Sheung Wan to the Peak: 5.4 Miles

Guest Post by: Finance Junior Robert Barrett. He is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient who participated in a Foster Exchange at Hong Kong University in Fall Quarter 2018.

I’ve been in Hong Kong for a little over a month, and while I love the constant energy of the streets, living in one of the densest cities on earth can be a tad stressful at times. So to cope, I run. Thankfully, there is no better place to escape the crush load of Hong Kong than in lush green hills that hug the city below. So for my first blog entry, I thought of no better way to show the city than on a run.

A route I run often is from Sheung Wan to the Peak. I love this route because it captures the whole spectrum of scenery, from city streets to forested peaks, and provides postcard worthy views around every turn.

Starting on the crowded Queen’s Road West, I head West towards Sai Ying Pun, I pass by the the mix of local fruit stands and bakeries commingled with the more Western coffee shops and supermarkets, dodging around people on the tiny sidewalks. Hong Kong is a city of contradictions and fusions; a financial hub and former British colony of rocky islands on the tip of Southern China, Hong Kong has a unique culture that fuses the two together in exciting and fascinating ways.

As I ascend up the stairs of Eastern Street, vendors and dim sum spots give way to neighborhood streets full of auto shops, cafes, and condo towers. The wall of King George Park appears stately on the left, while the alleys of intricate graffiti create a youthful edge on the right. At the top of the stairs, Bonham Road with its crowds and traffic greets me to a rest as I walk with the crowd to cross the street up to West End Park.

I continue up into the Mid-Levels, a wealthy neighborhood full of tall private towers overlooking Sai Ying Pun and the University of Hong Kong below. The streets are thin now, and I start to see other runners headed towards the same goal as me. After some zig-zagging, I finally reach the start of the Morning Trail, aka Hatton Road. Hatton Road is a windy path extends along the Western Edge of Victoria Peak, trafficked by groups of friendly hikers and unstoppable runners; so unstoppable that the day after Typhoon Mangkhut hit various runners including myself climbed through the fallen branches that covered the path to get up.

As I ascend, I start to get glimpses of the city lights below, contrasting with the dim lights of the trail. I stop at the top of the Road to get water, then turn East onto Harlech Road, the South end of the Island looking quaint below the waterfalls and canyons along the way. Eventually I reach the Peak Tower, full of tourists looking out on the estates along the Peak and the city below.

Coming back down is exhilarating as well; to spice up the run sometimes I take the nature paths built into the hillsides. When jumping over loose rocks, branches, and even small streams along the skinny hillside paths, it can feel almost disorienting to look out at the 40-storey apartments just 200 feet away. So close to civilization exists a whole other world of tropical plants and wildlife; while HKU has warned us about the wild boars near school, I did not expect to run into a porcupine at night along one such run.

But during this run I just go West along Lugard Road, watching as Central turns into Sai Wan, as the trail winds by more mansions, and through a beautifully overgrown India-rubber tree. As I descend back down Hatton Road, I find it comforting to return the city, only slightly sleepier in the night time.

As my run comes to a close, I find it helpful to take in the awe that I have for everything here. It can be easy to get lost in the flurry of friends and experiences, but taking the chance to step back and take the city in has been the most rewarding way for me to explore. As I continue on, I’m excited to see all the other trails and runs that the city has to offer!