Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new leader. In my opinion, it is an absolute and undeniable TOP 1 in terms of places I visited with a bicycle & #8230; and took him there unnecessarily. This is Hong Kong & #8211; a place where leaving the hotel with a bicycle, I felt I was missing something.
Hong Kong & #8211; 2 weeks sound like a penitentiary vacation
Let's just say it & #8211; the idea of spending two weeks in one city by someone who gets bored after an average of 2 hours (i.e. after visiting Decathlon and McDonald), sounds dramatic. The story begins like this:
A week before Christmas I came back from the States. Cold, soaked bankrupt, provided for and with overall bicycle saturation. We had a few days to find a place where we would spend 2 holiday weeks. The goal seemed simple: Cyprus. But one word from a colleague about the rain forecasted there (which ultimately was not & #8211; thanks Łukasz) was enough for me to quickly abandon this idea. Skyscanner said clearly & #8211; everything is expensive for the holidays. Among the green destinations (i.e. cheaper than usual), there were only two: Hong Kong and Qatar. Qatar came off quite quickly, for ideological reasons & #8211; it was enough to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and read information about the fact that a raped woman gets up to 7 years in prison.
So Hong Kong remained. The city is recommended for max 2-3 days, as an extended change during flights to nice places.
As usual on this blog, I can say clearly: We flew to Hong Kong mainly because it was cheap *. I assumed it certainly had nothing to do with the huge protests and demonstrations that scared us television and embassies. Such assumptions eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress.
* tickets for ~ PLN 2,500 return, with bicycle, change to Sheremetyevo.
& #8230; and it was one of the best decisions ever, but more on that later. For a normal person, Hong Kong is not very positive, as follows:
What did I know about Hong Kong when I bought tickets 2 days before departure?
It's Asian, it has tall buildings and I remember well the speeches of MP Gadzinowski from the Sejm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJk8D1hGVQo which suggested that Hong Kong is funny. Besides, throughout my stay I didn't even know if Hong Kong was written together or separately. We went in YOLO & #8211; what will be will be.
Logistics, route details and organization are not described because in principle everything you need to know (including what and how to walk) is on this page: https://droneandslr.com/travel-blog/hong-kong/
It was cheap to Hong Kong, only not there.
Teaching for the future: before buying a bargain ticket, check prices on the spot. Because if on the first day you go to cheap 7-Eleven and see that:
-> the cheapest 1.5l water (because you don't drink from the tap) costs PLN 7.50, which is the same as ONE apple or ONE organic strawberry <-
then you know that it will be hard several days. Yes, Hong Kong is in the TOP10 most expensive cities in the world for a reason. And here there is also very important information that slightly changes the perception of Hong Kong blocks of flats. Two facts that I regret getting to know because I am curious about my reaction if I only got to know them when I returned.
The average salary in Hong Kong (a city with over 7 million inhabitants) is over PLN 9,000.
Apartments in HK are by far the most expensive in the world. The average price of a metro flat is almost 30,000$.
Subway, thirty thousand, dollars.
Now let's look at it this way: you want to buy a new bike, because n + 1 after all. At best, a bicycle in an apartment is about half a square meter, or 55,000 PLN for a place to hold it. I quickly understood why mainly Pinarello and S-Worksy go here, and on the streets I saw as many Ferrari, McLarens, Lamborghini and Tesla as anywhere else. And certainly looking at their quantity in relation to other vehicles.
Price pluses include hotels & #8211; perhaps due to protests and the fact that tourists are half as much as last year. To add variety, we sleep on two sides of the Strait (Victoria Harbor, one of the deepest in the world):
Of course, it can be cheaper & #8211; Ba, calmly around PLN 100 per night, but the conditions are then & #8222; clean but spartan & #8221 ;. Unfortunately, we need a place and desks to work. Looking at the size of the rooms, I wish everyone good luck if they come here with a road and a suitcase.
As for food, after some time we discovered that you can find pubs where we will pay for dinner up to PLN 30-40 for a dinner dish. The only problem is that for a person not tasting in Chinese food, it's really hard. There is a failure everywhere in McDonalds, and in every grocery store the selection of Chinese soups is impressively extensive.
PS Lightly spicy dishes are REALLY spicy.
Why is Hong Kong angry with the bike?
Imagine a nice cyclist on an expensive bike. In Hong Kong 90% people look more pro than him and have a more expensive bike. Perfect fit, Rapha, Assos, expensive helmet with perfectly matched glasses and so on. My brave assumption is that if someone already has a road, he has no money for anything. Rapha in Hong Kong is a place where there is a permanent queue for a few minutes to the fitting room.
It's not quite like it would seem that a city of 7 million is a place where you can't ride a bike. Can be. Only in my opinion this place is definitely more for people who go to the 70-kilometer loop at 5 am than holiday cycling tourists. Inventions like bike paths or even roadsides do not exist. Traffic in cities consists mainly of buses and taxis, outside the cities it can be low. Really small & #8211; basically a few kilometers from the exit from the buildings. Here is a curiosity, because you can imagine that the trip from the buildings takes a week:
Hong Kong is only 2x larger than Warsaw, and the buildings occupy only 25% area & #8230; and lies on 234 islands.
The capital of (civil) bicycles is here Sha Tin Hoi & #8211; long paths on both sides of the river, pulled up to the impressive Plover Cove Reservoir dam. Unfortunately, we get there on a day off and the visit is a bit like driving on the Vistula boulevards, in July, on Sunday, at noon & #8230; just more. The main occupation of locals is taking pictures, adding to it not the best riding skills (a lot of rented, with the saddle set so that the knees hit the chin), this creates a climate conducive to misfortunes & #8211; especially tourists who are not used to it. As a consolation, you can visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, a monastery with nearly 13,000 Buddha statues.
A visit to these paths is the last day we used a bicycle here.
If you allow the possibility of quickly leaving the city by subway (you can with the front wheel removed), you can quickly jump to a nice, decent scenic round. Even on Strava Local you will find a substantial list of routes: https://www.strava.com/local/hk/hong-kong/cycling on which the biggest hardcore is loop 132km / 4663m vertically. Drivers drive smoothly, but for me the lack of a roadside causes too much discomfort when being overtaken by buses on winding roads. Add to this the fact that in Hong Kong alone, most driveways are disgustingly steep and we have a recipe for success for the most persistent of those persistent.
Riding a bike around Hong Kong is like riding a bike around the Tatra Mountains (minimum version) & #8211; you can, but for what, if you miss all the best
I am 100% sure that when you are flying to the other end of the world, there are many, much better places to ride a bike. Here it is possible, but neither especially comfortable nor sensible (from the point of view of a tourist-hiker) & #8211; legs better!
& #8230; and it's also not easy to get used to the fact that everyone is riding on the wrong side of the street.
Why is Hong Kong perfect?
1. Perfectly developed place communication
Buses seem to be many times more than cars, plus double-decker trams, several long metro lines, ferries, lots of taxis and everything affordable. From the city center you can easily go out of civilization in 15-20 minutes, regardless of the direction. We reached most of the hiking trails with a maximum of one change (and often without it) and within 30-40 minutes from the time of leaving the hotel. This gives incredible comfort, because you do not need to walk & #8222; on the loops & #8221; & #8211; no matter where you finish, there will be a stop with a bus that suits you.
This is some turbo shit that you live on the 30th floor of a huge block of flats in the center of a big city and in such a short time you can find yourself on the seaside walker or equivalent of our Bieszczady Mountains. I will say simply & #8211; logistics in the Bieszczady Mountains it was 10x heavier for us than in Hong Kong (based only on Google Maps).
2. Nice people
Maybe not as nice as in the Taiwanese villages, because in the end it is a huge metropolis, but everything was stress-free, everyone was helpful, people are smiling and you can feel exactly how you would like to feel in the city. How would I think last year at this time we were in Moroccoin which in cities we were treated like Zbyszek's drinks in Radom & #8230;
For the main attractions and socially interesting experiences, I recommend visiting any area of the center on the island of Hong Kong on any holiday or Sunday. These days some 300,000 women (immigrant workers working as domestic help) take to the streets. Every covered place, square, some roadways, parks, sidewalks are besieged by tents, cardboard boxes and blankets, on which food, dancing, singing, sleeping and so on take place. Such a custom & #8211; the city looks like flooded with homeless people, but everyone smiles. 300,000 is a lot, especially in a small area. The attraction is excellent because it's counterparts the famous Ken Lee, can be heard everywhere. We can't listen for too long because Panda wants to join!
It is worth adding that Hong Kong may be big, but there are cities next to it that make it not big at all. Mainly because it borders the Pearl River Delta, i.e. the agglomeration of 110 MILLION PEOPLE. WTF ?! 110 million people.
We are also so lucky that during the New Year's Eve we are confusing the celebration of the new year with an anti-Chinese demonstration. The demonstrations are interesting here, the New Year was estimated by the organizers per million people, by the police at 50,000 & #8211; Disputes. Hong Kong is also known for its New Year's fireworks show. This year, he was canceled and replaced with the worst show I've ever seen. A good chance that your neighbor has done better. Around 00:04 everyone started to diverge. If someone would tell you that it's worth visiting the largest permanent laser show in the world on Victoria Harbor, hit him in the head - it's not worth it.
I know, you see these blocks of flats and think: but muck and malaria. Only not, the city is cleaner than in Warsaw. Blocks, although they look like pato hatcheries from a distance, are quite different from a close range & #8211; lobby like in hotels, nice courtyards, many parks, open and free ZOO somewhere between blocks, open gyms, running routes, groups of people dancing, bending, stretching, singing together. Maybe they just hide this pathology well from us. If someone has a runny nose & #8211; she is wearing a mask, at the airport greets us by shooting a laser thermometer at children to make sure they are healthy. Information everywhere about huge penalties for littering, painting on the walls, or dogging without cleaning.
And the city is not cluttered with pathologically parked cars.
4 Views, walks
These points mean that instead of cycling around the streets, feeling the breath of the bus on your back, you can quickly transport to a selected section of many hundred kilometers of walking trails stretching through areas that absolutely do not connect with the common image of Hong Kong. The routes are well marked, well prepared, easily accessible by communication and above all: BEAUTIFUL.
It is really good and although visibility is very limited in winter, they make a huge impression. There is everything here: family routes, conditionally demanding routes, technical routes, long, short, with views of the sea, the beaches, the hills, the city, the islands & #8230;
Even the most difficult ones should not, however, cause a big problem for an average person who is not a stranger to sport. Let's look at some of them.
List of evidence that Hong Kong IS great
& #8230; and that it was the perfect choice
Victoria Peak (The Peak)
Lion Rock & Beacon Hill
During our visit, visibility was very limited, but we saw enough to convince ourselves that this is the best view of the city. Thanks to the slightly greater distance from the center than The Peak, the view is wider and covers a much larger area. Those interested can extend the walk to Beacon Hill, from which the view is also good. In this option, we went 10km and 660 meters vertically.
Violet Hill & The Twins
Bieszczady by the sea. Seriously & #8211; forests, hills, even a lagoon with a dam in Solina, only a little further you can see the sea and islets, and blocks in the distance. The walk consists of the approach to Violet Hill, which is heavy and the approach to two hills called The Twins, which is also heavy. Two pros give a big plus here. We combine the hills on the same day with another & #8222; hajkiem & #8221; which, as it turns out the next day, trying to get out of bed, was not the best idea:
Yuk Kwai Shan & Ap Lei Pai
Two small hills at 4 kilometers. It seemed cool on the map, so for reasons unknown to us today we do it right after the previous point (with a break for sweet cakes). Very good idea & #8230 ;. Do not. In return, we get a beautiful sunset.
This is one of the shortest, technically most difficult and most satisfying routes & #8211; on both sides of the first hill you need to use a rope for belaying (with your hands), and for good morning signs welcome us that people are getting damaged trying to overcome this route. At the end of the trail & #8211; before the obligatory turn, because the route due to the characteristics does not allow you to return with another version, we find cool stone cliffs on which you can lay out and look at the cork of container ships sailing to the port.
High Junk Peak & Tai Leng Tung
Castle Peak & Yuen Tau Shan
Caste Peak & #8211; the second of the peaks. Here the landscape changes completely. The weather is still not quite good, blocking the view from the summit completely, but the vast areas around are still impressive. This is not a route that I can recommend, especially since after making the transition through Yuen Tau Shan is really tiring and technically difficult (lots of sand, loose stones, steep descents), but it is completely different. A bit like in around Valenciathat we visited bikepacking.
Sunset Peak & Lantau Peak & Ngong Ping
Probably the best known & #8222; long & #8221; route in the area. Mainly because it passes the second (934m) and third (800m) Hong Kong's highest peak, and it starts of course by leaving the ferry. Spectacular views, covering mainly the sea and numerous islands emerging from it. It's technically quite easy, but 16 kilometers with ~ 1600 meters of elevation can get a bit tired.
An additional attraction of the trail is definitely a visit to Ngong Ping, which has a large Buddha statue (but not as impressive as this one in Taiwan). We are interested in a slightly different attraction, definitely more expensive, unfortunately: the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. A nearly 6-kilometer route covered by a gondola with a glass bottom (extra payment, but it's worth it): over the mountains, trees and the sea.
As befits this area, there is also a view of the great airport and bridge on the way. A bridge like a bridge, except that it leads to Macau (the Asian equivalent of Vegas) and has & #8230; 55 kilometers. To make it funny, somewhere half dives into the sea for almost 7 kilometers.
Yes, 55 kilometers of bridge.
Sai Wan & Sharp Peak
Sharp Peak, closing the big three & #8211; we couldn't let him go and it was the best decision to leave. To make it more interesting we have expanded it with an epic walk through Sai Wan, which covers 4 different beaches. This is probably one of the most difficult regions of Hong Kong, because either you need to find a bus (which is very easy to fit on) that is not on Google Maps, or help yourself by taxi. It's worth it anyway!
Sharp Peak is considered the most difficult of the peaks and in fact, going down we pass the signs that climbing it is not recommended. From the side we attacked from, there was no such information. I would not describe it as unreachable, even for a person with panic fear of heights & #8211; as I entered, everyone will enter. The view from the top is especially annoying for anyone who likes to take pictures. An excellent view is on each side, because it includes both beaches with the sea, surrounding hills, and forests stretching to the horizon. The route is long, but with good visibility and favorable weather it is one of the most impressive walkers I have been to. Once I learn how to dump movies from a drone, I will attach the appropriate panorama ;-)
We are weak in visiting cities. We mainly limited ourselves to looking at Instagram and checking the most-tagged places. Hong Kong are unfortunately super-professionals when it comes to taking pictures, coloring them and looking good. It is not strange to take a picture of yourself for 10 minutes and to take a perfectly worked out & #8222; pose number 4 & #8221 ;. Most places definitely failed in reality, because it is not related to the pictures we saw. So I'll leave only two here:
I suspect that one of the most famous blocks in China, appearing on 90% movies from Hong Kong. Is it worth it It's hard to say. If someone teleported me there a month ago, I'd say & #8222; damn badge! & #8221; (or something like that). A huge horseshoe of tiny and dark apartments makes quite an impression, but after a few days in Hong Kong, man becomes slightly resistant to such views. You can laugh for it with semi-professional (because professional are prohibited sign) sessions of scantily clad ladies with expensive handbags that pose on its background.
So something I'd expect more from Vegas. The place is definitely not worth visiting, but if you come across it by accident, it can make you laugh. Here in the middle of the estate stands a large yacht converted into a shopping center. Unfortunately, it looks much better on the Internet, especially from a drone.
Hong Kong & #8211; who is it for And why?
It is something like this: if you have two weeks off and are looking for a place to relax, I would not recommend visiting Hong Kong. If you have a transfer there because you are flying to an exotic island in Thailand & #8211; then it is definitely worth extending it to 1-2 days. The city makes a huge impression (that's a good word). After returning, everything seems small & #8211; in our apartment on the 11th floor we now feel like in a basement. Even a few hours here is enough to climb The Peak and take a double-decker bus around the city (it's extremely easy to get in the first, top row). It's like a cable car trip through Disneyland (it's here too), just a bit faded and industrialized.
For us & #8211; I can't imagine a better place for a moment of remote work. The 7-hour time shift causes the computer to sit down around 15-16 and finish before midnight. In combination with short, nice and easily reachable mountain (or rather hilly) routes with great views makes a person cry over everyday life in which he loses such a large part of a sunny day. I think that we would have classes there for an intense month of fun. We haven't visited so many islands, we haven't been to Macau, in Shenzen, on the highest peak & #8230; Hong Kong is great!
& #8230; and only this food: /