At the beginning of this month, Yvonne and I took a trip to Hong Kong for a little adventure together. Since I’ll be away at NOLS most of the summer and she’ll be at an Appalachian Mountain Club camp for the second half of the summer, we won’t get a chance to see each other for a while, so this was a good opportunity for us. Two weeks on the other side of the world, eating lots of food, seeing Yvonne’s cousins and aunts and uncles, being tourists, and doing a little hiking.
|That’s me. Don’t get in my way.|
I’ve never been to Asia before, and it’s been several years since I’ve even left the country (not counting Canada… that’s just next door), so this was a big shock to my senses. Yvonne has been to HK many times, which meant I just followed her around for the two weeks, and enjoyed the ride.
|Cities aren’t my favorite things, but there are mountains here, too. I think I can handle this.|
To start the journey off, we got my least favorite part out of the way– the plane travel. We left Boston at 9 AM, May 7th, and arrived in Hong Kong just before midnight on May 8th, after a little over 30 hours of planes, layovers, and a bus. Not being able to sleep in an airplane makes the 14-hour leg from DC to Tokyo pretty unbearable, but our first day was pretty relaxed, with just some eating and visiting family. Days two through thirteen were quite the opposite of relaxed, although there was plenty of family visiting and eating.
|Yvonne had to finish her homework in the Tokyo airport after almost 24 hours of travel. Good times.|
I learned a few of the basics about Hong Kong in my first day there. First of all, it’s incredibly hot and humid at this time of year. The temperatures ranged from 25 to 35 Celsius, with 75% to 90% humidity. Haze and clouds were pretty common. Being a cool-weather person myself, this made me extremely uncomfortable most of the time, but it was well worth the pain. Also, everywhere inside, as well as all the public transportation, was very well air-conditioned. Phew!
|The forecast for our first week. It was actually much hotter than this.|
And speaking of public transportation, I’ve never seen such a great system (not that I know cities all that well). As soon as we got out of the airport, Yvonne gave me an Octopus Card, which is basically like Boston’s Charlie Card, except instead of swiping it, you can just put it in your wallet and wave the wallet in front of a card reader. This deducts the appropriate amount of money from the card, which depends on your mode of transportation. Buses and subway trains were extremely plentiful, and each ride cost between 0.50 and 2 US dollars. Ferries to the outlying islands (Hong Kong is surrounded by dozens of little islands) cost somewhere around 3 dollars. Even better, most hiking trails were easily accessible within a very short walk from a bus stop.
|Some parts of the city are actually kind of pretty.|
Hong Kong’s government has created several hiking trails over the years, including four long-distance trails that range from 50 to 100 km in length. The region is very densely populated, so the trails pass through or very near some bustling urban environments, but there are dozens of large mountains in the area as well– up to just under 1000 meters high, starting at sea level. Since Yvonne used to work at an experiential education center on one of the less urban islands, she knows several places that we needed to see for hiking in the area.
|Buddhist temples are always nice. Just don’t pay attention to the skyscrapers next door.|
Since I’ll be away for the next month or three, I’ve lined up a series of blog posts about the trip to Hong Kong, focusing mostly on the hiking trips. Also, Yvonne might post a few reports on here while I’m out, as well. Keep an eye out for posts, and I’ll see you at the end of the summer. I hope you like them!