Hong Kong: On Saturday morning the South Island Amigos (SIAs) — a group of six Pok Fu Lam-based guys whom I cycle with from time to time — headed to the hills of Lantau Island for a change of scenery and a good workout in 90% humidity. The SIA’s is a multinational group consisting of three Americans, a Brit, a Singaporean and a Canadian, but we don’t hold that against him.
Our destination: the Big Buddha at Po Lin Monastery, which was shrouded in clouds. By the time we ascended the mountain, we were lucky to have some visibility of the world’s largest outdoor seated Buddha.
The four Pok Fu Lam-base cyclists met at 6:30am, and cycled to the ferry piers in Central, the business district of Hong Kong, where we met two more guys at 7:00am. So far all according to plan. However, as we tried to board a 7:10am ferry for Lantau, we were told that bicycles can only be taken aboard slow ferries, which meant a 90 minute wait. So we quickly changed plan, headed over to Airport Express, and took the fast train to the HK Airport in air conditioned comfort.
After arriving at the airport, we then cycled past the town of Tung Chung, for the first big test of the day — the killer mountain pass over to the other side of Lantau. The clouds were thick, visibility was low, and the pass was steep. My rear tire spun on the damp surface, my bike stalled and I crashed, which is generally not advisable in the middle of the road with auto traffic behind. Eventually we made it to the Buddha. I think I generated about a litre in perspiration on the way up. After some photo opportunities we enjoyed a good long coffee break at Starbucks.
After Starbucks, we cruised to the water village of Tai O, which is on the southern tip of Lantau, then began the ride up the pleasantly hilly Lantau coast to Silvermine Bay, where we caught a slow boat back to Hong Kong island with just a minute or two to spare. In total, we cycled about 46 miles [75 km]. It felt much longer, especially as we had to cycle through Saturday afternoon traffic in Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town on our way back to Pok Fu Lam. When I arrived home at 3pm I went straight into carbo replenishment with a huge plate of pasta. I was famished and nearly dehydrated.
This morning, I cycled another 45 miles back on Hong Kong island, in a familiar route from my home to the Peak to Shek O and back. My Cateye computer says I climbed 4,300 feet today. That seems exaggerated, as the Peak itself is 1600 feet, with an 18% slope in a couple spots. However much I climbed, it was an enjoyable ride. I think yesterday’s carbo loading helped. The weather was beautiful, though still highly humid, which is par for the course in Hong Kong. About mid-way up to the Peak I snapped this shot of Central, the harbor and beyond.
I was in Bali, Indonesia for a conference earlier in the week, and returned to Hong Kong on Friday night in order to do this weekend’s cycling and to spend some time with my son. Definitely the right call, though the Indonesian archipelago is as beautiful as ever.