Meet the man who’s climbed every peak and visited every island in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong (CNN) — Surrounded by pictures, maps and different paperwork, 45-year-old photographer Simon Wan Chi-Chung is planning his subsequent nice Hong Kong journey.

This is not any weekend getaway. He’s going to climb every peak in Hong Kong — in one journey.

It will not be his first strive, both. He’s made the try a number of occasions over the final 20 years.

There is not a single, definitive listing stating the precise variety of peaks in Hong Kong. So Wan has drafted his personal route primarily based on varied sources in addition to his personal analysis of official Hong Kong topography maps.

Unofficial sources declare there are between 121 and 161 peaks above 300 meters, stretched over a dozen teams of hill ranges. By Wan’s rely, there are 148 hills to summit.
He set out on his first try to visit them all in 2003. But on the ninth day, he was atop the 522-meter-tall Needle Hill combating by a sprained ankle — an damage he sustained on the second day — and known as his buddy, a medical physician, to come back and deal with him.

But his situation did not enhance, the added days of climbing and tenting solely exacerbating the ache in his ankle.

“I was young and arrogant, wanting to prove that I could do everything and ended up hurting myself,” Wan tells CNN Travel.

Simon wan chi chung hiked every hong kong mountain

Simon Wan Chi-Chung, artist and photographer, is now planning his subsequent nice Hong Kong journey.

Maggie Wong/CNN

But an encounter with a fellow hiker — an older man he met earlier that morning — gave him a brand new perspective. As the two acquaintances made it to the peak, they noticed the rolling hills in entrance of them.

“This ‘Day 9 uncle’ gasped when he heard about my mission to climb all of Hong Kong’s peaks,” remembers Wan.

“He gave me his slice of bread and said, ‘young man, you’re going to need this more than I do.’ He grabbed an orange from his bag and repeated, ‘You need this more.’ It was such a simple gesture. But I stopped feeling pity for myself. I let go of my arrogance and felt humbled by the mountains.”

With a heavy coronary heart and a swollen ankle, he determined to press pause on the journey. Wan went dwelling to nurse his foot for 3 weeks, then completed climbing the remainder of the 148 peaks on his listing a number of weeks later.

It was considered one of his most memorable encounters and considered one of the causes he is dedicated to Hong Kong’s pure world.

“On the hills, people are more likely to talk and connect,” says Wan.

“You won’t have that experience in the city. Nature makes people feel comfortable and secure.”

‘Hong Kong is a metropolis hidden inside wilderness’

Simon wan climbed every hill and island in hong kong

Wan prefers to work with movie. He used a panorama digital camera for his expedition in 2003.

Simon Wan Chi-Chung

In addition to its 148 hills, Hong Kong can be dwelling to greater than 100 island clusters made up of over 250 particular person islands. Wan claims to be considered one of the few individuals to have visited every considered one of them, saying he is all the time wished to turn out to be an adventurer.

“I was researching how to fulfill my childhood dream — to climb Mount Everest. But as I dug deeper, I realized how commercialized Mount Everest had become. It was an alternative high-end travel attraction. It wasn’t the Mount Everest from my childhood dream,” says Wan throughout an interview at his studio, The Photocrafters.

Having spent years finding out in the UK, Wan realized he did not know Hong Kong’s panorama very nicely.

An thought hit him: “Why not explore every single hill in my own backyard? And why not do that in one go?”

Carrying a bivvy bag and a movie digital camera, Wan launched into a collection of “expeditions.” Ten years after his first trek by Hong Kong’s mountains in 2003, he repeated the journey in 2013.

Simon wan climbed every hill and island in hong kong

Rather than arrange a tent, Wan slept in a bivvy bag throughout his quests to go to all of Hong Kong’s peaks.

Simon Wan Chi-Chung

But this time, he was underneath a tighter schedule so he opted to solely sort out the peaks that have been a minimum of 300 meters tall.

Trekking 26 to 30 kilometers, or 11 to 12 hours, per day, he reached 134 peaks in 19 days, tenting in totally different components of Hong Kong alongside the manner.

He titled the works from these journeys “Post Urbanisation.”

Then, in 2015, he voyaged to 107 uninhabited island clusters, touring by canoe, in 11 days. “These were ‘hills’ I hadn’t climbed as well,” he says.

“These days, you know about the place before getting on a plane — you’ve booked a hotel, seen photos online, or even know what restaurants to book before leaving your home. In these journeys, I’ve been to places I’d never heard of and villages I’d never seen. You wouldn’t find much information about some places online.

“It seems, I needn’t go to Mount Everest or a international nation to seek out that pleasure and happiness of explorations and adventures.”

Simon wan climbed every hill and island in hong kong

“On the hills, individuals are extra prone to discuss and join,” says Wan.

Simon Wan Chi-Chung

Mountain and island names unfamiliar to most Hong Kongers roll off Wan’s tongue as he retells anecdotes from his trips.

He says he learned the history of Ap Chau, a rugged island in the northeastern part of Hong Kong, during an impromptu tour from a persistent retired villager who found Wan sleeping at the pier one morning.

He visited the memorial plate for Quentin Roosevelt II, Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson, on Basalt Island, where Roosevelt was killed in a plane crash in 1948. It’s a part of the city’s history not written in many textbooks.

“It could also be an previous adage, however Hong Kong’s nature is exclusive for its comfort,” says Wan. “No matter the place you might be, there’s all the time a hill behind you. You do not need to plan something or ask for a break day. You can simply go at lunch.

“People say there is great wilderness within Hong Kong. I say it is the other way around — Hong Kong is a city hidden within the wilderness.”

Wan has loads of recommendation for these wanting to begin exploring Hong Kong’s wild areas as nicely.

“Whether you’re a waterfall climber or a leisure walker, there is a route for you,” he says enthusiastically. “Most of the hiking trails are well-paved with signs and facilities along the way — so it really is for everyone.”

A stone’s throw away from the common Victoria Peak (or The Peak), it provides a fast style of Hong Kong’s pure magnificence however is correct subsequent to a vibrant enterprise heart.

Simon wan climbed every hill and island in hong kong

Mount High West is barely a stone’s throw from common vacationer vacation spot The Peak.

Simon Wan Chi-Chung

Meanwhile, Lion Rock Hill, on Hong Kong’s Kowloon facet, provides “an unbeatable view of Kowloon,” with trails appropriate for every sort of hiker.

Nature as an emotional platform

Capturing the fantastic thing about Hong Kong’s pure facet is greater than only a picture project for Wan. It’s an outlet for him to precise his feelings as nicely.

While going by a painful divorce in 2011, he says he hiked up a distinct mountain every day he could not see his then two-year-old son.

“I’d take a photo towards the direction of where he was,” says Wan. “Maybe he’d happen to look my way at that moment. Then, we’d be looking at each other. I’ve one copy of the journey at the Heritage Museum and I’ve one copy here for my son, so he’d know that I never gave up on him.”

On his 2013 hike round Hong Kong, in addition to his island-hopping journey in 2015, he used a Holga — a made-in-Hong Kong movie digital camera with restricted performance.

Simon wan climbed every hill and island in hong kong

Wan used a Hong Kong-designed Holga digital camera on a few of his journeys.

Simon Wan Chi-Chung

“I knew before my trips that the Holga camera wouldn’t be able to yield ideal results,” Wan explains.

“But I wanted to use the camera as a metaphor for myself. I’d persevere and I wouldn’t change as an artist. At the same time, I acknowledge that the environment is something I couldn’t control so I had to let go.”

Wan’s subsequent Hong Kong hill expedition will occur this summer season.

“I hate Hong Kong’s summer — it’s humid and hot and festered with typhoons. But I want to make the journey as challenging and memorable as possible so I’ll remember deeply how unique Hong Kong’s summer is,” says Wan.

“Some people get wasted when they need to release their emotions. I go into the mountains during my ups and downs. I think there is no difference. I love my home — I love this land. That’s why I am so devoted to this project. I think I will spend my lifetime doing this if I can.”

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