MacLehose Trail / Tai Po

The next day, my dad let me sleep in (probably due to my complaining about not being able to sleep in the past 2 days). :-) After we woke up, we went to do stages 6 and 7 of the MacLehose trail. Stage 6 was fairly easy, but stage 7 was rather challenging. Stage 7 had a hill on it called needle hill. Iíd swear it was a vertical climb. Thereís 714 consecutive stairs at one point. This is after several smaller sections that have a few hundred stairs. In between these sets of stairs, its just hilly. The views again were magnificent.

As we were about half way done with stage 7 (well past the point where it would make sense to turn back) we had a little unexpected run in. Walking along the trail, we turn the corner and see two bulls. Two large, black, and well-horned bulls. We both stopped when they were about 20 yards away yet. I said to my dad, "I didnít know there were bulls on the trail?". He replied, "I didnít either". Then I asked, "If they charge at us, should we run off the trail going upwards, or downwards?". The trail was hugging a steep hill at this point, so going up wasnít going to be easy, and going down meant a pretty steep drop. I became more nervous when my dad went over to one side and looked at the drop, and then went over to the other side of the trail and tugged on the tree to see if we could climb it to try to go upwards. The fact that he was assessing the situation, and also noticing that escape routes (should they be needed) were about non-existent, didnít help much. Of all the spots on this trial, this was probably the worst place to run in to a wild bull. Not that any place is particularly good. All the while we were assessing things, this bull is sauntering towards us. Not running, not charging, just sauntering. We decided to rationalize, and figured that people had been walking these trails for years so, someone must have seen these bulls before, and these bulls must have seen people before. I did figure that if he charged, I'd jump over the cliff on the left, after all I had an opposable thumb and he didnt. So if he came after me, chances are, I'd catch on and he wouldnt. We had no choice in what we would do because by this time the bull was about 10 feet away we hadnt thought of anything. We werenít turning back, and so we walked forward, past him. He gave a glance, but nothing more than that. All the time, my heart was pounding. Who knew if he would get upset at us being there, and just start charging. I have no recollection from any class in highschool or college as to whether or not bulls are territorial, but I didnít spend too much time dwelling on it. As we past him and his buddy, we rounded the corner only to see about 20 more. I took a few photos of them, but all of them were taken while I was walking. After we passed them, I think it dawned on me that it was a lot less dangerous than we originally thought. Still, I felt like a bad-ass. :-)

When we ended stage 7, we didnít really know where to go. There are some stages (like the end of stage 5) that are designed to be end points and have areas where you can pick up busses or trains. The end of 7 is not one of those places. It just leads you to the beginning of 8. We were able to find out from a local that Tai Po was about a 45 minute walk. We decided to try it. Along the trail, we stopped to get the water out of the backpack, and my dad asked me what that was on my shorts. It was some sort of slug/caterpillar that was about Ĺ to ĺ inches in diameter, and about 5 inches long. I about freaked. Thereís a few things Iím not fond of, and bugs/insects/bees/crawlies are one of them. It had tentacles that were about an inch long. I must have flicked it about 3 times before it came off. I had to take a picture. For me, this was about as scary as the bulls. We made it to TaiPo in about 35 minutes or so, going through some pretty desolate looking neighborhoods. Tai Po was definitely not the kind of place that saw many tourists. We stuck out a little. We made it to a Circle K (for those that donít know, thatís like a 7-11 that can be found on the west coast of USA). I downed 2 bottles of Gatorade faster than I ever have before. It was close to 90 degrees and weíd been hiking for a good 5 hours, maybe 6. I got a scratch off ticket with my purchase, and felt a little dumb scratching it off. Like I was going to be able to read what was under there... We figured out where to catch the train at, and headed home.

After we went back and showered, we went walking before going out to dinner. We went to a part of HongKong called Central. The neat thing about Central on a Saturady night, is seeing all the Ammaís. An "amma", is the name given to the Phillipino girls that come to HongKong as soon as they are able to work, so that they can get jobs as house hands, or nannys. They range in age from about 17 to 35. They work 6 days a week, with every single one them having off on Sunday. So every Sunday, about 3000 of them meet in the center of Central and just hang out. It was like MardiGras, with the streets just packed with people having a good time. It was neat to see.

That night we went to Mad Dogs, which was a bar that catered to westerners and Europeans. Its actually billed as a rugby bar. Its located in a section of town called Lan Kwai Fong. This area could be described as "America Town". If youíve ever been to a large city in the US, youíve seen the district they call "Chinatown". It has many Chinese shops, and the majority of the people you see are asian, and are speaking Chinese. Now imagine it in reverse, in HongKong. Its mostly westerners hanging out, and the most common language overheard is english. There seemed to be a few pretty cool clubs there. My dad and I had dinner and a few drinks and then headed home.

One the train ride home, I figured something out that was like a moment of clarity for me. The whole time I had been in HongKong, I was wearing sandals, Birkenstocks to be exact. People would point to them on the trains. I thought it must be the sandals. Then I thought it could be the tattoo I have on my ankle, or the toe ring. But I didnít think that would attract so much attention. This time, as two teenagers pointed at my feet, and exchanged words, they compared the size of their feet with each other. That was it. Not only was I a few inches taller than everyone, with my size 13 and a half shoe, I was a sasquatch. I looked around and noticed that everyone had tiny feet. Even the taller people.

This was not the only thing that set me apart. No one there really has facial hair. It made me want to grow a goatee while I was there which I did. Back in the US, people laugh at my inability to grow any facial hair, but there, it actually looked a little decent. And the average height would be about 5í6" for males.

Ocean Park