Climbing the Lion’s Rock barefoot

I have reported on this blog about my barefoot hiking adventures quite frequently. This ranged from climbing suicide cliff, to climbing Lantau Peak, and even being caught in a storm barefoot. One hike, however, I had never completed, either shod or barefoot. It was climbing the Lion’s Rock barefoot.

A symbol of Hong Kong

The Lion’s Rock has always been dear to the heart of every hongkongese. The reason being that the crouching Lion watching over Kowloon is also a symbol of their undefeatable spirit and thirst for independence.

That is why, on several occasions, during the “Occupy” movement, activists used to hang banners in sign of protest from the top of the Lion’s head.

One activist explains why they hung a banner on the Lion’s Rock

Today, these times have passed, and activists have tamed themselves or forgotten any illusion of facing off with Beijing. The Lion’s rock hike, instead is just as popular as it has been.

Three routes

We started from Shatin Wai, as I was with my friend Matthew for this barefoot hike. Another route is climbing from Wong Tai Sin, or adding it as a trifecta to Suicide cliff and middle hill.

Obviously, we decided to start from the lesser known route, which starts in Shatin Wai, and offers quite interesting views on Shatin along the way. To do so, we climbed on “Kitty Hill”, a little mountain offering spectacular views on Shatin.

Point of interest view by drone
Matthew and me on 'kitty hill'
Matthew and me on “Kitty HIll”, on the outskirts of Shatin, at the beginning of our hike

From there on, started a roughly one hour and a half hike across the hills of Shatin, without much to signal, until our arrival at the stairs of the Lion’s Rock.

Stairs, stairs, stairs and more stairs

This title could be in fact a summary of all Hong Kong hikes, but the Lion’s rock is no exception to the rule: there is an incalculable number of stairs to climb to get to the view point.

On the way to the Lion’s rock

All in all, it took us 2hrs to arrive to the Lion’s rock. Once you arrive at the end of the trail, you still have to continue braving rocks and the abyss to get to the Lion’s head. There is a quite tricky passage to go through barefoot, when climbing down to the Lion’s Rock head.

Heading to the Lion’s Rock head

From the Lion’s head, you can find an easier trail to descend, which is mostly composed of gentler stairs than those we took to climb.

Gorgeous views

Suicide cliff has already some gorgeous view, but when there is no haze, the view from the Lion’s rock easily compares.

Me on the Lion's rock
Standing on the Lion’s rock!

While hiking there, we saw one climber abseiling down the Lion’s Rock… One example among those courageous mountaineers who enjoy training in this area.

Mountaineer on Lion's rock
A mountaineer abseiling from the Lion’s Rock head.

Returning down

The trail was pretty much frequented, as this was the second day in a three-day public holiday in Hong Kong.

Many families were climbing this trail. It must be said that while most of the trail does not present much danger, bringing young children on this trail does expose them to some useless dangers, as some passages involve having to scramble over rocks.

Daytrip to Perpignan

When you are in Catalunya, Perpignan is probably the closest French city after crossing the Pyrenees. That’s why we decided to do a daytrip to Perpignan during our stay in Barcelona. After a couple hours driving through the mountains, you arrive at a little Southern city which still has some marks of the neighboring Catalunya.

A historic provincial French town

Mitchy in front of the Castillet
The building in front of which Mitchy poses is the Castillet, now a museum of Catalan art.

The history of Perpignan is far more prestigious than one would think. In the XIIIth century, Perpignan was the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca, created by the sovereign of Aragon for one of his children. This “golden age” for Perpignan saw it reach its peak in terms of importance, with its population and geographical extension expanding fourfold.

After the black pest decimated the city around 1346 AD, the city never truly regained its past importance. It became instead the frontline of the confrontation between France and Spain on XVth century until it was annexed by France, two centuries later. In the XIXth century, the great military defensive works that protected Perpignan, erected by the French military architect Vauban, were destroyed by the municipality to allow for the expansion of the city. Only some old parts of the ramparts as well as the Castillet (featured above) serve as reminders of the past military importance of this city.

A canal in Perpignan
A canal in Perpignan

Photogenic outdoors

La Bassa in Perpignan
Mitchy posing on the banks of La Bassa, the small canal flowing through the center of Perpignan

Perpignan conserved some very photogenic outdoors, which are excellent backdrops for portraits. The city is very nicely decorated and lovely to walk through, as the historic center just spans a very small distance.

Plane tree avenue
A very atmospheric plane tree avenue in Perpignan

This plane trees avenue with its tormented branches provides a great atmospheric feeling, almost haunting. It is also a great backdrop to shoot portraits.

Mitchy in Perpignan
Mitchy before the plane tree lane in Perpignan

Shopping in Perpignan?

For a provincial city, Perpignan has some nice department stores, like Fnac (for books, or gadgets) or Galeries Lafayettes in the center, near the Castillet.

If you go there during the winter sales period, you may find some bargains to be had on clothes or housewares. Sadly, books are seldom if ever on sale. As far as gadgets are concerned, for someone living in Hong Kong, it just does not make sense to go and buy them from the FNAC.

In conclusion, if you are in Barcelona, and if you are self-driven, it might be worth taking a daytrip to Perpignan to see part of the old historic Catalan territory.