Hong Kong …..An Island of Wonders
Hong Kong is about walking with nearly 180 miles of hiking trails excluding the iconic subway arteries, beaches, woodlands, mountains, walkways, escalators, connectors and steps (Po Lin monastery, Lantau). Hong Kong has a secret ingredient…’distance shortener’ i.e. the stunning views of the countryside whether it is Aberdeen, Tai Tam and Shek O parks, the beaches or the trails of Kowloon and the New Territories, the islands of Lamma, Lantau, Cheng Chau and Peng Chau.
Vermillion, yellows and blues framed in opulent green; butterflies doing the tango; glistening torso with taut muscles and tiny droplets, Swarovski or sweat; lithe bodies in designer togs sprinting past; seniors enjoying the cool breeze; stroller moms giving way to weary commuters returning to their bases; dog walkers leashed onto dogs of different breeds and sizes: These are vignettes from the much traversed Bowen Road trail, a 2.5 kilometer walking/jogging track clinging to its pristine allure with occasional vehicles.. the trespassers. The climb is an ecological treat of splendorous vistas amid mountainous landscape and continuous constructions….worth the strain of climbing the steps. The way the old is being replaced by new, the green cover of the Peak area might soon be replaced by bricks.
The Bowen Road trail is approachable from the Peak Tram, the Mid Levels end or from Happy Valley/Stubbs road. We start from Magazine Gap and Bowen Road intersection near the Peak Tram station, Mid-Levels towards Stubbs Road, Happy Valley past low rise apartments and larger fancier mansions. The road turns left joining with Barrett Road and is a horizontal walk, and my friend, a seasoned hiker said a fairly easy one, a concession for me.
Bowen Road trail is a favorite of joggers and walkers as it follows a picturesque route ‘a walk in the sky’ looking down the crowded Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Happy Valley. The awe factor is the natural canopy and a bird’s eye view of the vertical city, the Happy Valley race course and the waters beyond. We cross paths with children and their nannies, dog walkers, the occasional cyclists and tourists with their guide books and maps.
Mid-way is the Lover’s Rock or Yan Yuen-Suk, hidden by dense foliage and decked in colorful buntings, lotus flowers and vermillion paints. The 9 meter high granite monolith is believed to have the power of giving happy marriages for unmarried women especially if they worship it during the Maiden’s Day Festival in mid-August. Signs of recent visitations are there in mesmerizing smell of joss sticks and flower offerings. We spy hidden lovers sneaking few minutes/hours in the foliage and one cannot blame them considering the crowded living in tiny Hong Kong apartments. For us it the unobstructed view of Victoria Harbor and the high rises. It is a clear day and we are lucky. We stay here for a few hours snooping around, admiring the tiny vermilion temples, the moss-covered steps and luxuriating in the placidity.
Back on the trail and peace is shattered by ongoing concretization of a hazardous slope, the soon-to-be-grey an eye-sore in the green belt. The exercise paraphernalia along the trail is an encouragement and few seniors are making full use of the largese. I stop to watch Tai Chi movements, fluid as the stream nearby.
Refreshed or de-fuzzed of the temporary “Island headache’… we step closer to the exit/entrance, the Stubbs Road/Happy Valley end, and wait at the bus stop to be transported back to commercialism of Hong Kong.
- The entire path is around 3km from start.. MidLevels at intersection of Garden and Robinson Roads to end at Stubbs Road in Happy Valley.