By Jennifer & Steve
Our first two visits to Hong Kong were primarily stopovers in transit to/from Nepal. After these two very different experiences we are able to conclude at least one thing: we will probably never be big city people. It’s a city/province/quasi-country with too many bodies, too many vehicles, too much noise, too many buildings, and too many malls for our taste…but as it turns out you can still find some camping!
Experience #1: Nov. 12 – 13, 2015
The one great thing about our first experience in Hong Kong would have to be the straight-forwardness and simplicity of going through customs. Possibly our easiest and least stressful border crossing yet, not a bad thing. We found the transportation system amazingly efficient, and the people are mostly bilingual and ready to go out of their way to help. So that is on the positive side for Hong Kong. On the negative side would be: getting lost in two malls and not being able to figure out how to get out, $8CND ($40HKD) coffees, small, claustrophobia-inducing rooms at the infamous Chunking Mansion, shopping stores everywhere. Too much city and too expensive for two travelers accustomed to the low low cost of travelling mainland Asia.
Experience #2: Dec. 11 – 12, 2015
This Hong Kong experience was completely different from the first, and so this part of the post will be a lot less whiney. As before, our visit was a 1-day layover. This time we were on our way back from Nepal; Steve was heading home to surprise his family for Christmas, and Jenn was heading to mainland China to visit with her mom. Our prior experience in the big city (Tsim Sha Tsui area) of Hong Kong with too many malls, people, and hustle-bustle for comfort (not to mention the expensive room that was sooo tiny..see the pictures above) had us looking for something more our style. We decided to try and get away with “roughing it” this time around. It was a bit nerve-wracking because there is basically no information about camping in Hong Kong online, though we were able to find out that it is technically illegal. We’re glad we decided to risk it, the camping trip in Hong Kong turned out to be a wonderful success.
We first checked our heavy packs into lockers at the airport, as we weren’t sure how far we would have to trek to find an isolated spot. We then hopped on a bus to the nearest stop – Tung Chung, on Lantau Island, just next to the airport (a $2 USD ride versus the $18USD metro ride to get to the main city). We grabbed a quick lunch and “take away” supper at a food court by the bus stop (once again, we seemed to be unable to avoid shopping malls), and then started walking in the direction of trees, roughly southwest.
We were thinking we would have to hike up to 10km into the hills to find a suitable, isolated camp spot, but after crossing a couple roads we reached the edge of an undeveloped hill with a small dirt path leading up the side. Just 10 minutes up the hill we found a perfect spot: flat, isolated, near to the airport to get back early the next morning. It also had a great view of the airport, ocean, and surrounding mountains/city. Camping in Hong Kong turned out to be much easier than expected – pretty awesome! We spent the rest of the day pretty chilled out – hiking, taking a nap on the beach, and enjoying our Subway sandwich dinners while watching the flow of aircraft in and out of one of the biggest airports on the planet. And so, Hong Kong has somewhat redeemed itself, and we even have a camping spot waiting for us next time we have a layover!
If you have any other suggested places to bootleg camp in Hong Kong, let us know!