Hong Kong (CNN) — Surrounded by pictures, maps and different paperwork, 45-year-old photographer Simon Wan Chi-Chung is planning his subsequent nice Hong Kong journey.
This is not any weekend getaway. He’s going to climb each peak in Hong Kong — in a single journey.
It will not be his first attempt, both. He’s made the try a number of occasions during the last 20 years.
There is not a single, definitive listing stating the precise variety of peaks in Hong Kong. So Wan has drafted his personal route primarily based on varied sources in addition to his personal analysis of official Hong Kong topography maps.
But his situation did not enhance, the added days of mountaineering and tenting solely exacerbating the ache in his ankle.
“I was young and arrogant, wanting to prove that I could do everything and ended up hurting myself,” Wan tells CNN Travel.
Simon Wan Chi-Chung, artist and photographer, is now planning his subsequent nice Hong Kong journey.
But an encounter with a fellow hiker — an older man he met earlier that morning — gave him a brand new perspective. As the 2 acquaintances made it to the height, they noticed the rolling hills in entrance of them.
“This ‘Day 9 uncle’ gasped when he heard about my mission to climb all of Hong Kong’s peaks,” recollects Wan.
“He gave me his slice of bread and said, ‘young man, you’re going to need this more than I do.’ He grabbed an orange from his bag and repeated, ‘You need this more.’ It was such a simple gesture. But I stopped feeling pity for myself. I let go of my arrogance and felt humbled by the mountains.”
With a heavy coronary heart and a swollen ankle, he determined to press pause on the journey. Wan went residence to nurse his foot for 3 weeks, then completed climbing the remainder of the 148 peaks on his listing a couple of weeks later.
It was considered one of his most memorable encounters and one of many causes he is dedicated to Hong Kong’s pure world.
“On the hills, people are more likely to talk and connect,” says Wan.
“You won’t have that experience in the city. Nature makes people feel comfortable and secure.”
‘Hong Kong is a metropolis hidden inside wilderness’
Wan prefers to work with movie. He used a panorama digicam for his expedition in 2003.
Simon Wan Chi-Chung
In addition to its 148 hills, Hong Kong can also be residence to greater than 100 island clusters made up of over 250 particular person islands. Wan claims to be one of many few individuals to have visited each considered one of them, saying he is at all times wished to grow to be an adventurer.
Having spent years finding out within the UK, Wan realized he did not know Hong Kong’s panorama very effectively.
An concept hit him: “Why not explore every single hill in my own backyard? And why not do that in one go?”
Carrying a bivvy bag and a movie digicam, Wan launched into a collection of “expeditions.” Ten years after his first trek by way of Hong Kong’s mountains in 2003, he repeated the journey in 2013.
Rather than arrange a tent, Wan slept in a bivvy bag throughout his quests to go to all of Hong Kong’s peaks.
Simon Wan Chi-Chung
But this time, he was below a tighter schedule so he opted to solely sort out the peaks that had been at the least 300 meters tall.
Trekking 26 to 30 kilometers, or 11 to 12 hours, per day, he reached 134 peaks in 19 days, tenting in several components of Hong Kong alongside the way in which.
He titled the works from these journeys “Post Urbanisation.”
Then, in 2015, he voyaged to 107 uninhabited island clusters, touring by canoe, in 11 days. “These were ‘hills’ I hadn’t climbed as well,” he says.
“These days, you know about the place before getting on a plane — you’ve booked a hotel, seen photos online, or even know what restaurants to book before leaving your home. In these journeys, I’ve been to places I’d never heard of and villages I’d never seen. You wouldn’t find much information about some places online.
“It seems, I needn’t go to Mount Everest or a international nation to search out that pleasure and happiness of explorations and adventures.”
“On the hills, individuals are extra prone to speak and join,” says Wan.
Simon Wan Chi-Chung
Mountain and island names unfamiliar to most Hong Kongers roll off Wan’s tongue as he retells anecdotes from his trips.
He says he learned the history of Ap Chau, a rugged island in the northeastern part of Hong Kong, during an impromptu tour from a persistent retired villager who found Wan sleeping at the pier one morning.
He visited the memorial plate for Quentin Roosevelt II, Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson, on Basalt Island, where Roosevelt was killed in a plane crash in 1948. It’s a part of the city’s history not written in many textbooks.
“It could also be an previous adage, however Hong Kong’s nature is exclusive for its comfort,” says Wan. “No matter the place you might be, there’s at all times a hill behind you. You do not must plan something or ask for a time without work. You can simply go at lunch.
“People say there is great wilderness within Hong Kong. I say it is the other way around — Hong Kong is a city hidden within the wilderness.”
Wan has loads of recommendation for these wanting to begin exploring Hong Kong’s wild areas as effectively.
“Whether you’re a waterfall climber or a leisure walker, there is a route for you,” he says enthusiastically. “Most of the hiking trails are well-paved with signs and facilities along the way — so it really is for everyone.”
A stone’s throw away from the favored Victoria Peak (or The Peak), it gives a fast style of Hong Kong’s pure magnificence however is true subsequent to a vibrant enterprise middle.
Mount High West is simply a stone’s throw from well-liked vacationer vacation spot The Peak.
Simon Wan Chi-Chung
Meanwhile, Lion Rock Hill, on Hong Kong’s Kowloon aspect, offers “an unbeatable view of Kowloon,” with trails appropriate for each kind of hiker.
Nature as an emotional platform
Capturing the fantastic thing about Hong Kong’s pure aspect is greater than only a picture task for Wan. It’s an outlet for him to precise his feelings as effectively.
While going by way of a painful divorce in 2011, he says he hiked up a special mountain every day he could not see his then two-year-old son.
“I’d take a photo towards the direction of where he was,” says Wan. “Maybe he’d happen to look my way at that moment. Then, we’d be looking at each other. I’ve one copy of the journey at the Heritage Museum and I’ve one copy here for my son, so he’d know that I never gave up on him.”
On his 2013 hike round Hong Kong, in addition to his island-hopping journey in 2015, he used a Holga — a made-in-Hong Kong movie digicam with restricted performance.
Wan used a Hong Kong-designed Holga digicam on a few of his journeys.
Simon Wan Chi-Chung
“I knew before my trips that the Holga camera wouldn’t be able to yield ideal results,” Wan explains.
“But I wanted to use the camera as a metaphor for myself. I’d persevere and I wouldn’t change as an artist. At the same time, I acknowledge that the environment is something I couldn’t control so I had to let go.”
Wan’s subsequent Hong Kong hill expedition will occur this summer time.
“I hate Hong Kong’s summer — it’s humid and hot and festered with typhoons. But I want to make the journey as challenging and memorable as possible so I’ll remember deeply how unique Hong Kong’s summer is,” says Wan.
“Some people get wasted when they need to release their emotions. I go into the mountains during my ups and downs. I think there is no difference. I love my home — I love this land. That’s why I am so devoted to this project. I think I will spend my lifetime doing this if I can.”