Moonlight Hike

At 3 am, after hiking for hours, I collapsed on a rusted out roof that covered a concrete shelter on top of Lantau Peak. A French girl climbed on the roof after me and asked if I wanted any grapes, and they were the best grapes I've ever had.

The wind was very loud up there, and we were all soaked with sweat, and for the first time in weeks I felt cold. I dangled my legs off the rough edge of the roof, able to see the orange of Hong Kong city behind a great valley that was a bowl below our mountain curving up toward a smaller one probably a mile away. There were hundreds of ships in the ocean that night, and their small lights looked very clear even though they were reportedly, according to several people, thousands of miles away.

As sunrise came and the clouds pushed up the valley, I saw that we were surrounded by smaller islands with no signs of people, cars or buildings. The wind picked up again, and the fog floated over the crest of the giant bowl and fell over the rocky edge down the other side. "Look," someone yelled, "Gravity!" And the sun rose blindingly from the orange and red smeared sky that expected it.

We were on Lantau Island. It is the largest in the Hong Kong archipelago and southwest of the city. It is also home to the Tian Tan Buddha, the world famous hundred foot tall bronze statue. He sits over Ngong Ping, a highland below Lantau Peak that conveniently houses a Starbucks.

Around that area, looking up at the Buddha, sits Po Lin Monastery. It is surrounded by construction of some type. I think it will be a revolutionized tourist center sometime in 2011. You take both, I guess, if you want the former. But the monastery is beautiful and modest, with more color in its one room than anywhere I have ever seen.

The trail up the mountain became, long before it ended, a steep zig-zag staircase. Climbing in the dark and looking down on shaky legs, we could see a long line of glow sticks and flash lights moving in a giant Z up the mountain. Each step was a miniature boulder. I wonder who built this trail and why those people aren't world famous.

Peace, brah

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