Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hong Kong City Hike

After our trip to the Big Buddha, we decided to attempt to hike up Victoria Peak, the tallest mountain on Hong Kong island. There's a tram up it, but the line was incredibly long, and we'd already taken that cable car ride, so...
Unfortunately, the walking path up to Victoria Peak is pretty inadequate. You have to go through a lot of the city before you really hit the forest of the mountain, so the path keeps breaking off and restarting a little ways away. Eventually, we were walking on a road where first the sidewalks disappeared, then the road narrowed to one lane. I was pretty uncomfortable with it, since the taxis sped through this area with little concern to any pedestrians, so we turned back. The above picture shows our rather inadequate ascent.
We tried going up blocked-off paths a couple times. You can see they weren't very well-maintained, plus they petered out after 100 meters or so.
After we gave up, we went to an awesome public aviary in Hong Kong park. It was free, but it was the best aviary we've ever been to! Our personal favorite was the magnificent golden pheasant seen above. Andy agrees with me that it looks like a box of crayons.
Also in the aviary were cool shallow-rooted tropical trees, which have to grow these huge buttresses to make themselves bottom-heavy. After the aviary, we gorged ourselves on Indian food at Chungking Mansions and headed back home.

Unfortunately, we lost our rose-tinted glasses through which we saw Hong Kong when we came back to Shenzhen. Hong Kong is so much more concerned with the health, safety, and happiness of its citizens than Shenzhen is. Where Hong Kong has wonderful public gardens and lots of PSAs warning about Dengue fever and such, Shenzhen has huge, gaping holes in the sidewalk with no warnings or traffic cones to keep you from falling in and braining yourself. The people are more polite in Hong Kong too - they sometimes actually wait for the next subway instead of trampling those in their paths to shove into an already overcrowded car. Our first welcome back to Shenzhen was a rat we saw on the walk home! Welcome back to the mainland! Anyway, we'll forget about Hong Kong in a few days and get re-accustomed to the wilderness of Shenzhen.

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