Monday, September 3, 2012

Running in Hong Kong: Kowloon waterfronts

Right after coming back from Mexico City, I jumped on another long flight and stayed for 4 days and half in Hong Kong last week and was only able to run twice, so I don't pretend to have explored all what this special Chinese city offers to runners. See in particular these articles or websites for more ideas:'s Where To Run, the Hong Kong Park & Recreation website, CNN's Best 5 Hong Kong Running Routes.

From what I could read and experience, I'd say you'd better stay on the Hong Kong Island if you are a trail and long distance runner, in order to reach the Southern part of the island and its hills. Unfortunately, the client site I was working at was on the Kowloon peninsula, so I picked a nearby hotel, right in the middle of the busy district of Mong Kok. From there, I decided to run South, toward the sea, along Nathan Road. You will pass the Kowloon Park which is a great oasis in the city but has little interest for serious runners (many convoluted trails and stairs and busy alleys). At the end of Nathan Road, you will find an underpass to reach the waterfront and the famous Avenue of the Stars in particular, a 440-meter promenade, about one track lap. The Avenue of the Stars will get you on the East side and you can keep running on a much longer section for up to 2 miles, the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. On the west side, you can pass the piers and, after about 1.5 miles, reach the nice West Kowloon Waterfront promenade and park with great views on the channel and the Hong Kong Island. The promenade is 1-mile long which isn't very long yet a peaceful and green area aside from the busy streets and vertiginous skyscrapers. Here is a trace of my run, kind of an anchor shape:
Running in temperatures above 90F and a 60% humidity, I was literally drenched after just 15 minutes. My shoes were soaked and, based on the hotel room scale, I lost more than 6 pounds of water despite carrying a water bottle for this 13-mile tour of Kowloon. Needless to say, I was glad to be back in the Bay Area on Friday for much better running conditions. I know, this is an opportunity to think of all of you who run in such conditions throughout the Summer, on the East Coast in particular...
In my run I passed by the Granville Road, which will please my Mom's family which originates from Greanville in Normandy, France (thanks to Wikipedia, we can learn that this Road was named in 1896 after a British Secretary of the State, for the Colonies).
If you have more time, here are 60 or so pictures which will give you an idea of the city's architecture (sorry, you'll miss the smell of the Chinese market as well as the high heat and humidity, it's not virtual reality yet... ;-). Plus two videos: one with some sort of T'ai Chi on Christian music, and a panorama of the Hong Kong Island from Kowloon. (click on the links to be redirected to YouTube).

Overall, a fascinating city with a blend of international and Chinese cultures. I hope China will evolve toward more freedom so Hong Kong doesn't have to give the one the British left as a legacy here once the 50-year

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