Hong Kong is not China. I knew it on paper (literally), but it took a couple days of exploration and hanging out with locals to find a taste of the unique experience that this city offers. Towering skyscrapers jet up like corn stalks from the coast of a lush island that is Hong Kong island. At 5PM the bustling city center is littered with more $2,000 suits and beautiful sports cars than Stings wardrobe next to a Mercedes dealership. This place oozes with wealth- unlike anywhere I've ever been. If you hit the streets at the right time (after the daily grind) it would seem as though everyone is rich. The number of high fashion stores and chic restaurants are double that of your typical Asian street vendor or Chinese noodle shops. In a way, just admiring the wealth is tiring.
I don't often find myself in places like Hong Kong. Both because it's simply too expensive for my budget and because I mostly seek the rawness and grit that I've come to love about Asian cities. However, a couple friends of a friend (who are now good friends.. you know how it is) offered me a room in their awesome 10th story, downtown apartment and I couldn't resist. It turns out that amongst the sea of stock traders and financial geeks there is indeed a climbing community here, and (as to be expected) they are a kick ass bunch at that. Over the course of only a couple days I've had a chance to meet a handful of the HKG climbing crew and even share a rope with a few of them.
I'm fascinated with the life of the urban climber. Being from Boulder, where great climbing exists within sight at nearly every moment is quite a contrast to the struggle that is being an urban climber. Where we walk to the world-class gym of our choice, these guys travel deep into suburbs and industrial parks to find a crowded, low-ceiling room of 2 year old boulder problems. It's the nature of the city I guess- even getting your pull-down on is a grind.
But today I got a proper tour of some impressive cliffs on a island just a short distance away from the big city. Within 30 min of being surrounded by huge buildings, street noise and exhaust we were stepping foot onto a beautiful island tickled by crashing waves and adorned with some much appreciated noodle shops. Welcome to Tung Lung Island. Right next to the water one will find a couple short, but awesome volcanic cliffs that are covered with quality. I was beginning to understand where these such urban climbers derive their inspiration from. I tried to sample as many routes as I could, having only tied in 2 times in the past (month?). I was impressed with mostly everything I got on honestly, with highlights including 'The Corner' 6c+, Todd Skinners wicked 'Tung Lung Bad Boy' 7c+, 'Dimple Face' 7b+, 'Naughty Dragon' 8a, 'It's a Sin, Steal the Sky' 7a+ and 'Epiphany' 7c+. The setting and the escape from the city are reason alone to check this cool spot out.
We are heading out again tomorrow morning to sample some more burl before I catch my boat-then plane-then bus to Yanghsou. I will be in Yangshou for 2-3 weeks and I've been told that blogging is strictly not allowed in China- I will give my best effort, but unfortunately this may be my last post until the New Year... stay tuned in!!
I hope that everyone is enjoying their December either in the comfort of the BRC or perhaps you're an urban type somewhere out there, grindin'!! I want to give special thanks to Kevin and Cherie for putting me up in Hong Kong and I wanna shout the local climbing community with this link to Hongkongclimbing.com where you will find all the beta needed as well photos and maps to get you on real rock when you visit the financial capital of the East.. bring a nice shirt and some slacks though, cause when the day of cragging is over you will have to get fancy again.
photos: Hong Kong from the mountain, myself climbing Naughty Dragon 8a, bouldering at Go-Nature, The Sea Gully cliffs..