Mountain and their Cities: Edinburgh, Hong Kong and Toronto
I changed the title of this article from “Cities and their Mountains” to its current form because I just learnt the phrase “Remember, you belong to nature, not it to you” by Grey Owl. It will be some time before it sinks in, impacting how I relate to the nature.
I recently walked East Don Trail Phase 2, which is north of Eglinton and East of the Don Valley Parkway, and I am dying to go all the way downtown this fall, to feel its place in the city.
As I soaked my feet in the water, and set under the blazing sun, I thought about other urban trails that I walked.
Arthur’s Seat and its Edinburgh
A few years ago I hiked/walked the Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, a leisurely climb up a gentle hill that brings you to a plateau-ish top that overlooks this centuries old city. There are numerous accesses from residential areas to tourist and commercial areas. It is gentle enough for the young and the old, or those on heels or in suit.
My Edinburgh airbnb stay and conference venue were both across the street from the mid-western access to Arthur’s Seat. I went over it 3 times in 5 days, the last time in dressed shoes with shirt and tie during the afternoon before I said goodbye to the city. Sitting on one of its lookouts, I felt welcomed by the mountain as if returning to a neighbourhood pub.
Lion Rock and its Hong Kong
How do I even begin writing about this symbol of Hong Kong, once romanticized as a steadfast foundation to the city’s economic miracle, but now a symbol of defiance and hope for freedom?
Towering over residential Kowloon, it rises steeply up half a kilometre, overlooking the entire Kowloon Peninsula. The modest but steep 495m climb is challenging due to loosen and dried soiled as a result of harsh sun and rain. A search for ‘Lion Rock umbrella’ or ‘Lion Rock protest lights’ will yield results that give readers an idea how symbolisms from 1980s songs or photos has been transformed in the past few years.
Regardless of cultural or political views, Lion Rock remains a popular challenge for hikers looking for something serious. I think I climbed it 3 to 4 times in total, the last time in late fall of 2014, a day when helicopters were dispatched there to remove protest banners. ‘Lion Rock’ is at the vortex of a struggle for meaning and aspirations in Hong Kong.
Don Valley and its Toronto (not really a mountain)
Though it is never too late to start, I still feel bad that I have not walked the Don Trail in the 16 years I lived here. I got a taste of it last week walking the east section north of Eglinton and east of Don Valley Parkway. It felt like an open secret, a world of tranquillity right under the clogged artery of road rage and exhaust fumes. It was as if I was lying at the bottom of a river, watching the world above the water zoom by.
Well, I must do the trail this fall and perhaps write something about it.