Trying to Keep Up

Life has been moving at a light-speed recently, and finding the time to blog has been hard. Because even the everyday “normal” things and activities are adventurous and new, it’s difficult to remember, let alone explain, all that happens.

Last Wednesday I did a short solo hike on a trail called Dragon’s Back, which follows the steep up-and-down coastline on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island. Getting to the trailhead required taking a bus, the subway, and then after a brief period of wandering around Shau Kei Wan finding the third bus that got me to the start of my hike. I thought I would get some weird looks on the subway, wearing my hiking boots and shorts and synthetic t-shirt, but because this is Hong Kong, no one paid any mind. Come to think of it, no one even gave a second glance to the girl in a bright red leather sleeveless dress (I think it was a dress), or the guy with the front half of his hair dyed electric blue. After watching the mirrors of the double-decker bus scrape the high concrete walls as the bus barreled around the edge of the mountain road, I was happy to be on my own two feet as I started up the steep trail. I immediately entered a small bamboo forest (casual) and then was thrust out into bright sunlight and humid air as I climbed up to Shek O peak.

I passed some young kids in jeans and flip-flops, carrying nothing but their cameras, and felt a little foolish looking down at my hiking boots and feeling the weight of my backpack on my back. But I soon forgot all about them as I reveled in the fresh air and the view of open sea and sky, especially after the last few weeks of skyscrapers, cramped buses, and sardine-can elevators. The views were spectacular, with the ocean and surrounding islands clearly visible and green peaks stretching on into the distance. The hike ended at a beautiful little beach, with locals surfing (or at least attempting to in the tiny waves). After a quick nap and some ice cream, I headed back to reality.

Hiking gave me some time to reflect on just how different my life has become since leaving home. Inevitably, I thought about a solo hike in western Massachusetts I had completed exactly 4 weeks before, only a few days before I had left for Hong Kong. That day I broke trail through over a foot and a half of snow, and saw only three people during my eight hours on the mountain. The silence was as deep as the snow and the cold air cleared my mind as I prepared for my journey halfway around the world.

As I stood on Shek O peak, sweating in the humid Hong Kong air and reliving the cold snowy peak of Greylock, I become all too aware of how much had happened in the short four weeks since that time, and how much more I will do while here. But beyond that, I realized that this was exactly the kind of thing I came to Hong Kong for – to put my life in perspective by experiencing the world from a new vantage point. Only by hiking in HK could I realize the valuable lessons learned from the hike that day in Massachusetts. As I continue to experience the world from my newfound vantage point, I hope I also continue to learn new things about myself and where I stand in the world.

Below are pictures from both hikes; enjoy!

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