The Asian hub of lights and color, Hong Kong, welcomed my most spontaneous trip thus far. I was in India for less than 3 days when I was asked to fly out to HK for an assessment centre! Adventure in disguise.
A colorful mix of India and Singapore, Hong Kong charmed me with its mountaineous landscape and windy winter. A refreshing blend of corporate city life and nature. After a day and a half of rigorous testing, I let my hair down and became a tourist.
I stayed with some distant family at the palatial Park View Apartments, up in Hong Kong island, which is home to some incredible hiking trails. I ventured on one with a couple of friends who frequent such trails. Our aim was to conquer Mount Parker. After a relatively simple stretch of 45 minutes, we reached the base of the mountain. I had anticipated adventure, but not exactly the kind with a narrow, undefined, uphill climb amid rocks, mud and bushes. Did I mention deadly?! It struck me midway that I had never been mountain climbing or on a real hike before. The thrill was indescribable, the climb HARD, and the view breathtaking! I exhausted my physical stamina midway on the second hill, but given the slope of the path, turning back wasn’t even a choice. Plus I wouldn’t have traded the triumph of conquering the third hill and echoing victory at the peak, for all the world! It was the adventure of a lifetime (until the next time). Apparently, Hong-Kongers are avid hikers, and when they tread unknown trails, they mark the path with ribbons to help other hikers find their way. God bless them!
I spent the rest of my time in HK dragging my sore feet (from the 4 gruelling hours of the climb) around more touristy places. Victoria Peak has some spectacular vantage points and feels a lot like the hill-top of Mussoorie. The ride down on the tram is rather interesting; the track is inclined at 45 degrees and we sit facing the back of the tram, experiencing mild vertigo!
The cable car ride from Tung Chung to Lantau Island is picturesque, though incredibly long, bordering on boring. At the island is a gigantic Buddha statue and a gorgeous view of the hilly landscape.
The skyline of HK is very vibrant, and unlike Singapore, no two buildings look the same. Each night at 8 pm, these buildings co-ordinate their lights and put together what is claimed to be Asia’s largest light & sound show. I watched it from Victoria harbor, and thought it was a bit of a let-down, rather uncoordinated and nothing too fancy. It was almost worth it though, for the breezy sea view and a shaky ferry ride. Avenue of Stars, the Asian version of the Hollywood walk of fame, is another hot-spot to watch the show, and a nice place to hang, as long as you are well-equipped to cope with the cold sea breeze.
The highlight of my trip, beside the hike, was really meeting a childhood friend, who is spending 2 semesters at Hong Kong University. The last time I’d seen her consisted of a lot of 7th-grader stuff, science projects and birthday parties. 8 years later, life’s a lot more complicated and friends a lot more valued. Digging into our bag of memories was awesome, and catching up felt so much like old times!
So that was quite a start to the December I hadn’t anticipated. At least the week was cold, (fake) white, and very Christmasy!