Vermillion, yellows and blues framed in opulent green; butterflies doing the tango; glistening torso with taut muscles and tiny droplets, Swarovski or sweat; lithe bodies in designer togs sprinting past; seniors enjoying the cool breeze; stroller moms giving way to weary commuters returning to their bases; dog walkers leashed onto dogs of different breeds and sizes: Vignettes from the much traversed Bowen Road trail, a 2.5 kilometer walking/jogging track clinging to its pristine allure with occasional vehicles the trespassers.
The initial climb of ‘just a few steps’, from the Peak Tram Station on Garden Road, turned into plenty following in
the rail-steps of the Peak tram. But the climb is an ecological treat of splendorous vistas amid mountainous landscape and continuous constructions. Well worth the strain of climbing the steps. The way the old is supplanted by new, the green cover of the Peak area might soon be replaced by bricks.
Hong Kong is about walking with nearly 180 miles of hiking trails excluding the iconic subway arteries, beaches, woodlands, mountains, walkways, escalators, connectors and steps (Po Lin monastery, Lantau). Hong Kong has a secret ingredient…’distance shortener’ i.e. the stunning views of the countryside whether it is Aberdeen, Tai Tam and Shek O parks, the beaches or the trails of Kowloon and the New Territories, the islands of Lamma, Lantau, Cheng Chau and Peng Chau.
The Bowen Road trail is approachable from Peak Tram Mid Levels end or Happy Valley/Stubbs road. We started from Magazine Gap and Bowen Road intersection near the Peak Tram station, Mid-Levels towards Stubbs Road, Happy Valley. Mid-way is the Lover’s Rock or Yan Yuen-Suk, hidden by dense foliage and decked in colorful buntings, lotus flowers and vermillion paints. The
mesmerizing smell of joss sticks, presence of statues of gods and goddess turning the Rock into timeless Chinese folklore. The much venerated 9 meters high phallic shaped Rock takes on a new avatar every Maiden’s Day Festival on seventh day of the seventh month (mid-August) of the Chinese calendar. Unmarried girls, mothers, wives seek it’s blessings for magical makeovers of romantic and marital dilemmas, to unravel, to observe or retrospect, a luxury in clapboard Hong Kong. Three girls diligently climbed the slippery moss coated steps with offerings, joss sticks, flowers and water bottles but did not appreciate visitors intruding on their private moment. We promptly left wondering whether their wishes had been fulfilled.
Back to trail level the peace is shattered by the concretization of a hazardous slope, the soon-to-be-grey an eye-sore in the green belt. The exercise paraphernalia along the trail a way to entice people to move their limbs and the Bowen Road Garden and smaller parks to re-charge energy levels.
Finally the Stubbs Road (Happy Valley) end looms ahead with the Happy Valley Racecourse visible through the trees and the omni present traffic noice…signs of city life.