we didn't actually go to the peak, but we were very close! On the descent we saw some beautiful views across Lantau to the typhoon shelter of Peng Chau, and the rather exclusive-looking beach and village of Pui O. We'll be heading there next time it's a beachable day. By the way, the descent was also extraordinarily steep - our legs were jittering uncontrollably by the time we reached the bus stop. And I do Pilates.

Back to Mui Wo on the bus, where we explored the beach (nothing special) and laughed at the little dogs pulling along a man on his trike. Obligatory lime soda at China Bear, and the ferry back to Central so that I could embark on another supermarket crawl in search of ciabatta.

We got the 6 o'clock ferry from Lantau, so arrived back in Central about 6.45. This is my favouritest time in HK, as the sky turns lilac, then darkens to purple as the yellowy lights start to burn out of the windows of the city. Soon the sky is inky blue, and in the contrast the lights flash a brighter white. A rare thing these days, as we've been immersed in cloud for weeks. But the temperature is on the up, and spring is coming.

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