9 Oct 2010
Warren Singh-Bartlett
I was born in Pakistan. My father is English and my mother is Indian. I was brought up between India, Taiwan, Brazil and almost every industrialised city you can think of in England.

I know. When you think of Hong Kong, you probably picture this:

or this

or maybe this

There are roughly 1.3 million people on the island, or around 6,420 per square kilometre, which makes this one of the most densely populated places in the world. Most visitors probably assume that the quality of life in Hong Kong is best measured by the services and convenience for which the city is famous. But Hong Kong’s tightly-packed millions have more than Miuccia Prada and 24-hour delivery services to make their lives more liveable.

It may seem hard to believe but there’s a whole other Hong Kong on the island. A Hong Kong of trees and greenery, of walking paths and hiking trails, of beaches and surfing spots, some of it just minutes from the busiest, most congested parts of the city.

Take the walking trails that come down from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Island’s best known attraction. Most visitors take the old tram up to the top (return journey costs HK$ 56/€5.18 and takes about 20 minutes), hunt for souvenirs in the Terry Farrell-designed terminus and then catch a bus or a taxi back down. But if you’re prepared to take your time, you can walk back down and for most of the well-paved trail, which exits at the top of Conduit Road, you’re deep in dense sub-tropical rainforest.

The trails on the Peak are part of a network that criss-crosses the Island and they’re known collectively as The Hong Kong Trail.

The Trail runs from Victoria Peak to Big Wave Bay. On the map, the Peak and Big Wave are only 11 kilometres apart but the Trail weaves across the Island’s hills, passing through five national parks and runs for a total of 50 kilometres before finally ending up at the Bay

Big Wave is on the Island’s south shore and so it faces directly onto the South China Sea. As a result, the bay gets a lot of waves, including some fairly big swells in the winter and in summer storms and in recent years, it’s become a mecca for Hong Kong’s small but dedicated community of surfers.

Admittedly, when it comes to rollers, Big Wave has nothing on Hawaii’s North Shore but when Hong Kong’s stressed-out millions need to relax in a hurry, they know the answer is as easy as taking the Island Line subway out to Shau Kei Wan and then hopping aboard the #9 bus. The journey takes between 40 – 50 minutes, sometimes less, so as they sit sweltering at the desks in Central and Causeway Bay, it must be enormously comforting for Hong Kong’s office workers to know that if they so desired, in an hour or less, they too could be relaxing under the trees at Big Wave or any of the Island’s other south shore beaches.

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Comments
  1. Good to show a different HK.

    If you have time check-out SHappy Valley or Sha Tin racecourses, it’s really special.

    There is also an interesting exhibition going on: Love HK style.
    It’s on pic Victoria : the Peak gallery. You will, even, find all about dim sum.

    great reading you

    Pat

    Patrick Larbuisson, Saturday, October 09, 2010 17:48
    • Thanks Pat and thanks for the tips too.
      Dim Sum is very much on my menu for today and I’m looking forward to that enormously.
      Are you resident here in HK or have you now moved on?

      Warren Singh-Bartlett, Sunday, October 10, 2010 03:34
  2. I enjoy your writing…this brought back to me nice long time memories…especially the beach which for me was a real discovery at that time…

    Luigi Arveda, Saturday, October 09, 2010 19:38
    • Thanks Luigi. The beach was a real discovery for me, as were the walking trails. I’ve been to HK several times before but have always found the city so engrossing, I’ve never really had time to look around outside it. I’m really glad I could this time.

      Warren Singh-Bartlett, Sunday, October 10, 2010 03:32
  3. thanks Warren! Like Luigi – your pictures and writings bring nice memories from Hong Kong – a very special place’
    Never forget a dinner with my family and
    the kitchenstaff running out from the kitchen to see the funny person ordering sugar for their green tea!!!How about the skies nowadays – can you see a clear sun
    how about the waters!!
    Still quality !! tks and look forward to
    hear more
    it is a pity that Finnair for the time beeing do not fly to Beirut. I would love to read about the city I used to love many
    years ago!!!

    Kerstin, thursday October 07 2010, Sunday, October 10, 2010 04:00
    • Kerstin,
      I’m with you there. Beirut is great city about which I’d love to blog but alas, as of yet, it’s not a Finnair destination. Fingers crossed for the future, though.
      The harbour is not quite as ‘fragrant’ as I remember from previous visits, but Hong Kong has been making a great effort to improve the quality of the water in the bay in recent years, so I guess their hard work is paying off.
      My visit coincided with a rainy spell, so visibility wasn’t great. I’ve still got some posts to upload on HK, but as of tonight, I’ve just arrived in Shanghai and let me tell you, the air here is thick enough to cut with a knife.
      w

      Warren Singh-Bartlett, Monday, October 11, 2010 15:14
  4. Hey Warren,

    thnak you very much for this post! As I love to travel to destinations with a twist, or seek to discover hidden (nature) gems in well known metropolises, this report just hit the mark.

    For me, places like that are the icing of the quality cake of traveling! Keep ‘em coming! Best wishes,

    Rouja, Sunday, October 10, 2010 05:30
    • Thanks Rouja and thanks for taking the time to write me comments. I’m sure I speak for the other Hunters when I say that it’s great to get feedback from the folks who are following us. I’m enjoying my trip and I’m happy I’m able to share some of that with my readers. I shall do my best to keep you wanting to travel. With Finnair, of course!
      w

      Warren Singh-Bartlett, Monday, October 11, 2010 15:16

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