8063.2 miles. 19 hours 20 mins. HONG KONG we here.
After what was an impulse decision followed by month-long anticipation, I touched down — in HONG KONG.
As the boarding gate swung open I was immediately greeted with warm, sweaty, smoldering hot arms. TLC. I’m talking about the weather of course, with that day peaking at 95°F. Admittedly, from there I only half-knew what to expect in the days to come. But luckily, as I raced into the city, SUNNY, a HK local I had been in contact with hit me back.
After a quick shower, we met up in JORDAN on the KOWLOON side to grab a bite and spend the day shooting.
In his clean multicolor flyknits, SUNNY and I walked south from Jordan down towards TSIM SHA TSUI. Amidst him telling me about his affinity for Iron Man and Benedict Cumberbatch, he suggested we go check out CAUSEWAY BAY, a district on the HK Island side known to be a hub of street fashion. Home to shops like NIKE LAB, Y3, CDG, and HK’s own JUICE. We hopped on the very next Star Ferry bound for WAN CHAI (the neighboring district to CWB.)
Around the corner but still above the crowds, we climbed up to a secret rooftop spot. Sadly, as fate had it, we ended up getting kicked out. But not before Sunny nabbed this for the gram! My chance would come later!
The heat then really began to wear me out.
After a long first day walking, shooting, sweating, more walking, drinking lemon ice tea, and a ton of the best sensory overloads, SUNNY and I kicked back before heading back. 16 stories above SHEUNG WAN.
Exhausted from the day before I slept well but not much. Heck, probably just a solid nap for the length of this whole trip for that matter (but when do I ever back home?) Honestly, I was just too damn excited. There was so much to be explored and I wasn’t tryna waste no time!
Making my way across the harbor to CENTRAL in the foggy wee hours, I figured I’d cross the touristy things off first, starting with none other than — you guessed it. THE PEAK.
I was told I was actually pretty lucky I got in the time that I did (48 hours ago). I remember SUNNY telling me it’s not too often that the combination of blue skies, white clouds, and the sun being out are all aligned — which is what the days had been thus far. I even dodged the monsoon that hit the week prior. But on this day? No luck. The skies were grey and rain poured heavily on and off, throwing a real curve ball at me. Guess Mondays are the same everywhere.
Right off the MTR Island line is NORTH POINT. Perhaps it was early in the day or maybe cause of the weather, but North Point felt oddly different. I couldn’t put my finger on it right away but what struck me was how quiet it was. There was no one calling for your attention, no one having conversations on the streets. Aside from the rain-muffled sounds of cars gently streaming by there were no other sounds.
This was also the first and only time in my life when I’ve been profusely sweating whilst being showered on.
Vast blues, moody grays, and lush greens were the colors that flooded the windows of bus as it made the narrow twists up the mountainside. The sounds of an English guide video also filled the bus but I was already plugged into my own tunes. I tend to like to do that when going somewhere. It helps me create my own little space to zone out in — which is what everyone else seemed to be doing anyways.
We were bound for LANTAU ISLAND, PO LIN MONASTERTY specifically, about 20 miles off the coast of HK Island. For perspective, that’s like from Yankee Stadium to Coney Island (but across water.) Before we knew it we had lost phone service, and when it did return the bus had already stopped. My phone read “Free T-Mobile Msg: Welcome to China.”
It’s a total 268 steps to the top.
At high noon the sun beats directly down with nowhere to hide but under the Buddha himself. I presume that that was intended — representative of the path to salvation for those who came seeking it. I’ve been on record before saying that I’m not Buddhist nor am I a religious person but goddamn (pun?). The experience of it really makes you appreciate it and the journey tenfolds. And while there were some individuals with their palms clasp tightly together, what was universal was the warm breeze and sense of inner peace.
A few days prior I had contacted seasoned HK rooftop-er DAVID. After a few not so lewd DMs, him and I met later that evening along his friends GRACE and SARAH back over on HK Island. Shit was about to get lit.
DAVID has the rooftop game down to a science. He knows the spots, the alarms, and the security. All of which he made a strict point about not disclosing so sorry fam. What I can say is shut up, move fast, and don’t be afraid of heights.
For as long as I actually can’t remember, I’ve been paralyzed by heights. I’ve got it scripted. When people ask I say — “looking down at the food court from the average third floor mall makes me uneasy.” Needless to say everyone had that “uhh…” look on their faces as to why I even signed up for this when I mentioned it.
But here I was. Not 3 but 30 stories up. Not by escalator but via rusty ladder. I was type shook just climbing the stairs leading to the roof let alone being on it. What was I thinking?! For one thing, I’ve got a foreign ID and no health insurance, had something happened I would’ve been certified fucked! The “fuuucked” kind too. But I did it. And again. And again. We did three places that night and somehow I managed.
I didn’t know anything other than how to climb stairs, ladders, and not look obvious. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to do it despite it being way out of my comfort zone. I found that in those cases sometimes that’s all you really need, someone to tell you “Yo you comin’ up? You next.” And that’s when you say yea, throw them your bag, and fucking go. You guys can get tong sui afterwards to ease the nerves.