Describe the path to a favorite place of yours to walk in 2012. What’s meaningful about the place or the journey?
Have I mentioned I love walking? I dislike standing still, so I will choose to walk over waiting for a bus or a taxi.
Quite unusually for Hong Kong, I actually have to walk on the street to get to work. Most people I know have an MTR exit that serendipitously comes up right near their workplace. Because I live right on top of an MTR station, the husband, for example, pretty much has to take two elevators down, ride the MTR, and then take a couple of escalators up into this work building. This might strike some people as terrible, but in a place where rain is perennial and there is a typhoon season, it can be pretty darn useful. Especially if you’re grocery shopping with a baby in a buggy, like my helper has to do, for example. Or you’re allergic to the sun, like my husband. (I am not joking. I used to poke fun at him, but this year, he was officially diagnosed as suffering from migraines, so that might explain is sun aversion.)
Anyway, I am not the only one who finds the arrangement of actually (gasp!) walking on the street to work for a little over 10 minutes unusual. Now and then someone will suggest a shuttle bus, and be promptly ignored. When we moved to the new building, there was a minibus from the MTR to that building and I happily availed of it.
However, I have gone back to walking, partly because the wait for the minibus can get long, but also because I realised that I need the exercise. I have resolved to not only walk that route to and from work but also to and from lunch. Since I cannot find the motivation to exercise after work, at least these 15 minute spurts will count for something.
Now, let me describe the walk. I emerge from the MTR station – one of the smaller ones – into a lower income area, primarily comprising public housing. There are a lot of elderly people and more than the normal share of disabled people around. In this MTR, for example, there is a gang of old women who wait outside the turnstile for people to give them the free newspapers that are distributed in the MTR. They collect these to sell to recyclers. One of these ladies is so bent over, she’s almost always looking at the floor. At some point, an old man joined the gang and I suspect he gets more than his fair share of papers just by virtue of gender difference. I also often see this guy in a motorized wheelchair who is pretty speedy on the sidewalk and even has a passenger standing behind him.
The stretch of the street outside the MTR is pretty busy. There’s a new bakery that’s become a popular alternative to McDonald’s just next door for grabbing breakfast. A lot of office workers buy their brekkie on their way to work and consume it at their desk, I assume because they are up so late at night (most lights are on in our building around 2 am) that they’d rather save the time they would have spent eating at home for sleeping.
It’s an uphill trudge up this road, past a mall of course, which famously raised the rent forcing the old mom-n-pop stores to give way to chain stores priced, according to me, too expensively for the neighbourhood. There is a flight of stairs to climb up to the main street, last year with broken steps that could be super slippy in the rain, completely unacceptable considering the older population that uses them. This is a good walk to do to get a sense of Hong Kong that is less prosperous and more down-to-earth, if you will.
I come up onto a main road, which borders a park. This part of the walk is really pleasant because there are trees overhanging the road and it’s fairly quiet, except for the chirping of birds and there are some really unusual (to me) species flitting about. In the park, there are always elderly people doing tai chi and kung fu to music with fans and swords. It’s pretty awesome.
It takes about 10 minutes to hit the university. If I am lucky, the bell in the clock tower will be tolling. I used to work in the first building, but now I have to walk through a promenade to get to the new building. On the way, I pass a sports ground which is usually empty at that point. Five minutes later, and one elevator ride up, I’m in office.
How do you get to work?