Not your usual view of Victoria Harbour :)
Click on the above image to get a seriously impressive
view of Hong Kong! :b
This past Monday, it was gloomy and gray, with patches of rain coming down over the course of the day and the temperatures dropping dramatically down below the 10 degree Celsius mark after night fell. Not only was going hiking out of the question but it felt like quite an effort to leave my apartment and head out for a dinner I had committed to going to weeks ago over in Prince Edward.
Happily though, after a few depressingly cold and rainy days, the weather has perked up considerably. And on Thursday morning, I enjoyed the kind of glorious view of the northern section of Hong Kong Island from across Victoria Harbour over in Tsim Sha Tsui that gets you realizing how absolutely beautiful Hong Kong is on a high visibility day.
Yesterday morning, I was back in the same area and enjoying that view that takes in that famous forest of skyscrapers but also green hills and mountains rising behind and above them. A visitor from the USA standing next to them, visibly stunned, turned to tell me that he considered Hong Kong to have the two best harbor views in the world along with Sydney. I, in turn, was moved to tell him that before I moved to the Big Lychee, whenever I visited Hong Kong, I'd make it a point to go over to the edge of Victoria Harbour over at Tsim Sha Tsui to drink in the views there at least once on each of my trips here.
But what I didn't have the heart to tell him is that Hong Kong, including Victoria Harbour and the land to its north and south, is so much more beautiful when viewed from the hills rather than closer to sea level. On a related note: while the views from the northern section of Victoria Peak's circular path can be pretty stunning, I actually prefer the views to be had from less well known hilltops, including those of High West and Siu Ma Shan. And the top of Siu Ma Shan (and that of nearby Mount Butler) was where I decided to take a Japanese friend on his first Hong Kong hike earlier today!
When I checked the visibility levels on the Hong Kong Observatory website this morning, the readings for Sai Wan Ho was 40 kilometers, so I figured we'd be getting pretty clear views on our hike. Even so, I was unprepared for how much we had lucked out today -- in that today may well have been the very first time that I could see Lantau Island and also the mountain ranges by the Plover Cove Reservoir way up in the northeastern New Territories from up on Siu Ma Shan!
Adding to how amazing and unusual this all was is that we're currently in the middle of winter, where the temperatures often can be ideal for hiking but the visibility levels less so. All in all, today was close to being the perfect hiking day for me, with: temperatures that were cool enough so I didn't sweat like crazy yet warm enough so that I was fine wearing just two layers of clothing on my body along with a pair of long trousers to protect the bottom half of me; the kind of bright blue skies and high visibility I no longer take for granted; and the kind of hike company who could appreciate how beautiful Hong Kong can be like I do even after all these years. :)