Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mindfulness, Lugard Road, Running, Lo Pan

I started writing this around 8am. I had the first day of this gig. It's 7:40pm -- finishing it up.

I managed to do this one time in London: this 'mindful' 'being present' writing down of things on these work trips. That trip, the London one, turned out...not hard like a thing that is actually hard, but hard in the context of my cosseted life. I worked till near-midnight the last couple nights, got sick, etc., blah.

Had a few golden days: home. Now: Hong Kong.

The flight over was b***z. A plane like they had in my childhood: tiny seats, cramped with a dude my size next to me (good-natured, thanks goodness); still sick; my vegetarian meal airline-forgotten. Woe. So I arrived in HK feeling all hard done by -- again, not really, and even in my allegedly hard-done-by-ness I knew that: not really. But also still feeling hard done by. Also, still sick! So I get a pass there. It stinks, being sick.

Then this morning, my first here in HK, I woke up at the usual time which was of course not that hard, and  I went running in Lung Fu Shan Country Park, which contains Lugard Road, which--friends, wow. Holy sh*t.

I try to have rules in my runs, especially when they are unfamiliar and so I don't know how to make the right kind of workout out of them--when they're exploratory, in new places. Simple rules:
Always take the craggly trail and rip it. 
Always take the smoother trail and go fast. 
Stop at every silly fitness station and do its little things. 
Whatever. 

I had no idea what to expect, heading out onto lamplit Ching Lin Terrace before dawn. I chose to stay there because it was near a park that looked pretty good, and my AirBnB host (no idea what to CAPS or not, there)--who seems trustworthy--agreed: it's a good park.

I had my headlamp on: before dawn.

It became immediately clear that the rule of this run would be: Go Up. Because it was all m0therf*ckin1g about up, this place. From Ching Lin terrace, I passed a lovely and ornate bedecked building (more later), and I took some stairs and from then on: up. Up to Pok Fu Lam Road, a busy thoroughfare with a bus station where one of the buses I can apparently take to work picks up. Dash across that, wondering if Hong Kong is the kind of place where you get in trouble for dashing thus. There weren't fences or anything. Find the park entrance. Stairs: up.

Up through a darkened velvety rocky trail, wet with nighttime and the kind of lank air of this place; then around what I later learned was a reservoir, or was referred to as such. The trail: tight, gorgeous; slow because truly dark, overhung with thick trees and vines, and crowded with stone on my left--granite and natural, both, erupting from the steep hillside. And I kind of thought I'd take what, looking at the map back at my flat, had looked like kind of a ring road. Then, I saw this turn-off. To "Hatton Road", and a thing about a "peak": up.

This isn't a run log. I won't take you through all the steps. The steps went from ordered, to disordered, to absent, to ordered; serendipity grace and good fortune: up, juking, up, and then making my last and best choice at a fork: take the loop that is Lugard Road. Did not even know it would be more up. And then, friends:
I did not take this picture. Andy took this picture. His blog is here.
Let me be superclear (no internet thievery here @ slimbuttons inc.): I didn't take this awesome pic. It was taken by internet-dude Andy, here. Way to go, Andy. Thank you for capturing a glimpse of what it feels like to come upon this. Go Up.

It was misty this morning, so not quite as clear as this pic but...the run was awesome before this. Really: awesome: misted; sung by unfamiliar birds cawing and rustling in the wet-biome foliage that is so nice and so present in this part of this world; going up up up--a terrific run, before Lugard Road bent around and the foliage opened and: take a look, again. Just: there on your run, unexpected. With the wind coming in not too cold and older Chinese men and women out for their walks, some white folks as well--this is Hong Kong, lots of folks--and you say 'Good Morning' and they say 'Good Morning' and some of them sound like they barely know the words and some of them sound like they're from, whatever, Cleveland, and some respond in what you have to assume is Chinese running up and then...that. Take a look, again. At your side for a long time, scrolling like a video game backdrop.

So, you've gone up. So then you go...yeah.

The thing about down: it is less good than up. Particularly on stairs. On stairs up is rad: you throw yourself forward, great burn in your quads, heart going nuts. And nothing bad can happen! Stairs, down...it's the opposite. First off, remember these were uneven, scraggly stone stairs set into a hillside in a picturesque way. Gorgeous. Lethal. Steep AF, and there's no rail so you trip and wow, wow. So you kind of pick your way down, mincing: not as fun. And you still almost trip a couple of times! Cuz you're a klutz and of course you are kind of trying to mince, if you must, at least as fast as you can. But you catch yourself before you really tip, you don't really dive forward headlong into it until--

I have eaten it, on runs. Readers of this blog will know.

So, heading down the penultimate stairs, a white winding stairwell from Pok Fu Lam Road towards--I'd just happened to note--"Lo Pan" Temple, my big toe caught on my other big toe (or some sh1t; my Vibrams are too big, I got them on sale 3 years ago; they're a mess) and I went flying forward and caught myself on the rail that was finally, suddenly, present on this set of stairs.Had there not been a rail, had this catch happened forty seconds earlier, as I came down from the park...I'd've just gone sailing out into open air.

And somehow this linked in my mind, and I thought about the sign I'd just seen; and I stopped at that building I'd hwisshed past in the pre-dawn dark; it was post-dawn now, steely grey and brightening. Lovely building; and I checked and: yup, Lo Pan Temple. The one I'd seen on the sign. It's very pretty.

I'm not sure what one does for the "patron saint of Chinese builders and contractors", in thanks. I'll find something to do--even just some acknowledgment. Thank you, Lo Pan--for catching my fall, or for catching my foot to give me a near fall that sent lightning crackling over my skin. And thank you Hong Kong for this run, and anyone out there with the goodwill to read one single word of this, ever.
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