we scheduled one day for a hike on Dragon’s Back (龍脊), and this is the highlight of the trip for me. the total distance covered for the entire hike, including the additional route to Pottinger Peak is close to 12 km.
the Dragon’s Back is one of the famous hiking trails in Hong Kong and relatively easy to hike. it is one of the trails in Shek O Country Park. there are 3 interconnecting trails inside the country park: stage 7 of Hong Kong Trail that leads from the Tai Tam Road catchment to To Tei Wan Village; stage 8 of Hong Kong Trail leading from Dragon’s Back to Big Wave Bay; and Pottinger Peak Country Trail that runs from Potting Gap to Cape Collinson Road.
we covered stage 8 of the Hong Kong Trail, starting from To Tei Wan bus stop on Shek O Road, and ended up in Big Wave Bay through Dragon’s Back. we took bus number 9 from the bus terminal station outside Shau Kei Wan MTR. To Tei Wan is 11 stops away from the bus terminal, and the bus will display the alighting stations.
some of the trekking paths we encountered along Dragon’s Back. the trekking pole we purchased from proved helpful, especially when navigating through the descent along the slopes.
the island on the left is Tai Tau Chau (大頭洲) and the one of the right is Ng Fan Chau (五分洲).
the day of our trek was rather foggy, and considering that we managed to get a good view from the top was already a bonus. we took approximately 2.5 hours to cover Dragon’s Back, rested by the beach and rewarded ourselves with bak kwa and coconut water.
the second part of the trail wasn’t part of the plan. expecting to end our journey in Siu San Wan, we went ahead with the 1000 over steps from the Big Wave Bay towards Pottinger Peak.
the view from the Pottinger Peak was covered in fog by the time we arrived, and we experienced fast and strong winds up there. had a quick snap and headed down quickly.
we had our first glimpse of civilization and felt a great sense of achievement and relieve in the final descent towards Cape Collinson Road.
the path towards Siu San Wan is along the leaping dragon walk, and we took the wrong path along Cape Collinson Road that lead us to Chai Wan instead.
we completed the entire hike in about 5 hours. both exhausted and hungry, we had our warm meals in the crowded Mongkok close to 9 pm.
even though the terrain is easy to navigate, do carry sufficient water and light snacks with you. the Dragon’s Back trail is the beginning of our exploration to the countless trails in Hong Kong.
our next target is er jie nemesis’s – the Lion Rock in Shatin. :)
the main purpose of the trip for the hub and er jie is the annual stanchart HK marathon.
the marathon and the other categories were flagged off in different waves. i skipped the flagged off and caught up with the action on tv, broadcasted live from the site. dozing on and off, i dragged myself off from the sofa and made my way down to the finishing site – Victoria Park.
the initial intention was to capture the running moments. majority of the roads were closed and filled with crowd, and that sort of deterred me from walking towards the row of shophouses along Causeway Bay. plus the fact that i managed to sneak into the event site, made me more to decide to stay within the compound.
it was a good move, and had opportunity to catch up with the runners from sunny island.
the hub did some serious training in order to beat the 6 hours cut off time. the hard work paid off despite a hiatus of 2 weeks due to an abrasion injury and leg clamps experienced during the marathon.
the truth is, our visits to the land of dim sum is usually towards year end or the beginning of the year, getting summer clothing is out of the question. we did, however, got warm inner wear from muji and giordano this time round.
in fact, our shopping in Hong Kong is for toys and collectibles. our loot was mainly danboard, lego and mini gashapon machine.
the danboards i suspect are bootleg versions, since i got them at least 50% off the prices i saw in normal retail shops. the pepsi danboard was from a make shift stall along Nathan Road, and the calbee version in a small shop in Argyle Street. our usual toy hunting places are in the Mongkok area – CTMA Center, Argyle Street, Sino Center.
glad to find a shop by chance in Sino Center that buys and sells lego.
our close to a week long vacation in Hong Kong ended with lots of good memories and aching calves. besides the marathon, which obvious only the hub and friend ran, i had my share of makanthon and walkathon. it was extremely cold on the first 2 days we were there. the only time i managed to keep myself warm was when i am in the shower. there was no heater, and we wore at least 3 layers of clothing, plus socks and gloves to sleep.
we were traveling in a group of 3. the affordable hotels are generally smaller and do not have room for an extra bed. we did our sums, and we opted for an apartment over 2 hotel rooms. bow on building on bowring street was the apartment we stayed in the 5 nights.
booked through airbnb, the cosy apartment comes with 2 bedrooms, one with a queen size bed and the other with a bunk bed. the internet broadband in the apartment is fast and reliable. we hardly use the broadband connection since we each had a data sim card. traveling around Hong Kong is convenient as the MTR is just around the corner with less than a minute walk away. there are 7-11 and circle k convenience stores, and numerous food outlets surrounding the apartment.
the owner provided a map on the food outlets, laundry services and supermarkets within the vicinity too.
we totally enjoy our stay in the apartment, and the only inconvenience we encountered was the toilet flushing system issue that affected the entire building in the middle of our stay.
we stayed out late and slept in till late morning. the only time we had breakfast was the day after the marathon, and it wasn’t from the 茶餐廳, even though somewhat close, we boiled water ourselves for the instant cup noodles. we had 吃茶, noodles from 茶餐廳 and roasted meat for brunch respectively on separate days.
dimdim dimsum was our first dim sum brunch on our second day. the store was voted as one of the 101 best places to eat in the world in 2012 by newsweek. we tried the quirkier house specialties besides the usual dim sum like the rice rolls, har gow and siu mai. the pineapple bun (菠蘿包) was filled with the real pineapple fruit, and the custard bun (流沙包) comes in the shape of piggies.
with the larger team smile group, we were able to order more variety at 稻香. we had 2 rounds of the sesame bun, har gow, siu mai and turnip in crispy crust.
the sesame bun is a must-try item. similar to the custard bun, the goodness of the 芝麻糊 comes oozing out of the bun.
the har gows in both dim sum places are larger than the ones we see here in Singapore. most importantly, the dim sum meals is inexpensive, and we paid about HKD80 per pax.
the only time we had a proper lunch was before our hike at dragon’s back. the hub and er jie found a popular roasted meat joint in Wanchai – Joy Hing Restaurant (再興燒臘飯店). we almost missed the shop due to some building works and that blocked the store’s signboard.
we had a generous serving of 三寶飯 that comprises of char siu, roasted duck and soy sauce chicken, topped with chopped onions and garlic. you can opt for fatty char siu, and each char siu is thick, and probably you can get 3 thinly sliced portion back here from that one thick slice. together with drinks, the total bill came out to HKD54 per pax. do expect to wait and share tables with strangers during their peak hours.
the farthest we traveled for dinner was on our first night to happy valley. the government has clamped down on the 大排檔, and most have moved into proper stalls. we ordered a dish that looks like tofu, only to realize that it was actually fried toast topped with prawn.
a trip to Hong Kong will not be complete without the street food and the meals in 茶餐廳. i had my favourite fish dumplings, stinky beancurd and curry fish balls.
desserts made up for our tea break after our long window shopping. the Australia Dairy Company, a famous store, that sells steamed milk and scrambled eggs was near to our apartment. i had my first steamed milk in Macau, and the similar store can be found in different locations across Hong Kong. having tasted both again on separate days, i preferred the steamed milk from Yee Shun. the former was too sweet to my liking.
if you are egging on for more protein, go for the egg custard, served in real egg shells from 五代同堂 dessert shop.
lastly, not forgetting the soy milk with oil sticks after our toy hunting, and the Tai Cheong egg tarts from coach before our departure.
the makan portion takes up the majority of the post, and i shall post the remaining activities in part 2…maybe part 3…
the unit will serve me well in my travels, without the need to lug along the various charger for our phones, tablet and camera.
a full charge will require approximately 10 hours. apparently, neither the salesperson at the store nor valore, has provided me with a definitive answer. i had to get a replacement after the first unit refuses to charge. it had served me well so far, and after a full recharge, i am able to charge up my ipad 2, and twice on my iphone 5.
got to keep it safe and hope it is able to withstand the cold weather.
our first overseas trip from a week ago, with the sicko family, in a 3-car convoy drive to ayer keroh, primarily for the 21km skyhawk nature run. the hubby drove to cameron highlands previously and the less than one third of the journey should have been a breeze for him.
we booked rooms at the ayer keroh resort for the majority of us, while the guys checked into another resort about 10 minutes ride away. turned out that akrc was overbooked, and we all ended up, staying in the same resort.
there is a water theme park in the resort, and the entrance is included in the room package.
we had only half a day to tour the melaka city, and our first stop after settling our check-in was mahkota parade mall. traffic to the city was relatively smooth, while looking for a parking lot was a challenge. the time for the search of a parking lot was twice as long as our drive from the resort to the mall.
a trip to melaka city isn’t complete without a walk down jonker street night market. not much changes since my last visit about a decade ago, except for the larger crowd with many more stalls that sell souvenirs, techie stuff, t-shirts, snacks and other knick-knacks.
hard rock cafe had its establishment near jonker street too.
dinner was a simple meal of fried kway teow, cockles and rojak. by the time we finished our walk and ready for chendol, both jonker88 and 三叔公 stores were closed for the day.
with less than 5 hours of rest, we made our way to the skyhawk nature run starting point.
due to overwhelming response, the organizer increased the intake to 600. it is still a manageable number in my opinion.
the sickos did well, despite the numerous up and downhills along the route. we also had fun photographing the participants and snacking on the chips from the finisher goodie bag.
while the drive up north was relatively smooth except for a 1 or 2 hiccups due to missed exit and directions. the drive back was unnerving. we lost sight of the front convoy and had to rely on the gps for directions. after a few miscalculated turns, and with the help of google maps we finally arrived at our pit stop, an hour late.
an overall satisfied weekend getaway, and would be better we have more days for rest and to explore the surroundings.
it was a quite a wrap, with the group who completed within the cut-off time, and where we managed to taste the local fusion of chinese and portuguese food. we traveled mostly on foot, the free shuttle services, and taxi. macau consists of the macau peninsular, the islands of taipa and coloane, and the landfilled cotai strip that connects the 2 islands.
our accommodation was located in taipa, which is approximately 1.5 km to the olympic stadium. i had a nice and cooling experience to jog in the chilling morning breeze to the stadium. our main mode of transportation is on foot, free shuttle buses and taxis (only in taipa). we boarded the free shuttle services to get to st paul’s ruins via the nearest casino, and the border gate.
with limited access to the internet, and the slow access in the hotel, i used dayre for the updates of my trip in macau.
ending this post with a photo of the famous pork chop bun.
more than a week from my last vacation of the year, i finally had the time to post some updates on the trip, only to realize the site was down. a look at the error log file revealed that the site had been down since dec 7, due to an invalid call argument for one of the plug-ins.
removed the offending plug-in, and i am back online.
my first salomon x-trail run was back in 2010 at the macritchie reservoir park. i signed up for the 10 km category in 2011 and had to give away my slot due to health reasons. after hearing the hubby and my ex-colleagues’ feedback on the trail route, i felt discourage to sign up for the x-trail runs held at the tampines bike park.
the tampines bike park and trail has been slated for the development of a new residential town, and this sixth edition of the run could possibly be the last in the park. glad that i had the opportunity to run there once. traces of the clearing, barren land and gravel-covered path was more prevalent in the last 3 km of the race route.
the first 4 km was a pain, navigating through the narrow path in a single file. i had to stop and walk often, and coupled with the constant hopping around, i soon lost my momentum. pain started to build up in ankle and calf, before i hit the 3 km mark. by then, i had fallen behind from the crowd, and i was running almost alone in the trails after around 4 to 5 km.
i had under-estimated the trails, despite prior warnings from the hubby, my ex-colleagues and following running kakis. climbing over fallen trees, stomping across muddy tracks and crossing a small stream were some of the obstacles encountered along the trail. the soles on my shoes started to peel off, layer by layer, and i soon was running in my “zero-dropped” adidas adizero.
water point was scarce and i had to stop for a good 2 to 3 minutes at each of the 2 points to rehydration. thankfully the weather was cool and i had my visor on.
i completed the race with less than an ideal time of close to 2 hours.
overall it was a good race experience and a memorable one. i lost my first pair of adidas adizero, even though it still looked good without the soles.
the only drawback was the tiny weeny finisher medal, and the return of my old calf injury.
a new process was used for international shipping, and thus, the product i’d backed from the kickstarter project was delayed. it finally arrived on my birthday, and roughly a week after i received the shipping information. i wasn’t home for the delivery but was equally delighted to receive the collection note, after a 6 hours journey back home from the north.
both the bubble-wrapped camerapro camera clip and the propad, was enclosed in a package that looks large enough to fill in a couple more boxes of the camera clips and propads.
the 2 black round knobs hold the camera clip to the shoulder strap on a bag or a belt. the red knob is the quick release for the mounting dualplate, thus giving quick access to the camera. the small round knob is a screw lock that prevents the accidental detachment of the camera. securely clipped to the shoulder strap of my camera backpack, it was able to take the load of my 50D, 70-200 mm F4 lens, and battery grip.
i do feel uncomfortable with the back plate pressing against my chest on the shoulder strap. otherwise, it’s an useful piece of accessory, which can keep my hands free from my monstruous camera, to pick up the field chair and monopod.
we took advantage of the supposedly long weekend for a getaway. i was lucky to have a day off despite the change in the deepavali public holiday.
one of the reason for the trip up north was the pink/grey running singlet in 2xu first ever run. totally no regrets as the finisher medal is awesome! a simple x logo, engraved with the event details.
the only downside was the hilly terrain, which i had to slow to a walk when going uphill, and catch up on the downhills. it wasn’t bad at all as i took time to take in the surrounding scenery. the route kind of reminded me of rifle range road back at home.
we stayed in 2 different places. one was near to the running site and the other in the city center area. i’m writing this post, while laying comfortably on a day couch, with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding.
wifi access is definitely better in the 2nd hotel.
in another few hours, we will be heading back to reality. we are expecting 2 other trips up north, before we come to the close of the year.