Satur-trail and Dragon Boats

I am definitely not an athlete, nor a trail runner, but I do prefer to spend my weekends with some activities rather than lying half dead in a dark room, cursing the world and trying to remember what happened the previous night. Having the chance to take a nice hike and then trying out dragon boat racing, of course I said yes. Well, I have to admit that half way through the 10km hike, and halfway up the over 1000 stair, I definitely questioned myself.

Up and down these mountains, no biggie
Up and down these mountains, no biggie

Our trail started from Wan Chai gap, sweet and easy 1km uphill, followed by a nice 4km run to the end of the first leg. That’s when the fun part started – first  up was the Violet Hill mountain, followed by the “Twins”, pictured. The mountain part of the hike included some stunning views of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay (with some clear blue water), but I was mostly concentrating on putting my feet in front of another and not to trip.

Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir
Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir

It made a big difference to be on the trail with a couple of hard core athletes, one of which just did a sweet 86km run in mt. Fuji last week. By myself, I would have had much harder time to keep on going and not stop in the steps – although when you start going, there is no escape.

 

Warm up before the Dragon Boat
Dragon Boaters warming up

After the trail, we made it to Stanley just in time for some coconut water and Dragon Boat training! Some balance for the leg workout, this 2 hr session was great exercise for the arms and upper body (though the legs weren’t lazy, either). The boats fit 20 paddlers (our team had only 10; more work for each person!), plus one person who is steering, and another that pounds a drum to give tact. Key words in this sport are “rotate”, meaning you have to twist your upper body when thrusting the paddle to the water, and “reach”, meaning that you mush reach the paddle far in front of you. I bet I’ll be hearing the coach screaming these two words when I go to sleep.

Ready to roll
Ready to roll

 

On June 12th there is a big Dragon Boat race, where different companies, societies etc. that have formed teams race against each other and have a huge party afterwards. Too bad I’m not going to be able to attend, although maybe this kind of adventuring on a weekly basis would be a bit too much for me. I really liked being in the water, I can’t remember when is the last time I’ve had salt water on my lips and skin! Unfortunately there was no sun anywhere to be seen the whole day (except in the far distance in the mountain), but somehow I still managed to burn my cheeks.

Happy and not knowing what lies ahead
Happy and not knowing what lies ahead

 

These little Saturday morning and afternoon activities made me appreciate the trail/ultra runners even more; the more athletes I meet, the better I understand them and their motives. However, I still prefer intervals to 50km, and pilates to running. To balance out the “hard work” of the day, I rewarded myself with yoga and sauna.

If you are interested in hiking/trekking in Hong Kong, hkwalkers.net is the go-to source. It still amazes me, how much nature and outdoor sports possibilities this place has to offer!

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Secret paradises

Some more traditional Japan!

Fields like in the middle of Europe

Rough bare stone terrain, traditional bamboo forest, pine tree forest, fields and various different vegetation was passed during a hike to the secret onsen. After hiking in the sun for almost an hour, the reward was tremendous.

 

Steaming hot mineral water

 

Beppu is known for its’ hot springs, onsen. There are several onsens around the city, most of which are spa-like and run by entrepreneurs. My first onsen experience here was different – these onsens were in the mountains, completely in the natural state, and free of charge.

We decided to pretend we don’t understand the several warning signs

A girl was killed in the onsen where we went a year ago, thus there was several sign warning about going to the onsens a)alone, b)with only women and c)during night time. In addition to that, there was another sign regarding proper code of conduct.

 

Beware of suspicious man and car!

 

After the first two onsens (one pictured above, plus a mud onsen next to it) we continued to a third one even higher up the mountain. The last onsen we went to was apparently rather popular among Japanese men, so as to respect their privacy (and private parts), I don’t have many pictures.

Steaming hot water, next to streaming cold water

The onsens would be perfect during night time, to watch the stars. Also in the winter I can imagine that sitting in the hot bath would be spectacular – getting out would not be so pleasant. The road to the onsens was very poor, so in the winter time it might be tricky to drive there by car. Walking in the dark would definitely not be an option, either. We had a chance to boil some eggs in a hole that had boiling water – next time we were thinking about having a picnic with more food to boil and steam. What a better way to spend a day, than hiking, and then chilling in the hot bath and eating food prepared in the nature.

 

Nature at its’ best