Living gluten-free in Hong Kong has been completely hit and miss and it is for this reason that I havn’t been able to provide heaps of tips and recipes for you all. I have lived mostly off supermarket sushi and strange renditions of things I cannot name from the school canteens. Thus, after 2 months there is nothing I miss more then my kitchen! Or, I’d take any kitchen really. All I have is a mostly broken portable hotplate and a microwave. Want any utensils? You have to supply your own and they will most likely be “borrowed”, permanently, like my last 2 umbrellas. So, in the interests of giving you all something to procrastinate with (and me something to procrastinate from studying as I just HAVE to write this) I figured I would detail some of what has become my weird and wacky home away from home.
So, what am I doing? I am studying abroad at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Why? Because I got the option and it seemed like an amazing experience I shouldn’t miss. Where is CUHK? In the middle of the jungle near Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, S.A.R. Quite literally – check out the photos of campus and imagine yourself strolling to class and BOOM! Monkey! Or going to get into a lift at night and there is a snake inside. All true stories and there are many more. Whilst this could happen anywhere, you know its accurately described as ‘jungle’ when your morning commute to class tends to look something like this:
I’ll give it to CUHK, it’s quite a beautiful campus. But building a campus on a huge hill when you know the HK climate wasn’t very kind. Hiking hundreds of stairs in 39 degrees and 90% humidity is anything but pretty. How are you supposed to make friends when you go to class looking like you have been swimming? Alas, I have found the key – you only ever hike DOWN (with an iced coffee in hand..) and take the free buses back up. You still get a little sheen (and a little exercise) but you are not visibly dripping. It’s only when you a) don’t have to be anywhere special, b) can jump straight in the shower or c) have a short way to go that you attempt to conquer sets of stairs the other way.
Just like campus, exploring Hong Kong has proved to be a very beautiful experience. Whether its looking over the high rise buildings of Hong Kong central or hiking along trails, the views have always been spectacular. Probably one of my favourites was the hiking trail to Tai Long Wan. Having heard from other CUHKers who had gone camping there the weekend before we figured it was well worth our time to make the journey and have a night camping on the beach. And believe me, it was.
Having had a less then seamless commute to the starting point we set off on foot for the hike alot later then expected, and a truthfully, a little grumpy. But when you hike for 5 minutes and are greeted with views like this, I don’t think anyone could stay ruffled for long:
The end result of the hike is that you get to a set of beaches where you can camp next to a 4 shack ‘town’ where you can rent tents from, by water (and beer) and get food. But be warned – don’t go during the lantern festival or I suppose any other main holiday – its busy – and when you get lost along the way and end up getting to the beach around 5pm, there will be NO tents left. Originally it doesn’t seem a problem as sleeping on the beach isn’t that bad and hey, you save a little money. But at 3am when the wind is blowing sand in your face and you are so cold you actually cannot sleep, you might start regretting not having a tent. Learn from my mistake, this is NOT fun. It’s only the guy who was so drunk he passed out that doesn’t seem to mind. Then again, not being able to sleep has benefits – mine being that I got to see the sunrise and set off hiking bright and early before the heat kicked in.
On your way in or out, stopping at the cliff jumping is a must. It is not far off the main trail and absolutely beautiful. If you go early you get to have it to yourself for a while too. It can be a little daunting jumping, take it from someone who is petrified of heights, but it is well worth it, just remember to point your toes before you hit the water.
All in all, a great trip to take, and well worth the effort. If you have a spare weekend, get yourself down there!
I won’t keep you any longer for now, but stay tuned for more of my Hong Kong adventures, tales and tips :)