Walks 10: Wilson Trail Stage 1 – The Twins and Violet Hill

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‘The Twins’… Don’t they sound like a lighthearted comedy duo, perfect for hosting a children’s birthday party perhaps? The Ha-Ha Twins, or The Giggle Twins, maybe…? Or so I found myself thinking, whimsically, as I set out one sunny March morning to walk Stage 1 of the Wilson Trail, AKA ‘The Twins’. And yet I discovered, like my synonymous comedy duo, that this trail has very little to laugh about, and is definitely something I would discourage children from going anywhere near.

The alarm bells sounded as I began the trail and immediately started going up, and up, and up… I was already in a bad mood as I had taken the wrong bus from Central and missed the starting point (Hint: if attempting this hike, take the 6, or the 6A, or the 260, to Stanley, and the relevant stop will be clearly announced. Don’t take the 6X – ‘X’ presumably stands for ‘X-actly the same route as the other buses, barring the tiny stretch of road that you actually want’.) Anyway, I eventually found the trail and, as I said, started to go up, and up… Soon the Stanley peninsula, which had been spread out gloriously below, was disappearing in the clouds. Various people had described this hike to me and ‘it’s a bitch’ had been the most flattering account. This came into sharp focus as, after twenty minutes, I was still ascending. And sweating a lot. Although the experience of being deep inside a cloud is strangely relaxing: sounds are muffled and hillsides plunge in to the slate-grey void.

IMG_2775 IMG_2776 Finally, after an age of going up, the trail started to go down, and down, and down… Almost the same distance again in descent. My calves were taking a pounding. Suddenly, though, I left the clouds above and was presented with a view of Tai Tam Reservoir to my right and the uber-swanky apartments of Repulse Bay to my left. I got a cramp in my stomach from all the stepping and had to, pathetically, sprawl out on the trail to catch my breath at the bottom. And then, joy of joys, the path began to go up again, to the summit of Violet Hill. Which, for some reason, I remembered was a Coldplay song. So, to cap it all off there I was, amid a punishing hike, with Coldplay stuck in my head.

IMG_2777  IMG_2779 From the top of Violet Hill, the northern side of Hong Kong Island became visible, and the skyscrapers and harbour flitted in and out from between the clouds. From then on the trail flattened out and I wound my way down to Parkview: the end of Stage 1. I had intended to do Stage 2 as well, finishing at the MTR station in Quarry Bay. But if you are doing this hike like me and, I am ashamed to say, admit defeat, you can slink off down the road to Wong Nei Chung Gap. From here you can get any number of buses back to Central.

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Ding Ding

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I took these pictures on my way home from a restaurant last week, and thought it was high time I paid my respects to a Hong Kong institution: the humble tram.

They’ve been rumbling along Hong Kong island since 1904 – which is basically the Hong Kong equivalent of the Jurassic Age – between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan (pulling in at 104 stops on the way). Along with the Star Ferry, which I may pay tribute to in a later post next time I’m feeling sea-worthy, trams are actually quite fun. Maybe it’s the five year old within me, but the way you hear every clang and feel every little jerk and jump on the line is brilliant. Buses and the MTR may be fast, modern and air-conditioned but, in comparison to the tram, ultimately they are soulless tin cans designed to ingest and push out humans as quickly as possible.

So, next time you’re not in a hurry, or not looking for a particularly comfortable ride, and you don’t view air-conditioning as a basic human need, take a tram. Ding-ding, as they say around here…