Freedom to breathe

This morning I had a double workout session. Double because I did my normal round of jogging plus I went hiking with a friend to Pokfulam Country park leading to the Peak Trail. The start of the hike is not very far from my house which is extremely convenient as I always have to be back to pick up my younger son from school by mid-day everyday. Hong Kong is full of good walking trails ranging from family walks to the more difficult and longer trails. Check out this website if you want to know more details - Hong Kong Trails.  This particular trail is featured under the Family Walks category so it is not ''that'' difficult, but if you are a first-timer then it does take a bit more energy and will power to push yourself up the steep gradient, specially when your mind is working overtime trying to juggle the day's to-do lists that are waiting back home! "How much time do you normally take?" I asked my friend. "40 minutes", she replied. 'That's not so bad', I thought, till she said "40 minutes one way". That works to one hour and 20 minutes as opposed to my regular jogging which takes only 20 minutes!! Anyway can't chicken out now, can I?

This trail starts at Pok Fu Lam Reservoir, which itself is a beautiful water body and ends at The Victoria Peak which is one of the highest mountain peaks in Hong Kong with an altitude of 1811 feet (source- Wikipedia). At the start of the route even before you reach the reservoir there is a small stable and a riding school - The Pokfulam Riding school, where I always stop and take a break of about 2 minutes to inhale the scent of the horses! Must be sounding bizarre to you but the scent takes me down memory lane to my childhood when I used to learn horse riding as a 6 year old and to my favourite horse- Lucy....I can go on about this but will save it for another post.

So, we leave the riding school behind and continue up the slope, pass the reservoir and then suddenly just a couple of minutes away, the blaring noise of the traffic dims and dies down and the welcome sounds of the birds fill the air. The hot sun burning down your neck seems to disappear replaced by a shield of green leaves overhead and the air quality improves so drastically that from having to take short gulps of make-believe oxygen, our lungs start inhaling deep breaths of pure filtered air. We walk on, chatting about nothing and everything, panting hard, sweating profusely yet not slackening our pace. We continue over the gradual terrain and then the steeper gradients, discovering new things about each other. There was a very friendly dog with a little boy and his guardian walking right in front of us and both the dog and his little master were lost in a game of fetch and throw, unmindful of the effort that it took to run down a few steps to get the ball and then to run back up. There were other hikers too, mostly mums like us, helpers with their dogs and one or two serious male joggers. Time just flew and we made it to the top without taking a single break, but I did just pause once to take these photographs with my Samsung Galaxy-II (love that phone). We took exactly 40 minutes to walk all the way up and once we reached the top I had this feeling of sheer elation, like I have conquered something. It was not just about the trail, it was about the camaraderie, the positive energy flowing through my body giving me a sense of happiness, peace and renewed vigour.

My friend treated me to a delicious glass of cold coffee at Starbucks and of course some more quiet conversation. Then, I headed back down the trail, by myself this time as my friend had another appointment to keep. This time the walk, or rather the jog down was completely effortless as my mind was working separately from my body and was already thinking about what I was going to write about in my new post. In fact the title of this post was decided just then. I jogged all the way down which took only 20 minutes and finally as I emerged from the thick foliage all my to-do lists seemed so doable to me and I was ready to face my regular day with an 'irregular' kind of energy!

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