If We Don’t Stop Worrying, We Will Die

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Hong Kong 2016

Hong Kong is the most memorable journey I had
First experience of winter (but no snow).
Celebrated my 30th birthday away from the family.

Memorable experience I say because this is considered as a trip to remember after I was diagnosed with cancer. Feared that after the revelation, I could not do the plans that I had planned for months before. It takes a lot of courage to continue even though death is on my way. I have to think between two destinations. One is certain, and that is my plan to work/travel in Hong Kong; and the other one is uncertain, seeing myself inside the coffin if I will just keep thinking of my disease.

I shrugged off the thoughts at that time that I already have a cancer. And continue with the plan I had already made. So, I booked the ticket and started traveling like I am not sick in the first place. That was the first step of courage in beating cancer.

I stayed 2 weeks in Hong Kong with my best friend. I visited places and taught English at the same time and spent time alone during my last few days and enjoyed traveling solo.

So, where in Hong Kong did I go? My photographs last year were not that as good as I could have now with my other travels. Well, let me try my best to highlight one of the places I’d been to, with some of the best photos I could get.

Island hopping – A random day trip in Sai Kung located in the New Territories. I went there by myself, thought I could go hiking, but it was not that easy as I imagined. Left around lunchtime from Kowloon where I stay. I took the MTR to Diamond Hill and went down from there and took a bus that took 40 minutes travel. The bus trip was actually uncertain and was afraid to get lost, but as soon as I saw the terminal which is nearby Sai Kung Waterfront Park, I hopped down right away and see what I can do there. The most spontaneous trip when I was in Hong Kong.

Sharp Island, HK

Where did I go? Sharp Island! It’s a 10-minute boat trip (kaito, a small, motorized ferry) that cost for only about 20 – 40 HKD. Arriving the pier on Sharp Island, you will be stepping on its elevated pier where you can witness already the whole beautiful scenery. I went a short hike from the stony trail to the mountain that lasts for a few hours and went back to Sai Kung Public Pier before the sun will set and went back to Kowloon safe and sound. Going solo is not that bad. You can always ask anyone to snap a photo for you. And there you go! Some of my snaps!

 

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TST Promenade – Of course it’s in East Tsim Sha Tsui! A breathtaking walk along the street went and saw many places such as: Avenue of Stars, Garden of Stars, Hong Kong Space Museum, Wall-less Chit-ChaNt (a two large-scale artwork) where everyone can sing, shout or chat through a big cornet, and most especially, the beautiful view of the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour.

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Transportation in Hong Kong is not very complicated to be learned. There are plenty of ways to get around the city, you could go by taxi, ferry, rail, bus or tram. As long as you have the octopus card, and beep your way through MRTs and even supermarket checkout counters like what the locals do, you should never get behind them nor you will be lost in this small city of Hong Kong!

There are limitless destinations and tourist sights to see and do. Also try to do a research and go somewhere in Hong Kong that is not really a familiar sight and discover it by yourself. Communication is not a problem as most of the people there speak English. Rest assured, you can experience Hong Kong in the best possible way, even for a short period of time.

Colorful, meaningful and significant memories with the lanterns, nature, pagoda and statues made my trip to Hong Kong more memorable.

And of course, with a best friend, the one and only.

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Tin & Cielo

My Leiomyosarcoma (2)

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Escape the Ordinary

A journey of a 40 kilometers begins with a single step.

Many tourists, locals, and expats come to Vietnam to see the intrinsic and the wild beautiful nature of the country. Too many options they can choose from exploring the city, delve into their culture, visiting exotic places and discover remote islands. Vietnam is not that small as you can imagine. You must give yourself time to explore.

One of the most popular tourist activities in Vietnam is jungle trekking, mountain hiking, countryside hitchhiking, walking and other sprawling escapades. Many people will definitely recommend you the following places:

  1. Sapa
  2. Pu Luong
  3. Mai Chau
  4. Cao Bang
  5. Cat Ba Island
  6. Ba Be Lake and National Park
  7. Cuc Phuong National Park
  8. Cat Tien National Park

But little do many people know about the mountains of Ta Nang – Phan Dung. These are two places which are located in Lam Dong Province (the main city is Da Lat, the capital). If you look on Google, Ta Nang Phan Dung‘s address is written as Unnamed Road, Phan Dũng, Tuy Phong, Bình Thuận. For a foreigner like me who joined this trek, it will be difficult for me to do the research as every result in the search engine written in Vietnamese. This place is not even known to the locals.

Let me bring you to the mountain where it is distant, stony, slopey and grassy.

Let’s escape the ordinary.

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Ta Nang Phan Dung Hiking Trail

What are we expecting from this trekking/hiking?

  • Time – 3 days and 2 nights (1st night in the bus & 2nd night at the campsite)
  • Distance – 25 kilometers, day 1 with 29,000 steps and 15 kilometers, day 2 with 27,000 steps = 40 kilometers
  • Elevation – 700 meters (2296.59 feet) **500 meters low point and 1200 meters high point
  • Weather – superb, dry and sunny
  • Wildlife – moths and other insects **rumors only – some snake on the way but fortunately, we haven’t seen one

Friday, 1st September, 10pm. Everyone met at the agreed venue before taking a 6-hour road trip from Saigon to Ta Nang. An air-conditioned bus was waiting for us ready to take us to our destination.

Saturday, 2nd September, 3am. A stopover for our early breakfast. Everyone is served with hot rice noodles and tea for a cold, dark morning. After the substantial breakfast, we were moved to the next stop where we will start our trekking/hiking around 5 in the morning.

A young local living in Ta Nang driving the tractor for us.

The photo above was our first encounter. A tractor was waiting for us to take us into the nature. We are fortunate enough to book a tour that was led by Nick Tan.

Joining this trek with Nick’s group has been so easy for everyone. It’s up to every hiker which gear to bring. Actually, there is no need for a special gear to bring. As long as everyone is wearing a light, comfortable clothing and footwear. In fact, some overdo what to wear, some are not so prepared. And of course, with our heavy bags, for most of the first timers, they bring a lot of kilos of stuff in their bags which eventually made them regret somehow why they did that. Yet, there was no more backing out. With our heavy and light bags, our goal is to conquer the heights, difficulties along the way and escape the ordinary.

The beginning of the trek.

On our hike, we passed through muddy roads, lots of streams and more thick, unending mud. There were times that we could not keep on our feet and down the mountain we went, we moved like children go down the stairs. We had got to be extra careful even though falling down is the part of the adventure. But we never want the worst case to happen in our adventure and eventually, everyone in the team was so glad that no one was hurt or injured.

A guy carrying a heavy backpack.
Crossing the streams.
Passing through muddy roads.

Sunday, 3rd September, 5am. The most anticipated moment by everyone – to see the beautiful sunrise. Nobody had said that hiking to the mountain or trekking to the jungle is easy, wasn’t it? Yet, if you allow yourself to keep going on the entire journey, you will see the beauty in every step of the way, not only at the summit, expect to see little things and details in its own beautiful way.

Sunrise at 5:30am

Highlights:

THE CAMPING

The Camping. The best part of the trip was we can have the sunrise waiting for us right outside our tent. The tents were facing at the sunrise. Nick’s team has taken care of us as well where we can sleep comfortably at night.

THE SUMMIT

The Summit. Reaching the highest summit that has 1,200 meters gave everyone great satisfaction in spite of rigorous and challenging activity throughout the day. We were too exhausted yet felt really great to see the beauty of the nature on the horizon.

THE NATURE

The Nature. Streams, marbles, big stones, moths and other insects, tall trees, pine trees and even grasses. These are just the definition of the beautiful landscape of the mountain where it definitely gave everyone the power over nature and taught us to respect nature as well.

THE SUNRISE

The Sunrise. Indeed, mountains have an effect on the time and length of sunrise and sunset. You will appreciate the full beauty, the changes of the color from purple twilight into a bright yellow-orange sunrise.

And, the last but not the least, this video from Nguyễn Võ Hoài Thương will give you the entire sight of our adventure.

If any of you is interested to experience this adventure, feel free to contact Nick through email or mobile number (0985.806.896).

Nick Tan, Fresh Tour Organizer