Cast your mind back six months and recall when Hong Kong was in fully-fledged Covid lockdown mode. Bars and restaurants were either closed or on reduced hours, gyms, my football league, sports grounds and clubs alike were closed. We couldn’t go to beaches and it felt like you had to wear a mask even when you slept just to be on the right side of the law. With all of this stress I needed a release and with so many of my usual options banned or closed, there were not many alternatives left.
I moved from London to Hong Kong in January 2019 with my sights on a new life in this wonderful place. For the first year I moved around quite a lot, living in Mid-levels, Tai Hang, Causeway Bay, HKU, Wan Chai and now Sai Ying Pun whilst working in Quarry Bay. In this time I had seen what life was like in many different parts of HK Island but soon realised there was much more to HK than just a few kilometers.
One day whilst in the office, my company (JLL) released a Covid motivational fitness challenge to staff. It consisted of walking or running as far as you could each day for 40 days. We were put into teams automatically and were able to track progress using an app. I thought to myself “what a perfect opportunity to get outside and discover some hidden parts to HK and get some fitness at the same time”.
After the first week I was hooked, walking home from work in a full suit just to add 5km to my total, as I watched the league table grow. Then I started going out in the evenings doing around 10km’s at a time. I was able to see the incredible pace at which this city flows and reduce it down to walking speed.
Then I started to want to walk on my weekends too and with no football to play, it was the perfect substitute. However those 5 and 10km’s just weren’t cutting it and I started to think of bigger challenges. I decided I wanted to walk the length of HK Island by using the MTR Island (Blue) Line as a guide. I set off from Chai Wan and walked to Kennedy Town trying to keep as close to the waterfront as reasonably possible. At the time I was living in Wan Chai, so when I made it to Kennedy Town I decided I may as well walk back again and I totalled around 30km’s by the time I’d finished.
Curiosity started to get the better of me. I wanted more, and for quite some time (usually when I looked at HK on Google maps) I wondered if it was possible for a human being to walk the whole way around HK Island in a day. Once the idea was in my head I couldn’t scare it away and decided that I would attempt it on the next weekend.
On that dreaded Saturday morning my alarm sounded at a not-so-early 9am and I reluctantly arose to begin my preparations for the day ahead. In anticipation of receiving an unprecedented amount of blisters, I prepped my feet with plasters making my soles look more like a patch work quilt.
As soon as I was ready I set off from my home in Sai Ying Pun and headed straight for the coast line. I headed anit-clockwise around the island with my main rule of thumb being that I must stay as close to the sea as reasonably possible.
I walked through the intense midday sun and documented my story every 10km’s on Instagram and Facebook to show my friends and family what I was doing. Eventually after 13 and a half long hours I made it all the way back round to Sai Ying Pun.
I gained a lot of great feedback from lots of the people that watched my video and it inspired me to do it again, only this time it needed to be in a different location.
From this moment on I knew that I had opened pandora’s box and I was about to set myself the biggest physical challenge of my life. I’d realised that there were so many parts to Hong Kong that I’d never seen or been to and I would probably never go to these places unless I had a specific reason.
So, I looked at the map once more, this time in more detail. I estimated that there would be around 20 hikes at 50km’s, if I walked them in a full circle, to conquer HK. This included the New Territories, Sai Kung Country Parks, Kowloon, Lantau and everywhere that is classed as Hong Kong.
It opened a door of opportunities and I decided to go for it by walking a different Hectic Hike (as I call them) bi-weekly. This allows sufficient healing time to my sorry feet and toes and enables me some much-needed rest in between.
This challenge is set to last around one year and after several discussions with friends, family and colleagues I decided to raise money for an incredible charity here in Hong Kong. This amazing place has given so much to me that it felt very humbling to be able to give something back.
I am raising money for Habitat for Humanity which is a fantastic charity with the change that they bring to so many lives to people from all different backgrounds, is fantastic. This challenge is taking me to many new heights and corners of Hong Kong, and many of these paths take me through the communities that really need this support. I hope that my videos can put a smile on some of their faces as they watch me climb, sweat and struggle my way across the city.
My friend said “it was hard not to make a donation” when hearing that it was in support of Habitat for Humanity and my football team, the HK Scottish Eagles, were really pleased when I informed them where the money would be going. I quite literally got a pat on the back from a teammate.
So far we have only raised a quarter of the amount needed to really make a difference to some of these children’s lives and I really need your support to get to the final target.
If you would like to make a donation, no matter how large or small, please do by visiting my Charitable Choice page: https://www.charitablechoice.org.hk/en/campaigns/b9a0b0
I have just completed Hectic Hike No.10 bringing my total to over 500km’s at the halfway mark. Please support me for the second half if you can and let’s hit this monstrous total together one step at a time.
Walk the walk, don’t talk the talk.