up to Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak is a joy I have discovered recently while living on the south side of the island. Whether I walk with a friend or all by myself, the 30-45 minute journey amidst lush greenery and chirping birds gives me the much-needed peace of mind and breath of fresh air that all inhabitants of big cities thirst for – and the fact that I can do this within a 10 km radius from home is unbelievable!
Hiking up to Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak is a joy I have discovered recently while living on the south side of the island. Whether I walk with a friend or all by myself, the 30-45 minute journey amidst lush greenery and chirping birds gives me the much-needed peace of mind and breath of fresh air that all inhabitants of big cities thirst for – and the fact that I can do this within a 10 km radius from home is unbelievable!
Standing at 552 metres above sea level, the Peak is the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, previously functioning as a signalling post for incoming cargo ships in the nineteenth century. Preferred as a summer retreat by the British ‘tai-tais’, the Peak became very popular for the privileged upper class, who transported themselves up the treacherous slopes sitting in sedan chairs carried by their own personal staff.
A sedan chair being carried up the slopes
The Peak is one of the most popular destinations in Hong Kong, attracting 7 million tourists every year, but it’s not just for tourists. This place is popular with locals alike, who hike up the various trails leading to the mountaintop to catch a glimpse of the picturesque views below or to just get a breath of fresh air.
View from the Peak
I have walked this trail with my family before and – while it is much slower – it is filled with a different kind of fun. The initial bursts of energy, taking off into a sprint, the giggles, the shouts for water, juice or Yakult; followed by a sudden reduction in the decibel level… trudging feet, tired faces, pleading eyes looking up at their father for any kind of gesture or invitation to be carried on his big strong shoulders – I enjoy it all!
On the way
One holiday, instead of going for the usual food and fun kind of outing, we decided to take a little stroll in our neighbourhood. We left home carrying our rain jackets, camera, food supply and other essentials like tissues, hand sanitiser, lip balm and chewing gum in a haversack. We had decided to take our tried-and-tested route up to the Peak, involving a bus to Pokfulam Reservoir, then a hike from there; however when we came to the bus stop, my husband spotted some steps going up the mountain and decided that we were going to take that route instead.
Now although I had never walked up this path I did remember a friend telling me that she had, and that it does indeed lead to the Peak, although this involves climbing some 500 steps. I am not very fond of steps, and prefer walking up a slope instead, but this was a good change from routine. So we crossed the road with the boys and started the ascent.
The boys were very happy counting the steps, and they did so quite loudly as they walked up the first 100. To add to their excitement and fun, I picked up a stone and scratched out the number on every 100th step. We continued like this for the first 400, after which our pace started slowing down and we took a break to take in the beautiful scenery.
500 or 1000?
At this point we also realised that we had grossly underestimated the number of steps, which were steadily increasing beyond the 600 mark! We put on a brave face and continued up. That is when we came across this sign.
”This section of the trail is very difficult and suitable only for experienced and well-equipped hikers”
This further charged up the boys who were convinced that this was the most difficult ascent ever, making them seasoned trekkers! I was actually quite impressed with their stamina and enthusiasm as they continued up the steps counting steadily…800… 900… 950… 980… 990… 998… 999… 1000!
After quite some time, the steps turned into a slope and we continued, but I couldn’t believe it when I realised we had only reached Chi Fu! Now Chi Fu is a 10-minute walk by road from the starting point of our hike, so reaching here after 90 minutes of strenuous walking was certainly not a very pleasant discovery. I tried not to look at my husband who was by this time glaring at me for my casual 500-step prediction! His back was now plastered with sweat at having to carry our ‘might-need‘ rain jackets, and our meagre supply of snacks remained untouched. Time for another little break, and while we paused, I tried to bring back the lost enthusiasm, playing around with the boys and charging them up again.
10 minutes later we continued our walk onward and upward, giving each other little pushes when necessary. By the time we reached the top, my little boy was riding on my husband’s shoulders! Needless to say, after our 2+ hour hike, reaching the top had never felt more thrilling or fulfilling!