Livin’ in the Kong! The (Mostly) Great Outdoors of Hong Kong

fong-vertical-asia-at-lrgHaving immersed myself in Hong Kong for about a year now, it seems an apt opportunity to take a moment (or rather, a few posts) to reflect.

Verdant Hong Kong

The most wonderful surprise for me has been the impressive natural elements found throughout HK – providing a beautiful contrast to HK’s more urban and iconic modern developments. Everyone knows HK is packed with glitzy skyscrapers and shopping malls, but even amidst all of that, you stumble across gigantic trees with sprawling roots that snake down city walls.

One of the most dramatic displays of sprawling tree roots - in the heart of Sheung Wan

In the heart of Sheung Wan, the dramatic interplay between the urban and the natural

Parks are full of greenery, the surrounding islands are lush with foliage. Refreshing to view, perhaps all that plant life even helps make up for the occasional smog by pumping some oxygen into this fair city.

The rich green hues of Lamma Island

The rich green hues of Lamma Island

Lush greenery and massive tree roots at Blake Garden in Sheung Wan

Lush greenery and massive tree roots at Blake Garden in Sheung Wan

Embarking on a wonderful hike on the perimeter of Cheung Chau Island

Embarking on a scenic hike on the perimeter of Cheung Chau

One of the things I love most about HK - the blend of east and west, old and new - right in the heart of the city (Blake Garden, Sheung Wan)

One of the things I love most about HK – the blend of east and west, old and new – right in the heart of the city (Blake Garden, Sheung Wan)

Enjoying a late afternoon on Cheung Chau

Enjoying a late afternoon on Cheung Chau

A surprise while exploring Cheung Chau - a working farm with palm trees as a backdrop

A surprise while exploring Cheung Chau – a working farm with palm trees as a backdrop

Some of my favorite trees, along Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan

Some of my favorite trees, along Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan

Wiry but light offshoots of trees in Sheung Wan - that I can't resist touching every time I walk by

Wiry but light offshoots of trees in Sheung Wan – that I can’t resist touching every time I walk by

Tropical greenery and ambitious tree roots in Sheung Wan

Tropical greenery and more ambitious tree roots in Sheung Wan

Even construction sites appear a tad more charming and ‘green’ with elaborate and precarious-looking bamboo scaffolding, instead of the traditional steel versions.

The ubiquitous, intricate, hand-tied bamboo scaffolding in HK - that still makes me nervous for workers

The ubiquitous, intricate, hand-tied bamboo scaffolding in HK – that still makes me nervous for workers

Construction workers perched on bamboo scaffolding (note the absence of any real safety equipment!)

Construction workers perched on bamboo scaffolding (note the absence of any real safety equipment!)

Sea-ing HK

Hong Kong translates literally as ‘fragrant harbour’. While the phrase perhaps does not conjure the most positive images, I assure you it is not reminiscent of the infamous odors that billow up from, say, Venice in the summertime. HK’s piece of the South China Sea does create a beautiful backdrop for the city and serves as the foundation for bustling commuter, tourist, and fishing activity. The aquatic surroundings feed numerous beaches, many within minutes from city central. And the mountains are a lovely bonus.

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The view over Stanley – a mix of manmade and natural surroundings

It's tough to beat a beach with a mountain in the background - weekending on Shek O Beach

It’s tough to beat a beach with a mountain in the background – weekending on Shek O Beach

Repulse Bay Beach lights up during the Mid-Autumn Lunar Festival

Repulse Bay Beach lights up during the Mid-Autumn Lunar Festival

Family frolic and fun (maybe a bit for some than others!) on Stanley Main Beach

Family frolic and fun (maybe a bit for some than others!) on Stanley Main Beach

Colorful but sometimes oppressive crowds on Stanley Main Beach (although the ambitious sand castle is  a nice touch!)

Colorful but sometimes oppressive crowds on Stanley Main Beach (although the ambitious sand castle is a nice touch!)

Windsurfing is a popular draw at Stanley Main Beach

Windsurfing is a popular draw at Stanley Main Beach

While most HKers obsess with skin 'whitening', these dapper fellas are not shy about soaking up the rays and showing off their tans

While most HKers obsess with skin ‘whitening’, these dapper fellas are not shy about soaking up the rays and showing off their tans

A boy and his dog...on Stanley Main Beach

A boy and his dog…on Stanley Main Beach

Beachgoers take a spin around Stanley Main Beach

Beachgoers take a spin around Stanley Main Beach

Rocky formations along Cheung Chau

Rocky formations along Cheung Chau Island

The fishing pier at Cheung Chau

The fishing pier at Cheung Chau

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Victoria Harbour, even busier than usual during the Dragon Boat Festival

The big picture

When the skies are clear (unfortunately not often the case during wintertime) – HK’s vistas are glorious to behold! Classically beautiful views can be yours from multiple vantage points around the islands, whether up on Victoria Peak, at the top of one of HK’s grand skyscrapers, or on Dragon’s Back or on one of the other countless hiking trails.

Hong Kong, viewed from the lofty Ritz-Carlton atop the ICC skyscraper

HK, viewed from the lofty Ritz-Carlton atop the ICC skyscraper

A steamy view of the skyscrapers, post-storm in HK

A steamy view of the skyscrapers, post-storm in HK

Looking out over the edge of Cheung Chau from the rooftop of an abandoned house

Looking out over the edge of Cheung Chau from the rooftop of an abandoned house

Into the heat

There is a bit of a downside to all of this beauty. In the summertime, heading out to explore it means stepping into the heat. And ‘hot’ doesn’t aptly describe Hong Kong in the summer. Those who live here or have visited during this time of the year know that the humidity is often crushing (80% or higher can be the norm). It feels like it melts you on contact.

The infuriatingly oppressive humidity of HK - enough to make anyone cranky (even with adorable pandas nearby)

The infuriatingly oppressive humidity of HK – enough to make anyone cranky (even with adorable pandas nearby)

Add to that the pungent scents of the traditional Chinese medicine and dried seafood shops in Sheung Wan or Sai Ying Pun, which seem to be exaggerated by the blistering heat – and prepare yourself for a bit of a headspin!

Another blisteringly hot and humid day in HK

Another blisteringly hot and humid day in HK

But the temporary pain is, in my opinion, well worth it – at least in short bursts!

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All images © 2014 deb fong photography

Please also visit me at Hong Kong Fong!


4 Comments on “Livin’ in the Kong! The (Mostly) Great Outdoors of Hong Kong”

  1. […] By hong kong fong Having immersed myself in Hong Kong for about a year now, it seems an apt opportunity to take a moment (or rather, a few posts) to reflect. Verdant HK The most wonderful surprise for me has been the impressive natural elements found throughout HK – providing a beautiful contrast to HK’s more urban and iconic […] Like this? Read more and get your own subscription at […]

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