A Love of Hiking
I like noticing the small things, because fundamentally, I like the feeling of living in the Now. Certainly, this is something I find MUCH easier to say than do, except, when I’m urban hiking in Hong Kong.
Julia (my partner) and I absolutely LOVE hiking. And, we’ve done a lot of it! In fact, we’ve hiked and backpacked all over the world including backpacking on the Via Dinarica Trail in The Balkans and even backpacking on Lantau Island here in Hong Kong. But, in addition to appreciating hiking and backpackign through far flung, remote and pristine landscapes, we also have come to appreciate, or maybe even love, hiking through Hong Kong’s urban cityscape.
And we love to share our love for this city too! So, if you’re like us to guide you on this urban hike, click below, send us a message, and we’ll be in touch with you shortly!
In Hong Kong, as well as in most other cities I’ve visited, the city’s constant evolution and flux grows in me a childlike eagerness to go out and explore. Each time we set out from our flat in Kennedy Town, I’m overwhelmed with the prospect of experiencing some new, yet subtle, change in this big beautiful creature of a city. To me, each foray into the urban jungle that is Hong Kong, is like a real life I Spy or Where’s Waldo experience. And, as much scrutiny and attention to detail I’d put into either of those two activities, I too put it into our urban hiking experiences.
So, you might have already gotten my vibe as to what I mean by ‘urban hiking’, but I wanna delve a little deeper. When I talk about an ‘urban hike’, I’m taking about the nourishingly lazy strolls Julia and I go on nearly every Saturday morning.
Usually, we end up being out and about for a couple of hours, but on our urban hikes, there are no hard fast rules. One time we set out for what we thought would be a few hour excursion, but after 15 minutes of walking in the sweltering city heat, we turned around and went home. Another time in spite of the heat, we lost ourselves in the beautiful details of this captivating city and ended up walking nearly 10 miles from Kennedy Town all the way to Chai Wan MTR station! Sometimes our walks terminate at the super delicious and authentic dim sum restaurant, Lin Heung Tea House.
The theme that unites nearly all of our urban hikes is mindfulness. But I’m not talking about the type of mindfulness I’ve attempted to achieve when in the past I have actively attempted to be mindful – that pseudo mindfulness that is not really mindfulness because I’m thinking about being mindful – I’m talking about natural, organic, passive mindfulness. Real mindfulness. And I think the main reason I experience it on our urban hikes is because I don’t actively seek it. I’m just in the moment, with my love, with the rhythm of our feet patting on the pavement and the city swirling all around us.
It’s in those moments my mind opens. It is in those moments my mind is free. And with that freedom, Julia and I end up having deeply meaningful conversations. In fact, some of our most meaningful and formative talks have happened on the very route I’m about to detail for you below. Maybe our route will do the same for you!
What We See
In a sentence, we see the small details, like a living macro photographic experience. We notice new bits of graffiti that may have shown up or been panted over on Hong Kong’s very own Instagram Pier, we point out how the gardeners at Sun Yat Sen park seem to rotate the closed off section in a clockwise direction, and we posit they do this to prevent the grass from getting worn out too quickly.
And, we often marvel at how some times our favorite urban hiking route is scattered with dog poo and cigarette butts and how at other times it’s virtually spotless. Sometimes we hop on the tram for a few stops to rest our feet and to bask in this quaint relic of Hong Kong’s past. We sit on the upper deck, lulled by the tram’s soothing clickity-clack, and we paint mental images of what Hong Kong was like in its days of old. And then of course, we hop right back off the tram to meander through dried seafood shops where we marvel at the surprisingly expensive products and attempt to grow accustomed to the thick smell of fish.
Sometimes, we detour from our usual route in search of a bubble tea. If we’re urban hiking anywhere within the vicinity of a meal time, we keep an eye out for any restaurants with a line out the door, and regardless of the cuisine, we’ll go there to eat. We have found many hole in the wall culinary gems, we are perpetually trying to decide which restaurant make the best version of these delicious Hong Kong soul foods.
Why We Urban Hike
We urban hike because we love the freedom of it all. We love the fact that our urban hikes are what we make of them. For us, it’s sometimes about getting to know all the tiny details of where we live, and sometimes it’s about getting a bit of a workout, and sometimes, it’s completely open-ended. But through our urban hikes we have constantly rediscovered our truth that we don’t really have to travel very far (after all, travel does solve all of your problems) or spend a lot of money to find something new and exciting.
In fact, we urban hike because it reaffirms to us that our interactions and our experiences together are the fabric of our relationship and the fabric of what we consider a fulfilling life. I hope our urban hiking route can at least provide you with some entertainment and at most can do for you what it has done for us.
What You’ll Need
For this urban hike, all you’ll need is a bit of water, and you’ll be good to go! I like the Hydro Flask water bottles*, as they’re super sturdy, and best of all, insulated. If it’s hot, I pack it with ice, and if it it’s cold, I’ll fill it with warm water. Either way, don’t use a plastic disposable bottle. We and Mother Earth say thank you in advance! (If you’re keen to start living a little greener, check out our Living Greener Guide to Hong Kong or even Hong Kong’s first zero waste store.)
My hope is that the following annotated pictures speak for themselves. Part of our love for urban hiking is figuring out our route on our own, finding those hole in the wall eateries with a bit of trial and error. So, in that spirit I’m not going to give too many “instructions.” Basically, start in Kennedy Town near Checkmate’s Pizza, and head east (along the shoreline) towards Central. We usually end our urban hike with a nice relaxing chill out session at the Central Ferry Pier, but by no means stop there if you’re feeling a good flow. Also, just for formality, we do NOT endorse you breaking any rules while urban hiking. If there are signs telling you to keep out of an area, our official advice is, keep out. However, what you choose to do is, well, your own choice!
Use your instincts to find your way, explore all the nooks and crannies, and whatever you do, enjoy! Last but not least, if you too are an urban hiker, in the comments below let us know about some of your favorite routes. Thanks!
Not sure you wanna navigate this on your own? Let us guide you! Just click below, send us a message, and we’ll be back in touch with you shortly!
Get Urban Hiking in Hong Kong
All you need to do now, is fill up your water bottle, lace up your shoes and get urban hiking. If you’re keen for something a little more strenuous, but in this same part of town, you should definitely consider hiking High West. If you do either of these options, and are looking for a bite to eat, check out these delicious and affordable Kennedy Town restaurants or the super authentic dim sum at Lin Heung.
And whatever you do, leave us a comment below so we can know what you think about all of this!
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What a great concept! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the kind words!
I’ve done this without realising there was an official name for it 🙂 I usually go alone, and it seems easier doing this alone as an inexperienced rural hiker. Recently, I walked from Causeway Bay to Pok Fu Lam. I intended to make it to Cyber Port, but got hungry and turned around ;). Anyhow, I enjoyed reading this article. I would love to participate in an organised version of this one day, if possible!
Hi Lacy, thanks for the kind words! Sounds like you’re quite the urban hiker yourself! We’ve toyed with the idea of organizing some of these urban hikes, so we’ll keep you posted if/when we do. As an aside, we’re likely going to do a clean up day at Turtle Beach (likely late August or early September), so if you’d like to get all those details, join our e-mail list! If you know anyone else who’d be interested, have them join our list too! Thanks for taking the time to read our stuff!
Great post… I just returned from living in Sai Ying Pun for the last 6 months and used to run this exact route every morning.
Next to the walk-over bridge on the corner of Eastern Street and Connaught Road, there is a dry sea food shop (yes, there are many) – it’s right next to the ramp to walk over the foot bridge – 4th shop from the corner. Every morning the owner arrives with his old arthritic Labrador doggie. While the owner bends down to unlock the roll-up shutter, the doggie sits down drags his bum across the pavement… Then, when the shutter is raised the shop cat rushes out to affectionately welcome the doggie (his best friend) back every morning. Made me smile every morning I managed to catch it.
I am so glad to hear you have such fun memories of the same route! Thanks for your great comment 🙂