Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Peak

With a name like "The Peak" I had great expectations for Hong Kong's most famous tourist attraction. I luckily awoke at midday to a brilliant sunny and clear sky, and after a double stack of pancakes I was ready for the cold mountain air. A hair-raising tram ride to the top revealed a new view of Hong Kong and a little perspective regarding the sheer size of the city. Expanses of apartment buildings all looking the same stretch out in front of you until the smog blocks everything from sight. The harbour reveals its true nature - hundreds of cargo ships coming in and out, in and out. Birds of prey circle the sky in freak numbers, as you realise that the city is expanding into their habitat day by day.

I visited the gardens and then took 'The Governors Walk' around the top of the peak. It was a Monday morning and so on most stretches of the paths I could not see another human being looking foward or back. I found this newly discovered silence almost frightening. Tiny birds rustled in the trees, and the fact that I could not only hear them, but stop and stay still and silent enough to eventually spot them, was something altogether different from the entirety of Hong Kong I had experienced thus far. To be brutally honest, I found it unsettling. The drop in temperature meant that I could see my breath and not feel my fingers, and the paths were often steep and I continued onwards uneasily - aware of my extreme aloneness. The shock did not subside even after two hours of (what should have been) peaceful walking. I could do nothing but think, and as the sun began to set and the views faded I was stripped of even visual stimuli to keep my mind alert.

There is something, for me at least, continuously comforting about a bustling city. It is warm even in winter. I am never lonely despite being alone. I am always interested, even if I have seen the streets a thousand times before. Hong Kong pulsates with an energy you can draw from, and I lost that resource when I found myself cold, alone (read: lonely) and exhausted on it's highest point. The view from this place made the city herself look ugly, as if The Peak deliberately aims to reveal the ugly side of it's CBD sister. I did not like this new view, after all, Hong Kong has been incredibly hospitable to me...

What shocks me most is that normally I love the great outdoors. Today has left me confused. The uneasiness that jumped like a monkey on to my back at The Peak has hitched all the way to my writing desk even now.

With a bit of luck a hot shower might scold him off. Then spaghetti, to get that good normal fully-belly feeling back. Perhaps also cake, just for good measure.

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