I Found Tranquility in Hectic Hong Kong
I had my 20th High School Reunion this summer. I didn’t go, to state the obvious. I would have liked to have gone, but I’m in Asia.
When I graduated High school, I had so many ideas of what my life would be like. I tried to imagine my life after 10 years, after 20 years. I would have never guessed this is where I’d be. I had assumed I would be living on a hobby farm in Minnesota somewhere with kids and teaching at the local school while doing all the DIY crafts I could think of. Instead, I’m sitting with my husband in an overpriced, crappy hotel room in Hong Kong waiting for the second typhoon in a week to pass so I can go have some fun in this city before moving back to China and starting a new teaching job. I’m perfectly happy with where I am now (except for the complete lack of DIY crafts), and it’s fun to see how my life ended up here instead of where I had imagined it.
Yet, when we arrived in Hong Kong, I wasn’t thrilled.
The air quality was terrible that day, and it was super hot and humid. The next day Typhoon Hato hit, one of the strongest typhoons in history. Hong Kong is also overwhelming, crowded, hot, smelly, and overpriced. You can get anything here, if you can find it. You can do anything here, if you have the money.
Despite all these things, Martin loves Hong Kong.
He and I both like the blend of eastern and western cultures here, but the craziness of the city is a lot to take in. I never really realized that Hong Kong is so much more than a huge city filled with glittering skyscrapers. Martin, on the other hand, was able to do some hiking here last year and discovered how much of Hong Kong is really too mountainous to build on but perfectly mountainous to walk on. In addition to the plethora of beautiful mountainous hiking trails, Hong Kong is made up of many islands, some of which people live on (like Hong Kong Island) but many others that are simply for recreating – including Sharp Island.
To get to Sharp Island, we first had to get to Sai Kung, a small fishing village about an hour from Kowloon (and still technically Hong Kong). We took bus 92 from Diamond Hill metro station (the 92 Express from Choi Hung metro station is 15 minutes faster) and arrived to see an adorable and not overly crowded little village. There were clean, public bathrooms and plenty of places to stock up on water and snacks for the adventure.
The boardwalk along the shore is lined with vendors selling boat rides to Sharp Island. It was a Saturday in summer so we paid full price: $40HKD round trip per person (about $5USD). There are two stops on Sharp Island: Kiu Tsui (on the northwest side of the island) and Hap Mun Bay (on the southwest side of the island). We took the boat to Hap Mun Bay.
We lucked out and got a beautiful blue sky.
When we arrived at the beach a lot of debris was scattered about and some tree branches blocked the path because of Typhoon Hato a few days before. The beach had signs saying it was closed due to this debris and something about shark nets. The signs were confusing because the beach was clearly not closed; lifeguards were present and many people were swimming.
We walked the 1.6km trail from Hap Mun Bay to Kiu Tsui. It was hot hot hot! Our umbrellas kept the sun from beating down on us, but they did nothing to keep the heat from the ground from beating up at us. The trail was beautiful and deserted.
Both Kiu Tsui and Hap Mun Bay beaches have showers, changing rooms and lockers, which is more than Barceloneta Beach can say. (However, Barceloneta had clean drinking water and Sharp Island doesn’t.) It wasn’t super crowded either – we easily found a place in the shade to sit and had plenty of room in the water for swimming.
The last beach we visited was in Calella, Spain. The beach culture in Spain is completely different from the beach culture in Hong Kong/China. Instead of laying in the sun trying to get tan, beachgoers cover up as much as possible and wander around taking magazine style photos.
In Spain, kids often swim in only skimpy swim suit bottoms, whereas here kids often wear one piece suits that have long shorts and long sleeves. One little girl wore a formal white gown. She looked like a flower girl in a wedding. While she didn’t swim, she did wade in the water and play in the sand in her beautiful gown.
We had to leave the beach a little early due to another typhoon heading for Hong Kong, but I can’t say enough good things about this island. It wasn’t crowded; it was beautiful; it was relaxing; it was a perfect break from the hectic city.
The best news is that there are so many more islands and hiking trails like this to explore in Hong Kong. I feel so lucky to live so close to this amazing city!