Hong Kong is a gentle assault on the eyes. Lines crisscrossing into a log-jam of pick-up-sticks. Each corner calls out for your attention in pulsating chases of rainbow color, stacked into every free crevasse, every inch of real estate maximized because of its rareness. The cumulative effect is a solid. Like an Aurora Borealis that is meditative in the repetition of its brilliance.
Skyscrapers surpass the sky and their mass is bullied up from behind. Everything is fighting to get to the water and bleeding into the last available spaces along the way. The city is literally building out over the sea. The rush to the shore is so aggressive that the objective is forgotten and eating the resource. Eventually the once distant shores will meet and they will forget why they came. The water will be forgotten.
The sidewalks are an unintuitive spreadsheet of ones and zeroes. With another combat of lines, people haphazardly, perpetually bound into one another. If they were as strong as ants, they would reach for the skies like the buildings do. Collisions occur and are forgotten.
This time of year is like winter on the sun. Habitable, but just barely. Not only does the light sear my skin, but the wet air tries to melt me into the ocean. My time here is limited and I want to see the nature and I hike most days that I can.
Part of the adventure is surviving the heat.
The views from up high are like fantasies of an oriental coast. The organic geography is much more organized than the city streets made by people. Nature has thought through this plan more than the humans have. I find a hidden cave through some dense jungle and in it is a secret beach. A constant breeze and the shade from impenetrable rock make it a miracle relief so complete, it’s like the hand of God. I spend an afternoon here meditating and stacking pebbles. The intense white light of the sky beyond the ocean, stitches an ombre into the black stones that make up the shoreline. Complete white to complete black. The narrow slit at the far end of the cave perfectly frames the nearest island like a reference on a treasure map.
Just outside is an oceanographic research facility that was made for a Wes Anderson movie. It is the highest point on this beach and seemingly made up at odd angles of plaster boxes stitched together with glue and duct tape. Some windows are unfinished and still written as placeholder text on an architect’s blueprint. In front, facing the ocean, is a life-sized replica of a whale’s skeleton ready to dive back in.
It seems uninhabited if it weren’t for the car in the driveway. After I spend an hour climbing the steep and blazing rock configurations of the peninsula (where I find a single, perfect, Jade Green crab), I return past the building and three men are standing outside, surveying the ocean. They are each wearing the same baby-blue shirt with the same Chinese characters on the back. Each is wearing the same hat and each is standing under a matching umbrella.
On my walk back, the pack of dogs that came after me on the going are now unimpressed and stay shade-bathing and let me pass. The wild confetti of butterflies make the forest thick with a color pattern that is a whisper of the city. I ride the double-decker icebox bus back on the top floor as the perpetual wetness of my shirt freezes to my back.