Weekend Blog – Lion’s Rock and Art Jamming.

EDIT: My 100th post! whooo!

Happy Monday Y’all! (I would literally never use ‘Y’all’ in real life and I now feel incredibly awkward haha.)

Anyways! The majority of this weekend was spent outdoors witnessing the beautiful weather Hong Kong had on offer whilst training for the upcoming Spartan Race in 3 weeks. I’m incredibly nervous for this race because I am by no means a runner, so much so that my boyfriend bought me some VS underwear to match my relationship with the action.

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Although the Spartan Race is only a 6km run, it also involves 20-25 obstacles which will require strength and endurance which I probably have more of than cardio respiratory endurance. As my training consists of high-intensity training, Bootcamp and Bear Camp once a week, I can’t say I feel too prepared! However, I am looking forward to being completely pushed out of my comfort zone mentally and physically and hey, who knows, I may actually enjoy it!

Saturday started with our weekend routine of Grit Strength @ The HIT ROOM. It was a pretty hard class but as I felt myself getting fitter, my motivation pushed me through to the end. It was probably the first class in my life where I hadn’t missed a single rep. With my endorphins running high, we agreed to go on a hike with some friends over on Kowloon side.

As we were making our way to the beginning of the route, my fatigue started to set in which left me wondering why I couldn’t have kept my damn mouth shut and spent my Saturday poolside. It took us a good hour and a half to get to Fei Ngo Shan in Ma On Shan Country Park and we set off on our merry way. After about 30 minutes uphill, we realized that the taxi dropped us off nowhere near the starting point of the hike and after an hour of extreme heat and grumpiness (on my part), we finally reached the beginning of the hike up to Lion’s Rock.

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The views were spectacular and I can’t imagine how beautiful they would be at night. I would even say that these Kowloon sites rival The Peak.

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I wouldn’t say the trail is challenging up until the last 20 minutes up stairs to reach the top. On the way down, we were fortunate to run into some jungle monkeys which was amazing to observe. They were totally unfazed by mass groups of passing hikers however, one did give me the stink eye whilst I was attempting to take a picture. They can be vicious so make sure you have no food or bags in your hands.

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All in all, it was a great day and despite me being absolutely exhausted after 4 and a half hours of exercise that day, I would 100% recommend this route to everyone.
Duration:
About 3.5 hours total
Difficulty: 6/10. Steep climbs towards the end.
Appreciation: 8/10. The Kowloon views were stunning, even on a smoggy day like we experienced.

Transportation: Get to Won Tai Sin MTR station, Exit B3. Don’t make the mistake of cabbing it from Choi Hung MTR station!

On Sunday we were hit with extreme jelly legs so we decided to take it easy and bring my dog squad for an easy walk up the mountain to get some blood pumping to the legs. Sometimes, I can’t get over what a beautiful place I live in and I hope to never take it for granted!

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In the afternoon, my boyfriend had planned for us to go Art Jamming. As it was our first time, I had no idea what to expect. We turned up to Blush to find two spaces set up for us near the window of what looked like a flower arranging room. Our easels faced the busy concrete jungle of HK and it was such a relaxing experience. They provided little sandwiches and cakes, background music and were happy to help my boyfriend with his eager beaver questions on his brush strokes.

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That’s it for this weekend. What did you get up to?

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Our trip to Guilin, China.

Thanks to my job in education, this summer meant 7 weeks of pure blissful holiday! The only downside was being in between contracts, which meant no salary for 2 months and concluded in no real plans for a summer vacation. Although I was prepared for a summer spent down at my local club, living the life of a Tai Tai, by the first month this quickly grew old. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the stunning weather Hong Kong displayed for pretty much 2 months straight, I just craved a change of scenery.

As much as I would have loved to be drinking a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc poolside of a Southern Eastern paradise, I wanted more of an adventure which wouldn’t break the bank, didn’t eat up too much of my boyfriend’s annual leave and meant that I didn’t have to fly.

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I came across Guilin which I found out was only 4 and a half hours by train. Guilin was also the first trip I had ever taken without my parents at the age of 10 years old with school (shout out to the DBIS squad!) so it seemed like the perfect place to return to, 16 years later with my boyfriend. So two days later, we were off to China. I’m not going to lie, I tried to talk myself out of going, especially when I had done my routine Social Media account check after awaking to find out there had been a close earthquake only 12 hours previously. Others would feel excitement at the chance to go away, but it did take a lot of courage on my half to force myself to Hung Hom station at 6am.

DAY 1- After a very pleasant 2-hour train trip to Guang Zhou, we cabbed it to another train station to catch our train to Guilin. Now this train experience was very different and we both felt like fish out of water. It was cramped, loud and in all honesty, a little bit grim. Though the views from the train were breathtaking and I wouldn’t have traded for anything as we got to see what most miss whilst flying. Just as the obnoxious man next to me continued to scream at his phone in a conversation for over 2 hours, we caught eyes with a little girl sticking her tongue out at us. After a game of sticking out tongues, she then came over and offered us a peanut, followed by handfuls over the next 30 minutes. I had luckily bought a colouring book and felt tip pens in my tired state in Guang Zhou which I gifted to this little girl. The look in her eyes was something I’d never forget and her mum ensured she repay the favour by giving us some face cream from the cosmetics factory she worked for. That was my first lesson of the trip, don’t prejudge anyone, not even the asshole on his phone who’s  giving you an earache.

We arrived in Guilin at around 8pm and caught a Taxi to the Shangri-La where we would stay for the next 5 nights. It was a nice hotel with lovely staff and beautiful views from the room but don’t expect too much food wise. However, I would say that the hotel especially catered for children and I would 100% recommend The Shangri-La to families staying in Guilin.

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DAY 2- After a long sleep in the extremely large comfy hotel bed, we headed out to do some exploring of the area. First stop were the Reed Flute Caves which I remember doing on Year 6 camp. We arrived at the site where we chose to enjoy a 7-minute walk through the botanical gardens, rather than paying for a 2-minute train journey. Got to get my 10,000 steps in!

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The caves were truly magnificent, although like many attractions, it was a total tourist trap with gift shops coming out your eyeballs. The arrangement of the lights were absolutely stunning and I was in constant awe walking through, so much so, that I didn’t want to leave.

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After the Reed Flute caves, we headed to Zhengyang Pedestrian Street which is known as the shopping and food quarter in Guilin. It was quite an interesting place that apparently comes alive at night.

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Surprisingly enough, the no. 1 restaurant in Guilin according to my trusty Trip Advisor was the Indian Restaurant of Kali Mirch and as avid Indian Cuisine fanatics, we just had to try it. It was good but I quickly realised how spoilt we actually are in Hong Kong with amazing family run, authentic Indian joints.

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Day 3 – Due to a typhoon passing Southern China, it brought a halt to our site seeing which meant a day spent at the hotel. Luckily, the weather had improved by evening so we took an evening Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise which was recommended by the hotel. Apart from the Sun and Moon Pagodas (pictured below), the cruise consisted of lit up buildings and fishermen bird shows which just seemed overly rehearsed and staged. It was actually quite upsetting watching these bird chained up, made to dive for fish, swallow fish and regurgitate them every 5 minutes when a new cruise boat would pass. Everything about it was so gimmicky and I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to experience true Chinese architecture and culture.

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Day 4 – Today was a day of accomplishments for me both physically and mentally. We booked a bike tour as we had wanted to tour the countryside whilst getting some exercise in. We met up with our tour guide Mark Tang , who led us through manic streets through to the outskirts of the city. We rode to the rurality of Guilin and enjoyed the view of stunning limestone hills, rice fields, old villages and beautiful rivers. Half way through the ride with some burnt shoulders and a numbed backside, we stopped off for some roadside famous Chinese rice noodles. You were able to add your own toppings such as chilli, chives, bamboo shoots and soybeans. They were the best noodles we had ever had, all for 5¥ (HK $6) !

img_1439img_1433img_1430img_1427img_1424img_1423dsc00931img_1440The views were stunning and our tour guide Mark was extremely friendly and had such in-depth knowledge of Guilin and China. If any of you are ever interested in a bike tour in Guilin, make sure to contact him via Facebook or here.

Day 5 – On our last day, we took a boat cruise tour down the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. The cruise is over 52 miles long and is estimated to take 3 and a half hours. The eye-feasting landscape did not disappoint!!

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When we arrived at Yangshuo, we were given 20 minutes to explore before we were given the choice of a tour of a silk factory or the countryside for an additional large amount. After spending 5 minutes in Yangshou, we knew we had to sack off the tour group and explore at our own pace. Yangshou was filled with bars, restaurants, shops, hostels and had a great energy about it. Our only regret was that we didn’t spend more time experiencing all that Yangshuo had to offer as I have read that the hiking and the scenery were some of the best in the country.

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It was great to return to a place 16 years on, travelling through mainland China by train and immersing ourselves in a culture so different to Hong Kong despite it being so close in distance. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone every single day and all in all, I am so grateful for my out of the norm summer experiences! x