Hong Kong: The Dragon's Back

photo: One of many spectacular views from the Dragon's Back

Looking down a steep hill to a small town and a couple islands off the coast

The day dawned bright and cool, so it was finally time (after breakfast at Joy Cuisine) to walk the Dragon's Back. I took the MTR to Shau Kei Wan on the Island Line, grabbed a couple buns at the station for lunch, and caught the #9 bus to To Tei Wan Tsuen. This isn't, strictly speaking, the actual beginning of "The Dragon's Back" as there's a significant spiderweb of trails all across Hong Kong Island. The one I started on (with several other people from the bus) leads about a kilometre into that web and joins up with the Dragon's Back. Which is a trail that follows a hill spine between the town of Shek O and Tai Tam Bay. It's the single most recommended trail in a territory littered with hills and parks and really good trails. And now I know why. Holy crap that's a great trail. The views are utterly outstanding all the way along, and at several places you can see both sides at once. The sun shone, the temperature pegged around 21C, and the wind did its damnedest to knock us all off the trail: almost perfect conditions for hiking. If you want solitude, this isn't the trail for you: it's a popular place, and I usually had a couple people in sight at any given time. Normally I'm all about solitude when hiking, but I guess it's expectations: I knew this one was popular (and it's an easy bus ride from one of the world's most crowded metropolises) and I didn't mind at all. The Dragon's Back itself is maybe two kilometres long, but the big arc that takes you around to Big Wave Bay that's recommended by both my guidebook and the free local Hiking & Cycling guide brings the total to 8.5 km. It probably took me about three hours, maybe a bit more with wandering around Big Wave Bay at the end. The part of the hike that wasn't "The Dragon's Back" was significantly less popular and less interesting, with very infrequent views. But that one stretch ...

photo: The Dragon's Back

A look down a stretch of trail with fantastic views downhill to the ocean

I caught a mini-bus back to Shau Kei Wan (he only took cash, no Octopus - how bizarre!) where I wandered through the local market for a few minutes. Then I caught the MTR to Sky100: the sky had clouded over, but the visibility was still good, so it seemed like a good time to try them out. They were offering their attraction for a mere $126HK ($21CAN) because one quarter of the floor was closed for a party. As it turned out, they hadn't taken over the most interesting part of the view, the harbour. And you could pretty much fill in the missing part by standing in the corners nearest the closed off section. Sky100 is on the Kowloon side, on the 100th floor of a new tower (and by no means the top floor), 393m above ground level. I arrived around 1700: sunset was at 1740 (I didn't notice it, I guess it was on the other side of the building and/or behind a hill). So I got shots in daylight, dusk, and dark. It would have been nice to see the Symphony of Lights from up there, but I wasn't staying until 2000: I left around 1830.

photo: Downtown Hong Kong from Sky100

Hong Kong - peninsula and island - at night

I went looking for a couple Chinese movies I like, "Painted Skin" and "Painted Skin: The Resurrection." Weird but enjoyable movies that I was hoping to acquire on BluRay (with English subs). No luck: the first is out of print, and HMV only had the DVD of the second. HMV mostly does Hollywood stuff, so I tried a local place recommended by the hotel: no joy there either. DVDs, like many things here, cost the same or slightly more than they do at home - but then you'd have to deal with languages and region-locking. So it may be just as well.