From sweat and pain to luxury | in Hong Kong
Day 2,766 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!
(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).
The Lantau Trail was followed by The Hari’s luxury
There is a common phrase which reads: “no pain, no gain”. We took that quite literally this week!
Last week’s entry: Preparing for our honeymoon!! Hong Kong continued
Last Saturday my workplace celebrated forty years since the inauguration of ‘Danish Room’ which is pretty much what the name suggests. It is a room where Danes in Hong Kong can come and feel welcome. Particularly seafarers - but these days they can’t swing by due to quarantine rules. Nonetheless we invited any and all Danes in Hong Kong to come and celebrate it with us. We aimed for two sessions (morning and afternoon) with about twenty guests in each to accommodate COVID-19 regulations. Regulations which by the way are getting more and more relaxed here in Hong Kong. We had a great time and you can see all the photos on Facebook from the morning session HERE and the afternoon session HERE. And if you’re Danish and would like to see more about my work at the Danish Seamen’s Church then you can consider following that Facebook page as well. I have the pleasure of running it for the time being. It was a really nice celebration which ended at 4:00pm.
The 'Danish Room' has had room for every Dane and every Danish seafarer for four decades now.
At about 5:00pm wifey and I were ready to leave towards our second ultra-hike: The Lantau Trail! A week earlier we did the Hong Kong Trail which is a 47.5km (30mi) footpath with about 1,500m (5,000ft) in elevation gain. It’s a nice beginner trail for those who want to experience their first ultra-distance. Back in April 2020 it became my first ultra-distance on foot together with my friends Brett, Dehua and Leon. We made THIS VIDEO from the hike. A week ago, wifey shaved more than three hours off my first try in her first attempt. So, things were looking good in terms of turning up the heat. You see, before wifey came out of quarantine she already had the idea in her head that we should do the MacLehose Trail together which is a 100km (62mi) footpath across Hong Kong! The MacLehose Trail is the Granddad of hikes within Hong Kong and boasts an elevation gain of approximately 5,000m (16,400ft)! I’ve done it a few times and only once in a single stretch. Wifey wants to do it in one go and after seeing her blaze through the Hong Kong Trail last week I was thinking: “hmmm…she’s a lot stronger than what I thought. Maybe it’s no problem for her?” She’s a tough cookie for sure. Wifey has several full marathons behind her along with two Ironman’s. In case you can’t remember what an Ironman is, then please let me refresh your memory: it’s a triathlon distance which requires a 3.9km swim (2.4 mile) followed by 180.2km (112 mile) of cycling followed by a 42.2km (26.2 mile) run. And then you go home. Yeah – she’s tough.
The Lantau Trail is a 70km (43.5mi) footpath with an elevation gain of more than 3,000m (9,800ft). Back in May 2020 I did The Lantau Trail together with my friends Brett and Leon and we made THIS VIDEO. It took us 22 hours in full from start to finish. Last year we had some bad luck during the night which set us back several hours and towards the end of the trail it became quite the struggle. How would wifey and I fair? Could we get it down to 17 hours? Would we meet 20 hours? Surely it wouldn’t take 22 again? Or would it? We sat out at 6:13pm from the green mailbox in Mui Wo which marks the start and end of the trail. The sun disappeared around 6:50pm and we turned our head torches on about twenty minutes later. The sun wouldn’t appear again until 6am the next day. I sat out with 2.5 liters of water and wifey had 3 liters. We were hoping to refill along the way. Soon we were on our way up Sunset Peak which is the third highest mountain in Hong Kong at 869m (2.851ft). No problem. We were soon heading down the other side of it. Next up: Lantau Peak which is the second highest in Hong Kong at 934m (3.064ft). No problem and what a remarkable view at night! We headed down the other side but by now water was getting scarce. Wifey was looking strong.
My little trooper heading up towards Lantau Peak.
We soon reach a tourist village called Ngong Ping 360 which connects the cable cars with downtown Tung Chung. An easy route up into the mountains. Everything was closed and abandoned for the night. A few dogs were barking somewhere in the darkness. I was sure that there would have been a vending machine somewhere but we didn’t find one and began to head down the mountain following the trail. What were we going to do about water? We were closing in on midnight now. It’s a bit boring to hike at night but at least you avoid the sun and thereby the heat. It is really monotonous though. And water was a concern. We weren’t out yet but it wasn’t looking good.
We encountered more elevation before finally getting down to Tai O late into the night. There were a few vicious dogs we had to fend off. It was expected. I had also expected a lot of cobwebs and I did catch several with my face but not as many as I would have thought from previous experience. We saw a couple of snakes and a great deal of mouselike rats as well as frogs. In Tai O we came across a small public toilet with a water container on its roof. I was flat out of water and it was better than nothing. I first smelled the water…it smelled fine. Then I tasted a mouthful and spat it out on the ground…it tasted okay. I quickly drank half a liter and filled all of my water pouches. Wifey did the same and we were off again. The next thirty minutes I was curiously observing how my stomach was cooping with the water but had no issues. Beyond that I wasn’t worried.
The sun delivers its promise every morning. Thank you sun!
The sun rose as expected and we switched off our head torches. An hour later we had reached Shui Hau and found breakfast in a simple cup of noodles. More importantly we could stock up on safe water which we did and poured out the remaining “toilet water”. Wifey was starting to feel the distance and the hours. So was I but probably not as bad. Our 48 hours leading up to the hike had been somewhat hectic with little sleep. We hadn’t rested proficiently before the trail and we hadn’t had enough to eat and drink. It certainly added to the challenge. Wifey didn’t cry or suggest to stop though. She is tough! She continued to put one step ahead of the next for several hours to come. And right towards the end of the trail there was a final climb. It was clear that this added challenge wasn’t welcome but she didn’t cry, complain or suggest stop. She kept on keeping on. And at 1:21pm we were back at the green mailbox in Mui Wo. We had done it in 19 hours and 7 minutes! It was time to rest. After a shower and a nap, we headed to our favorite running sushi place and went to town on it!! ;)
19 hours later!! VICTORIOUS! ;)
We made a wrong turn and added a little extra distance to the hike.
We have by now had a longstanding collaboration with the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) which is also known as Discover Hong Kong. Prior to reaching Hong Kong we have had a few other collaborations with tourism boards around the world but none as rich as this. HKTB has provided a great deal of opportunities and most lately I have been made a part of the ‘Hong Kong Super Fans’ initiative. Within Once Upon A Saga we have been promoting wherever we are while we are there, which has usually been for a week or two at most. We’ve been promoting Hong Kong for far more than a year now and I’m getting great response from people all over the world who are either rediscovering Hong Kong though my eyes or experiencing it for the first time. Many seem intrigued and interested in visiting whenever possible. That is the best kind of feedback we can hope for. And so, when I reached out to HKTB to hear if they could help arrange for a luxury hotel to accommodate a honeymoon…HKTB delivered once again. Let me introduce you to: The Hari! :)
The Hari is located in Wan Chai.
The Hari is a very stylish luxury hotel which offers homely feeling from the moment you step inside the door. Every staff member on every level we encountered was kind and attentive throughout our stay. As we checked in with the guest experience team, we were welcomed by Mr Albert Cheng and Mr Leo Chan. Soon after we were welcomed by Mr Rory Slater (General Manager) and Mrs Kerstin Remy (Commercial Director). When we entered our room on the 27th floor we found champagne and cake waiting for us!
Notice the little Lego figures decorating the cake. Genius!!
The view was spectacular and the location was great for exploring Hong Kong. The Hari is located in Wan Chai which is among the oldest neighborhoods within Hong Kong. Everything seems easily accessible from The Hari. Let me show you how we spent our two nights/three days while there:
After checking in at The Hari we headed out to have lunch at a nearby café which serves laksa. A favorite of mine. I had laksa at the same café a year earlier with my friend Ole Sander who has now moved to Singapore with his family.
Ophelia introduced me to the Bowen Road Fitness Trail which is just behind The Hari. And along the trail you'll find the Lovers Rock.
Lovers Rock is a place of legend where worshipers come to pray for good fortune and good luck, especially for fertility and married life.
Dinner at The Hari's authentic Italian restaurante Lucciola. Yum yum!
On our second day we took the tram to the end station and then took another one back. It's an inexpensive way of experiencing Hong Kong and a charming experience within itself.
We also dropped in on Hong Kong Cemetery to take a few photos for my friend Chris who is updating a database. But also to enjoy the beauty of a very historical site within Hong Kong.
Down time at our stylish room on the 27th floor :)
Dinner at The Hari's Japanese restaurant Zoku! Brilliant. Their hotels are not just the food. It was just as much the vibe generated by the music, the service which the staff delivered and the overall atmosphere we enjoyed. Yum yum again! ;)
There is a ferry terminal near The Hari which connects Hong Kong island with Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) in Kowloon.
We caught the light and sound show which was rather good. It lights up the skyline of one of the worlds greatest cities. I can't believe I hadn't seen it before after all this time in Hong Kong:)
Fortunately we were able to borrow a couple of umbrellas from The Hari as it came down pretty hard on our second night.
Wifey and I caught 'Nomadland' with Francis McDormand and we loved it. It's nice to sit down in a cinema every once in a while and feel like a normal couple.
Our rooms view of Wan Chai and beyond. The Hari is a sustainable hotel which I personally value. One example was that all our water bottles were glass bottles and not plastic. It's the right direction.
And that is all for now folks. Wifey and I are back to normal life again with work, obligations, chores and the occasional socializing. It looks like wifey can stay beside my side until mid/late June at which point I truly hope the world has opened up considerably. A fellow Dane and friend in Hong Kong who is also the CEO within a large ship management company twitted the following: “In Hong Kong people are hesitant at getting vaccinated because we have little to no COVID. We have little to no COVID because the borders are pretty much closed. The borders are pretty much closed because people are hesitant to get vaccinated. #catch22”. His name is Bjorn Hojgaard and I found this tweet of his to be spot on. I can’t believe this pandemic has lasted this long! But at least we got stuck in Hong Kong and have been able to make the very best of it. Stay safe and sane out there.
A final thank you to the kind people at The Hari for making it a special honeymoon :)
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - I married the right woman!
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