Making history on New Year’s Day with a Lantau Bypass Operation
Some wise guy (definitely not me) once said: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are”. This quote should work the other way around as well, i.e. “Tell me who YOU are and I will tell you who your friends are”. Well, I am CRAAAAAAAAAZY. So, you know what my friends are like. There’s this one guy who is especially crazy; in the interest of respecting his privacy, I can’t tell you his name but I’ll give you only one clue: his name starts with “M”, ends with “N” and there’s a “artij” in between. And, what is so crazy about him? I’ll tell you.
It all started with an easy run I wanted to do to celebrate New Year’s Day. I asked my crazy friends if they were interested in running as well. “Mate, join the Quintuple run“, came the response from Martijn, who was referring to a run he was organizing. I signed up.
I met my crazy #2 friend, Vic, in McDonalds at Tung Chung today morning. We had an interesting conversation.
Me: So, what exactly are we doing today? Going up to Lantau Peak?
Vic: Yes, going up to Lantau Peak.
and then he dropped the bombshell.
Vic: 5 times
5 times?? I have heard “Two is better than one” but since when is FIVE better than 1???
Partaking in the madness were my other equally crazy friends, Olya, Nora, Vivien and Sebastian. And, off we went, attempting to make history with a 32km run that has more than 3500m of accumulated elevation. Oxfam Trailwalker, in comparison, has about 4500m of accumulated elevation spread over 100kms! Madness, pure madness!
Attempt number 1
This one was straightforward. We took a bus to Pak Kung Au from Tung Chung MTR station and hiked up to the 934m Lantau Peak. (Prior to the run, I actually thought that this was all we were going to do).
Look at the view! The beautiful yellow streak in the sky is Shenzhen’s Northern Lights — a very unique phenomena that we in Hong Kong have the unique privilege of witnessing. It’s made of some kick-ass pollution
We celebrated our first successful attempt by cleaning up the garbage on the peak.
In case, you are wondering, I didn’t just take photos. I cleaned up too. (Thought I should mention this in case someday I run for Mayor or something).
We descended to Ngong Ping and ran for about 10 minutes on the concrete trail to Tung Chung hoping to find a sharp right turn to North Heaven Gate trail which was supposed to lead us back to Lantau Peak. Luckily for the group, we had me for navigation. We came across a right turn and everyone (but me) stopped and examined a map to ensure that this was the right turn we were after.
“If this the turn, there should be a toilet up ahead”, deduced Olya after examining the map.
“Yes, I usually pee just up ahead”, I responded, cleverly solving the mystery of the turn.
“But I don’t know if there’s a toilet there”, I added, and off we went on that right turn.
Our first stop was an old house. This house was built in 1862 by Emperor Ding Dong who was rumored to have a magic bell which, when rubbed, brings out a genie from within. (Yes, kind of like Aladdin and his lamp). This bell was excavated recently by the Hong Kong Government and is still displayed in this worn down, rickety, unused house.
The next stop was a “cave”. Now, this is a Hong Kong cave. So, don’t expect any stalactites and stalagmites. Instead, expect a huge hollow opening in a rock. Kind of like this.
The views along North Heaven Gate were heavenly. This ridge is one of the most beautiful ridges in Hong Kong.
We bushwhacked our way to the top, which somehow put Sebastian on a high. “This s**t is good. This is some good s**t”, he kept repeating as he climbed up like a goat on a mountain.
As we were going up to Lantau Peak again, a lot of hikers recognized us from the first time we went up and looked at us bewildered. “Two times?” they asked, and we responded with “No, five times”. Not sure if they thought we were simply amazing or simply stupid.
We ran down a super technical trail to Shek Pik and continued on Lantau trail before taking the West Dog Teeth ridge back up to Lantau Peak. By the way, don’t ask me why the name “Dog Teeth”, there are no dogs on the trail and certainly no teeth. But, I can tell you this much — it’s one heck of a good looking “dog”. Here, take a look:
And, for the 3rd time!
After successfully climbing Lantau Peak 3 times, we descended down to Ngong Ping again for lunch which is where Vic and Vivien decided that they had had enough. Party boy Vic had only 2 hours of sleep the previous night and wanted to go home to catch up on sleep and Vivien preferred hot food to two more Lantau Peak climbs!
Attempt number 4
Nora, Olya, Martijn and I took the steep stairs from Ngong Ping back upto Lantau Peak. By this time, our reputation as lunatics preceded us. We saw the same group of hikers from before who couldn’t believe that we were attempting to climb the peak 5 times. They cheered us on (and probably thought we were idiots deep down inside).
We then ran down in the direction of Pak Kung Au and took a right turn at some point to take another version of Dog Teeth ridge back up to Lantau Peak for our 5th and final attempt. (Yes, I do have a problem remembering geography and the exact names of places but you’ll figure it out..)
Attempt number 5
As we ran down the trail to a concrete road, God bestowed upon me a present to save me from the cold weather. A free ear warmer! Not sure if that’s what it’s called but you get the picture. Ok, if not, here’s the photo.
And, at about 6pm on January 1st, 2013, we made history. We successfully climbed Lantau Peak 5 times from different directions in one day.
We concluded New Year’s Day in style by running down to Pak Kung Au and taking a bus back to Tung Chung.
Of course, I could have climbed up Lantau Peak 6, 7, 8, 9 or even 10 times more. On a helicopter that is.