Supermarket Auchan had an activity with a high fun factor last month. Customers could grab their own crabs at Auchan from baby tubs : )! Plastic nets would prevent the crabs from climbing out. One month later they prepackaged the crabs, and closed the nets on the tubs. Maybe the the nets proved to be too inconvenient. The crabs don’t give up without a fight!
For my last day in Hong Kong I made a small hike to Big Wave Bay. For this I walked again through the cemetery, but instead of going right to Shek-O Beach I went left, a shorter route to the Bay. Such a nice bay it is! The village looks like it is totally isolated, but in fact it is also easily reachable by bus. Its peacefulness made for a big contrast when I went to dinner with a friend later on the day in a busy shopping centre! Suzhou is very relaxed compared to all this.
The first part of the Dragon’s Back trail was a concrete road, but soon I found myself on a sandy path that meandered through the shady bushes on the side of the mountain. To my surprise I could spot many butterflies, there were always a few dancing around. The cicades in the background and the lack of traffic noises, made me totally forget I was close to one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
When the path finally reached the mountain ridge there were excellent views over the sea, and surrounding islands, beaches and villages, including Big Wave Village, and Shek-O Beach. Also nice to see were the bird of prey gliding in thermals in search for food. But as I found out not carrying something to cover my head was a major mistake: there was hardly any shadow to be found on the ridge!
The reward was Shek-O Beach, a quick and short bus ride away over the main road to which I descended at the end of the ridge. The village had several laid back places to eat and drink, nothing fancy though, and a beautiful beach where you could hire chairs or sun screens. The rocks and the beach almost looked like the south of France! After a few drinks with a fellow hiker a bus took me back to an MTR station. Recommended!
The starting point of my Dragon’s Back hike was the Chai Wan MTR-station (Metro), easy to be reached from my hotel at MTR-station Tin Hau. The station reminded me a little bit of a miniature Hoog Catharijne, the Dutch shopping centre famous for its labyrinth structure in which it is impossible to find the exit. But once I found it it was pretty easy to locate the entrance to the Cape Collinson cemetery, the quickest way up the mountain to the actual trail.
Cape Collinson cemetery was layed out on the steep and winding flanks of Collinson Mountain. The rising dead seemed to mirror the high rises in front of it, an important difference being that the latter did not have stairs but elevators. In the already scorching heat of June walking in the cemetery around noon was rather disorienting, also because of the glinstering white marble and concrete around. Time wise I could have planned my hike better…
No wonder that there were small pavilions placed on strategic points at the cemetery; much deserved shadow for visiting family members and maintenance workers. At the back a moist and shadowy flight of stairs took me finally to the bushes that were topping the cemetery. Here was a plateau called ‘Pottinger Gap’, a small ‘gap’ between the mountains which showed the first signage of the Dragons Back trail.
In May I booked a small holiday in Hong Kong. Primarily known as a finance and shopping centre I also found out that it was an excellent place for hiking. 28 percent of its area consists of natural parks. Perfect since I also wanted to see some nature! Websites showed fine hiking offerings on Hong Kong Island, as well as in the New Territories, all easily reached by public transport. The Dragon’s Back trail, which I wanted to walk, was even mentioned as best Urban trail in the world by Time Out magazine in 2004.
I booked the trip with low budget airline Spring Airlines. Risky since more expensive airlines seem to get more priority when it’s busy, and it can be busy at Pudong (the largest of two airports in Shanghai, the other being the more regional Hongchiao). Spring Airline’s plane definitely had the smallest seat pitch of any airplane I have ever sat on: I felt almost like standing instead of sitting…
The approach to Hong Kong International Airport provided beautiful views of the area. Showing multiple contrasts: that between high-rise apartment buildings and the green hills, and that of the islands of Hong Kong and the sea. Its blueness contrasted also nicely with the earth colors of the mouth of the Yangtse river, when leaving Pudong.
Living in China has made me increasingly aware that the relations between mainland Chinese and HK-Chinese can be politically and culturally tense at times. As a British colony Hong Kong fared better then the adjecent Chinese empire or state, which made some of its inhabitants doubt the advantages having been handed back to China 20 years ago.
In Hong Kong mainland Chinese are sometimes seen as underdeveloped and corrupt simpletons, whose growing influence can only spell out worse to come for their relatively open but also slightly stagnant society. The other way around Hong Kong people are often seen as arrogant snobs, admired for their shopping paradise, but on the other hand a part of China that never should have been given to a Western country in the first place.
I found myself on a rather cloudy day at Dianshan Lake. Happily the flowering yellow rapeseed lightened the atmosphere. A new experience for me since in the Netherlands I associate rapeseed with industrialized agriculture.
Dianshan Lake lies between Suzhou & Shanghai. It is a popular destination for day trips: Jinxi, one of the better known water towns is situated right next to it. During the past years there have been many building activities around the lake. Gated communities targeted at the richer middle class, in search for a better quality of live outside the city. Housing here also provides an alternative for people who are not originally from Shanghai, and thus are not allowed to buy a house there. Continue reading
Spring in China is an extraordinary happening. Trees and shrubs are literally bursting with bright flowers. Knowing their fondness for bright colours it seems only natural that Chinese admire tulips too. A tulip exhibition in Daning Lingshi Park proved popular with families on one of the first warm weekends of the year. Continue reading
A small selection of fruits bought at Auchan. The brown Longan, also called Dragon Eyes for obvious reasons. The fiery looking Dragonfruit, with a melon like pulp inside with small seeds. The green fruits are Jujube’s (also called Chinese dade), resembling and tasting small apples, but with a prune like pit.