My boyfriend and I were on our first trip together to Asia, and it was a tremendous experience at all levels. We have seen some of the most beautiful places on earth (the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Beach in Thailand and our extra-tranquil villa with private pool in Renaissance Koi Samui hotel) and ate some of the best food (many different cuisines in China, Champaign sea food brunch at Sheraton Hong Kong and fresh seafood cooked on the beach at Koh Samui Thailand), also had our fare share of arguments, tensions, tears and reconciliations. This trip has been a test of our relationship. HongKong was our last stop of a nearly 3-week vacation. And on our last day in HongKong, we went to the Peak. I had been there before in 2006, and I was alone, a single traveler just like I had always been for the past 10+ years. I thought it was very impressive considering the view and the journey of being on the tram climbing up the steep mountain. The panorama view of HongKong at the top was breath-taking as the city is such a bustling metropolitan surrounded by the ocean and mountains. However, I never imagined what a different journey it would become this time with someone else, someone whom I now share my life with. What he showed me was a different way to travel and enjoy the best possible adventure.
At the bottom of the tram, he decided not to buy the join-ticket to go up to the viewing platform instead he proposed to go off on our own once at the tram terminal to see if we can get a better view from the top without paying. I thought, here we go again, he wanted to be different and he is pushing to get the best of all, when sometimes perfection is not realistic and it risks of failing and not meeting the expectations. On top of that, we were hoping to catch the sun-set view of the city before it got dark. That was that additional layer of time pressure. The stake seemed high as it was our concluding night of our nearly 3-week trip. But considering what we had fight about a few days ago and how big of the fight it was. I decided to let him run with his desire, instead of controlling him and limiting the possibilities. Following his instinct, we immediately stepped on a quiet path, away from all tourists, where it seemed more like a secluded residential area with nice houses, and a community park. It was hard to imagine that there is such a beautiful residential area at this height. He was proactive and asked a couple who looked like someone living there. They were on their way to walk their dog. Their direction confirmed his instinct that it is a lot better up there, away from all the tourists by simply following the path up the mountain. It was already past 6pm and the sun will set around 7pm. We have about one hour to find the best spot. I was more assured that we were on the right path and so did he. It was a beautiful time of the day, specially at that level. We knew we were in a mountain by looking at all the mist raising above all the trees. It was as if we were on our path to find a Daoism temple, a fairy sense of serenity. That feeling calmed my anxiety and tamed my slight sense of displease of him not taking the easy way out (viewing platform). It was so quiet and just two of us, wandering along the “secret Daoism path” in the mountain. Soon we run into a runner who again looked like someone living up there in the mountain. He was really helpful and told us where to turn right and how to find the best viewing spot. According to him, we will need to go all the way to the very top of the mountain, where we won’t see much due to the heavy fog (moist) at that level. However, once we reach there we will find another path on the other side of the mountain to go down. From there, we would run into a circular path and we will get the 360 degree view of Hong Kong by walking around that circular path. At the end that path we would be able to go back to the Tram station. All the sudden, our plan became perfect, but we only had half an hour left before the sunset. We speed up our climb and we were sweaty albeit the cool mist around us. We followed the runner’s instruction and reached the very top of the mountain. It was a proud moment to think about we were at the very top, way above the viewing platform and away from the crowd. There were very heavy mist and it made me feel we were in a fairy dream world. I just loved that feeling that I am away from all the hustle and bustle and entered into the ultimate tranquility. In fact, he does know what I really like and what makes me happy, although my nature of taking shortest cut and being safe prohibits me from taking the risk to enjoy the best.
An old Hongkongese couple who were apparently lived in some nice house up in the mountain was on their after-dinner walk. We confirmed again with them on where the path was to go down to the circular road (Governor Rd. if I remember correctly). The lady basically walked to that path with us. We were on our way to get the best 360 degree of this amazing city. My boyfriend was running ahead of me as he was the one taking the sun set pictures. When we were there, we could not believe how amazing the views were. There were so many excellent viewing points along the circular path. We took some truly post-card level pictures. We stopped along the way to take it all in, the beautiful sunset sky above the bay, those ships, the skyscrapers, the moment when the city lights gradually came on in those high-rises. There were quite a few “professional” looking photographers had their tri-pot set up and ready to capture the best moment of the day. We felt we were truly the “insider” and saw the best of it. It was particularly interesting to see the city from above at different angles, which would not be very possible from the viewing platform. We were really happy because we succeeded in our little adventure, away from the “norm” and found our own way to reach the top and got the best of it all. It was a picture perfect moment for the final night of our trip.
What made it an icing on the cake was in the taxi on our way back to the hotel. The taxi-driver told us the history of the city, and the fact that all the major roads in HongKong island were not there 50 years ago as they were not even land. We were shocked to be told that majority of the island was reclaimed by using the rock from the mountain when people were building houses on the mountain. I just loved those anecdotal stories. For me, best part of the travel is to go local and see, feel, do what locals do and hear what locals say about their city, and of course eat what locals eat. That was exactly what we did after we got dropped off from the taxi. We went to a typical Hong Kong diner and sat with all the locals to enjoy a simple HongKongese dinner.
After spending almost 20 days together 7/24, we understood each other a lot more, even thought we thought we did knew what the other is like after living together for almost a year (but never before spending almost 480 hours together continuously). The important things we learned in this trip were to 1) accept the other completely which means the good and the “ugly”, and to appreciate each other more; 2) be more tolerant; 3) be more open-minded (giving the other benefit of the doubt). A few weeks after the trip, we went to see the movie “Kids are all right”. I cried during the movie (I never cried while watching movies before) as I now felt so much of what depicted in the movie was true. Yes relationship can be trying, but it also can be something beautiful and hugely rewarding if two people truly love, understand, accept and appreciate each other. We both learned that first hand from this summer trip.
This was truly lovely to read. The section about spending 20 days together and thinking you already knew everything but finding out the things that you can only possibly know after 480 straighthurs is an expierence that may even happen again. Thanks for taking me down memory lane and reminding me of what it means to be a good spouse and the things we learn together through travel.