Leap of Faith

Photography

Looking to Sunset Peak

It was my second attempt on this route. Knowing the fact that I may get lost, I could slip and fall because of steepness and natural of terrain, I could chicken out because of height. The mentality of these half day hike journeys is that once I started, it has to be finished; if I don’t, I’d come back with a much better prep. This route by all means is nothing like the Alps’, but in my heart this is exactly what it is.

I had grabbed on anything that gives me a pull, even I had to crawl to get that grip.

I’d returned to the same spot where I got lost last time at the downhill rocky stream (there should be a way up after going down to certain point). I was really cautious from that point on. Not only because I was not certain with the direction, it’s because I did not know what’s ahead. Would it lead to another route that requires more advance climbing? Would there be wet spots where I would not get any grip on? Would there be cliffs where an excessive amount of courage is needed?

All the above doubts could cloud my judgement. So instead, I only focused on what’s in front of eyes and tackle them one by one.

Waving in the air

Near the last stretch to the peak, I came to a cliff where I had to slide across. On my left side, there was not a landing spot, my right side had a gap (not quite exactly a solid gripping spot) between two huge rocks, and there’s not enough head room to stand. A rather awkward position to manuever. Not only i had to crawl 2 meters on a rock that was only 1-foot wide without a solid grip, I had to switch from that crawling position to uplight position on a 4-inch wide tip of a rock next to nothing. That’s when I really wanted wind to stop for a moment. When all that was over, I said to myself I had completed a stunt.

The sun was right behind where I was climbing, which made it rather cool on a fine 26ºC day. As I was reaching the top, I began hearing chatter of people, I felt the warmth from the sun. The sunlight gradually reappeared as I reached the Lantau Peak (934m).

The Peak

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I considered this trip as a test. When life seems to be not moving ahead, I want to try and prove myself worthy. While It’s not imaginable of what’s ahead, nobody can predict the future, but one can make a huge influence on the outcome.

Days ago it was the HK Food & Culture Book: From Dim Sum to Abalone book launch party, the book that I contributed as a photographer. I’d been thankful enough knowing the team. I invited several other people to celebrate with us. That might be my first time ever inviting people from all different circles. A blogger/world traveller we recently met in person for the first time, we’d been following each other for a while which she just happened to settle in the city for a few years. She’s been really honest in giving me feedbacks on my blog and photography. My former classmate in secondary school. He offers me opportunity in his startup tea business. This was the main reason I learn about Chinese tea. Then there’s my sister who’s willing to be around backing me up. I introduced all of them to each other.

 

The Backyard

Photography

White Flowers

It has been my third hike since the my last punishing climb to the highest mountain in Lantau Island. I intentionally picked these routes on Lantau Island. I wished to remind myself that I’ll return for the challenge.

I never bother to know about the island until recently. Now, I could at least confidently point out some of the attraction sites on a map.

Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong. It’s one of the rarest location where not a lot of urbanization can be found, especially on the south and west ends. It’s mountainous and so it was designated for the country parks and conservation zones. There’s limited access to the public with only public transportation allowed (buses and taxis). A special permit is needed for the in order to drive on the closed roads which connects most attractions of the island. Only a quota of 25 would be given on each day and applicants can only apply once a month. No wonder the air feels so much fresher here!

Me, at a peak

Our famed Tai O Village in Lantau (famed as the Hong Kong version of Venice) is popular for most Hong Kongese to visit on the weekends. To me in many ways, It’s similar to most other Outlying Islands, shops, eateries, settings, etc. It gets crowded due to the limited transportation connecting back to the city and its remote geographical location (west end of Lantau). Queues are painsickening from Tung Chung after 11am and 5pm on the way back. Good thing is It’s totally avoidable if you research a little more.

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Just when you thought this much-protected island is so sacred out of our precious land or we like relating it as our ‘backyard’. Our Government has in fact rolled out a long-term proposal to develop Lantau as an outdoor activity hub. To most of our wiser minds, we quickly decoded the outdoor activity hub as a smoke screen. Obviously they intentionally leave out the housing plans (which our government is desperately needing flat lands) at this stage yet due to the opposing voice.

Sea of Mountains

It’s fair to say the face of Lantau will in stages evolve into something else. There will be more land reclamation, concrete buildings, open traffic in the coming days. There’re two questions we must ask are – ‘Are we ordinary citizens wanting all these changes?’ , ‘Is the greater good only for the large corporates, real estate developers, the wealthy elites?’

This Deep, Thus Far

Photography

Dashing

I was one of the few madmen gone far on this off-road hiking path in Tap Mun (Grass Island). The way to the highest point of the tallest mountain on the island required me ducking through the dense woods, bushes and tall grass. It’s one of those paths where I got no clear direction and hardly any distance guide with my line of sight. I would not know where I was heading until reaching the higher ground. In the end, It’s worth noting there was not much to see in terms of scenery.

In direction

The memorable part of it all was at the skirt of this mountain. It was a gloomy atmosphere, full of tree branches that were not easily bent. The ground was wet and muddy until I stepped into it while measuring a jump across the ponds of water. If it’s the Amazon, it’s exactly where the crocs find the feasts at. I’d not venture going across it. I wasted no time and got out of this swamp once I found what it seemed to be a way out, with sun beams penetrated through this dark swamp. That was my version of Man vs. Wild.

There was a price to pay and this time a bit more than the minor scratches on my arms. It’s my pair of sunglasses. I lost mine while busy figuring out my way.

Trees

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The more I think about my work life, the more I feel of an urgency to go outdoor. I somehow found myself ended up in these mini adventures. I’m lucky and native. One thing I’m certain is, if i had a companion; i would not dare going as often, this deep, thus far. 

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Getting a shade

Tap Mun was an island I wanted to explore since the beginning. The open grass land and long high cliffs along the shore remind me of the signature landscape in Ireland. That explains the other name it holds – Grass Island. Just like it sounds, it’s full of grass and plenty of cows. It’d be interesting to know how the cows ended up on this island.

Spider

My journey to Tap Mun was an expert coordination in timing, needed 2 hours to get there (which is plenty in Hong Kong). I got on a bus that runs only on Sundays/Public Holidays every 30 minutes, then a boat ride to the island that runs every hour. I later found out there were plenty of speed boats crossing between.

Me

There always have been rewards afterwards. I’d like to keep them simple – just to fulfill my stomach. A kimchi fried rice, a takeaway iced mocha and some quality sunset stroll by the waterfront in Sai Kung.