Showing posts with label AWA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AWA. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hiking: Maclehose Stage 4

They say that stage 4 is one of the toughest of the Maclehose Trail. I sure hope so, because it was hard hiking. Thank goodness for compression socks!

The hike starts with a strenuous climb up to 540 meters (we started around 80). At the top, I stared at the towering peak of Ma On Shan (702 meters) and thought about the day I might conquer it.

The reward after that big first climb is getting to spend time in the uplands and walking along the ridge. I thought this would be a great place to sit and enjoy a packed lunch while taking in the panoramic views over Sai Kung and Ma On Shan.

The ridge eventually takes a big descent down to Ngong Ping viewing area which is where we found loads of paragliders. This was an excellent spot to take a little break and grab a snack.

You would think that big climb is what makes this stage so challenging. For me, it was the big descent after and the multiple ups and downs after that. Descents are hard on the knees, and REALLY hard on mine. The final descent was the toughest, but we did get some amazing views all the way toward Central.

Stage 4 ends in an awkward place. If you are hoping to find public transport at the finish, you either decide to do this hike backwards with a big walk-in or carry on to stage 5. Our hiking group opted to have a big walk-out at the END...this was about another hour walk down a sloped road through the land of monkeys.

View from the top and the elevation chart. The view makes all that climbing worth it!

In a couple of weeks we will be moving on to the next stage and I'm hoping the hard part is behind us.

Previous Maclehose Trail hikes:

How do you rate difficult hikes? (Length, ascent, descent, terrain)

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Trip to Guilin, China + Weekly Wrap

I went on another China adventure to the land of karst mountains and had so much fun! We hiked, we rafted, we explored, we ate and we laughed.

My membership with the American Women's Association offers me the opportunity to do many things including take trips around Asia. I've been to KaipingHarbin, and now Guilin where the famous karst mountains are located.

The morning that we took the bamboo raft ride was rainy and overcast, but it didn't dampen the fun at all. Our rafts were authentic bamboo with the driver using a bamboo pole to push us down the river (we would later see larger rafts with motorboat engines attached and be grateful that we had a genuine experience).

The views from our bamboo raft were absolutely stunning! The karst mountain peaks loomed all around us and the countryside was so peaceful.

We did have a few exciting moments as the rafts dropped over terraces. The first one was a little scary but then after that it was just fun.

We pushed our hiking trip to the next day and it was worth the wait. The hike began with a moderate climb to Xianggongshan where we had amazing views of the Li River and the karst mountains.

The rest of the trail took us through beautiful countryside including right through mandarin plantations. The employees were very friendly as we passed by and our guide gave us each a mandarin orange.

At the bottom of the mountainside our hike continued along the Lijang River to Xingping old town. 

The shore was lined with cormorant fishing boats. The cormorants are tied to the rafts and sent into the water to retrieve fish. We didn't see actual fishing, but the locals were more than ready to pose for photos, for a small fee. (I found this photo on Trip Advisor)

I signed up for this trip because I wanted to see the karst mountains and because we would hiking and bamboo rating down the Yulong River. I like sightseeing, but I like adventure sightseeing even more. It was exactly what I hoped.

And now I'm catching up on blogging. Here's the rest of my workouts for the week:

Monday - Trip prep - lots of walking!

Tuesday - travel to Guilin

Wednesday - Bamboo rafting and sightseeing

Thursday - 7.3km hike and travel back to Hong Kong 

Friday - REST

Saturday - 3 mile run

Sunday - Walk around the neighborhood

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Hiking: Maclehose Trail Stage 3

Embrace the hill!

That should be the mantra heading into this hike because the climbing is no joke.

I'm on a mission to hike all 100 km of the Maclehose Trail in Hong Kong. Unofficially, I started this trail when I hiked stage 2 with my SWIC hiking friends a couple of years ago. Now I'm teaming up with my AWA hiking friends to hopefully finish this beast.

Stage 3 of the Maclehose Trail is rated difficult because of the multiple climbs and rugged trail. You won't find any concrete paths or stairs on this one, but flat rock steps help on the ascents.

The first climb takes you up to Ngau Yee Shek Shan/Ngam Tau Shan at over 400 meters. Although it is quite challenging making your way up, the views of the mountains of Sai Kung and the South China Sea in the distance make rest stops along the way enjoyable (especially if you are there on a clear day).

A rather long and gradual descent takes you to a camping area at Cheung Sheung. This was a large area but the only living creature we saw on this drizzly day was a cow.

The second climb is short and sweet. Here you get the first views of the other side of the mountain toward Three Fathoms Cove and the skyscrapers of Ma On Shan.

Another drop down sets the stage for the final and most grueling climb of the day. The trail is the most rugged and steepest yet as you make your way up to Kai Kung Shan at 399 meters. Sadly after all that climbing we found ourselves in a cloud with no hope for a view.

It was all downhill from there. Literally. The trail gradually and slowly descends to Kei Ling Ha. Slowly because the trail is completely covered with irregular rocks.

At the end of stage 3 there is a very nice picnic area, rest rooms and a vending machine with water. A short walk takes you to the bus stops.

Other hard hikes in Hong Kong:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Weekly Wrap | Playing with Snow & Ice

Over the weekend mrC and I went on a fun trip to Harbin, China put together by the American Women’s Association. Harbin is the capital of the northernest and coldest province in China (we were very near to the Russia border). Each year Harbin hosts one of the largest Ice and Snow Festivals in the world. It was simply amazing and definitely worth braving the frigid temperatures (it was between -24 and -31C each day!). 

We did a lot of exploring and sight-seeing, but we also got to play some too. 

I loved the ice slide ---> we actually borrowed the tube from a Chinese lady and her son not knowing that we could rent our own a few steps away! Ha! They were super nice about it though. 

Ice chair skating? skiing? I wasn't sure what to call it, but it was hard to do. You'll definitely get a good upper body and core workout on this one. I also rode an ice bike.

Snow tube slide. Super fun and a little scary at the same time. I ended up going backwards and my hat slid down over my eyes, so I couldn't see and I was going soooo fast down that hill.

Banana boating in the snow behind a snow mobile was by far the craziest. We were whipped and bounced around and hanging on for dear life (in a fun way). I fell into the center of the boat and could not fight the G-force to sit back up. All I could do was hang on and laugh.

I will be writing a full recap of our weekend, but I couldn't wait to share the fun snow and ice activities we got to do. Here's what the rest of my week looked like:

Monday - Bodypump  and HIIT

I doubled up on the HIIT workouts. First I went to Bodypump (and did much better at picking upper body weights). After a quick run through the grocery and arranging for delivery, I walked to the fitness center for some hill repeats on the treadmill.

Tuesday - Yoga

Listen to my body day ---> 1) didn't sleep well 2) muscles sore from Bodypump so instead of going for a run as planned, I pulled out my yoga mat. After getting a thorough stretch session, I was feeling energized, so I took myself to the salon for a manicure.

Wednesday - Bodypump

Bump up weight day at Bodypump. It was a challenge and I couldn't complete every rep, but I hung in there pretty good. I was exhausted at the end of class but also felt very badazz!

Thursday - Run

I was really looking forward to this run since I didn't run on Tuesday. There was much to love and not love about this run, but the main thing is that I DID run.

Friday to Sunday - Travel

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

We picked up littleC at the Hong Kong International Airport on Monday evening. After only 4 hours of sleep, she was ready to take on Hong Kong the next morning. We headed to town to join the AWA group tour of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery.

Finding Buddhas in Hong Kong is not surprising, but seeing more than 10,000 in one place is quite impressive. To get to the monastery (this term is used lightly, as there are no actual monks living here), we had to walk a path known for monkeys hanging around (we didn't see any) and then climb about 430 steps completely lined on both sides with golden buddhas.

These buddhas all had very different facial expressions meant to demonstrate the various states of enlightenment.

The monastery was spread out over two levels. To get all the steps out of the way, we went right to the top level. We saw some of the most beautiful temples (there are five in total). I loved the colors in this one.

The different buddha statues continued. It was fun trying to figure out the significance of what they were holding.

The reclining buddha was a big hit. His toes were so big, I kept counting to make sure there were only ten.

The ivory white Kwun Yam statue riding a dragon was a stunning find in the farthest corner of the upper level. With a waterfall behind her, she seemed to be looking over the other buddhas and the village of Shatin far below.

On the main level of the monastery we found the nine story pagoda that is featured on some $100HKD bills. Rumor has it that you can climb up for great views, but it was closed when we were there.

On this level there were several pavilions, more and more buddhas and the main temple with more than 10,000 buddhas inside (no photos or video were allowed inside).

This place was just so interesting! We might have rushed a bit because winter temperatures have arrived in Hong Kong and we were really cold.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hiking: Lantau Trail Stages 11 & 12

The Lantau Trail in Hong Kong is 70 kilometers long and divided into 12 stages. I wish I was writing this post about my big finale after completing stages 11 and 12 with the AWA hiking group, but I missed a couple hikes and still have four stages to go.

Stage 11 starts at the catchwater off Tung Chung Road ---> the same catchwater from stage 10. Instead of traveling all the way to Mui Wo (from Discovery Bay) to meet the group coming from Central, I did a little research and took the chance that I could find the correct bus stop. It helped that I had mrC and a friend tagging along for moral support. We took the 3M bus and easily made it to Cheung Sha Catchwater.

Once the rest of group arrived, we followed the catchwater for about 3km with nothing more to see than concrete and trees lining the route. One member of our group lives in the area and told us how popular this section is for running because it is flat. The prettiest sight on this section was this waterfall with the mountains in the background.

After following the trail downhill for the last 1.5km, we reached the end of stage 11 and passed through the village of Pui O. This looked like an old village but we spotted some newer housing developments as we made our way to the start of stage 12.

Stage 12 was much more scenic right from the start. Coming out of the village we passed an inlet at low tide and spotted a little sign that Christmas is right around the corner.

We took a quick break at Pui O Beach. Unlike Discovery Bay which is surrounded by development, this beach felt like a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle. I would love to come back here and spend the day.

After leaving the beach, we began the hardest part of the hike ---> climbing approximately 260 meters up and over Tai Ngau Wu Teng. The higher we climbed, the better the views. It was amazing to look back and see the village of Pui O from above.

After passing the peak, we followed the trail down the mountain toward Mui Wo. Going up is tough on the quads, but going down is no fun on the knees.

Eventually we arrived at a perfectly placed pavilion to take a rest from all the down hill walking, enjoy the coastal views and get a great group shot (thanks to mrC).

We followed the last bit of trail right into Mui Wo. Glimpses of Silvermine Bay made our stomachs rumble knowing that lunch was coming soon.

Stages 11 and 12 took us just under 3.5 hours to hike the 11.75km. We always take our large groups to The Kitchen in Mui Wo for lunch. They treat us well, have great options on the menu for all and it doesn't take them long at all to serve us.

Now I just need to recruit some friends to complete stages 5-8 ;)

More posts from Lantau Trail hikes:

Hiking: Lantau Trail Stages 3 & 4 (Lantau Peak)

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Archery Lesson

I love when I get the chance to try something new. Just a month ago, I tried dragon boat paddling for the first time. Last week, I got to try my hand at archery through the American Women's Association. I signed up for the beginner's class being held at Golden Trust Archery in Lai Chi Kok and prepared to bring on my Katniss skills ---> just kidding. I only hoped my arrows actually made it to the target.

We met our instructor Anthony and the first thing we did was a little warm-up and stretching session for our arms, shoulders, and necks. After that, we put on arm guards and he walked us through the steps of how to hold, load the arrows and shoot from our recurve bows. We were given the beginner's short and sweet edition compared to the reminder list posted on the wall (thank goodness because that is a lot to remember!).

Since four people could shoot at a time, we took turns practicing for about 30 minutes. On each practice we had six arrows to shoot, just like in a competition ---> only later I would learn that my station actually had 7 arrows. I don't think any of us needed to be told that the goal was to aim for the middle of the target.

I really thought that it would be harder than it was, but I was pleasantly surprised that all of my shots made it to the target. As we practiced, Anthony would watch and give feedback to help us get better. Once I got the hang of lifting my elbow up, I did pretty good.

One of my best practice rounds

During a short break we were able to watch a young woman practicing on another course. She was twice as far away from her target as we were and she was hitting the center nearly every time. She was our inspiration!

After the break, Anthony explained how to keep score: Starting at the outer blue ring 6 points, red 7 points, 8 points, yellow 9 points, 10 points, and the center 10 points but scored as an X (this is used to break ties).

We had a little more practice and then it was time for a friendly competition: four rounds or 24 arrows and the highest score wins. This is when I learned that I had seven arrows and as a result had to give up my highest scoring arrow that round (a ten pointer, that luckily only changed my score by one point). At the end, I tied Maureen with most points, but she had more Xs to win! (oh to have that point back, haha!)

Even though we were using very light weight bows, this gave my upper body a good workout. We had a lot of fun and can totally see why archery is a popular sport.

Have you ever tried archery?