I think one must necessarily get enchanted when staring at the fascinating, tranquil, green hills surrounding the glass/metal city of Hong Kong, towering above the lofty city canopy, reminding that humans’ works, no matter how sophisticated, have not yet come any close competing with the sublime ones of nature. So, me too, being as of late situated in Hong Kong, I was, that afternoon, about to go for my first hike around this rushing city and take a look at how it looks from up there.
It was a bit after 4 pm when I met a friend of mine at Wong Tai Sin underground station, and carrying but one small bag with water and a few snacks each, we started our way towards the upper levels of this world. It took some time and back-and-forth’s till we finally managed to find our way through the labyrinthine complexes of residential skyscrapers found at the city’s ends before we reached the hill’s foot. The route we were about to do was suggested to me by no one but my intuition, upon staring at a random map a couple of hours back. And, of course, my intuition could not have let me down… It was to be a great route!
The first part of it was a concrete-stepped path, heading north, east and north again through a beautiful subtropical forest. Gracefully enough, it was completely bereft of people. We only encountered birds, a pack of stray dogs settling up there, and lots of bloody mosquitos. We also passed by what must, at some time, had been a Buddhist temple, but now was but a half-ruined homeless peoples’ squat.
The views had already started to open up at the upper levels of the forest, and upon finally reaching the ridge, they showed up in their entire magnificence… The vast urban agglomeration expanding unstoppably along the coasts and up the slopes, with its tremendous glass constructions shimmering blindingly under the fierce afternoon sunshine, as if suns themselves. Equally brightly was also shining the surface of the straits between Hong Kong and Kowloon, so rendering merely discernible at all the numerous larger and smaller vessels slowly crossing its waters. And all the hills around, being not able to also reflect any significant portion of the sun’s radiance, were owing their eminence within the whole scenery to their imposing masses alone.
That’s pretty much what we were marveling at while striding along that road we found at the ridge, towards Kowloon peak. After a couple of kilometers, we reached that 180° curve where we found some local families having driven there in their cars to enjoy the sunset from that nice viewpoint located at the spot. Exactly there was also the trailhead to Kowloon peak, which our destination was. Soon after we started on the trail, my eye caught a sign warning – for some unintelligible to me reason – that it’s not allowed to proceed any further.
That was a very nice hike, a rather real hike. There was no concrete or steps of any sort to walk upon, just rock and soil. It was, for the most part running through tall grass, at times much taller than myself, so resembling a tunnel, and at others short enough to let us observe how the city was slowly turning on its artificial illumination, as the sun was plunging behind the horizon.
By the time we finally reached Kowloon peak (602 AMSL), the darkness was profound. Or, at least, as profound as it could be… It was unbelievable! I had never before seen a city from above as bright as this one! Nearly every single window seemed to be emitting light… white, red, blue, green, light of every color… steady, or dynamic light… giant screens, or entire building-faces transformed into screens, playing any sort of colorful presentations… laser beams flying madly above the city… light everywhere… too much light… how much energy… the 21st century! Phantasmagoria!