Hiking through the New Territories jungle before daybreak is not something I’m fond of. I like adventure, have had many in fact, but darkness, jungle, wandering cows the possibilities of venomous serpents are not things that enthuse me.
I get up early. Usually very early, a family curse of some sort, some recessive (and mostly likely dangerous) gene could be responsible. Standing outside a Mongkok hotel at 4:30am waiting for a crew of photographers to appear and board a minibus is an interesting way to start a day. Genes not withstanding, I would have rather been drinking coffee.
The crew arrive, some bleary-eyed, some alert and ready, and the bus started off. Somewhere in the New Territories near the Chinese border we turned off on to a smaller road, then a smaller road, then another. Several cows stood in the middle chewing their cud, looking at the high-beams of the minibus with bored indifference. What had a gotten myself into? When you think about Hong Kong you don’t often think about cows standing on the road, blocking your bus.
It isn’t a widely known fact that Hong Kong has a lot of hiking trails. Seriously, lots. It also isn’t widely known that the New Territories are exactly the opposite of Hong Kong island. There aren’t skyscrapers and hustle-bustle. There are small mountains, little villages, wide green spaces. And jungle. And snakes.
The bus dropped us off close to one of these hiking trails. We piled out, in the dark and found a trail which we followed into the underbrush, dodging the occassional cow patty. Even with the sun barely peaking above the horizon it was hot. Like humid, sticky, “I want to die” hot. When your shirt is soaked through before daybreak, that’s hot.
We walked, and walked and walked some more. There were curses, light banter, more curses and a lot of sweat.
The point of the trip had been to reach a certain peak by daybreak. We didn’t quite manage that. We did manage to get to the top of one rather large hill. When the trek leader pointed at another peak in the distance it was decided we had gone far enough. The camera gear came out. Photos were shot.
I don’t know if I will get another chance to shoot away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong that early in the day. The shots I did get were quite nice. Probably not as nice as my compatriots shooting with Hasselblads and cameras so expensive I’m at a loss to name them.