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Beautiful Hong Kong: An Ignominy In Pictures

Oh what fun it is to hike on a Hong Kong hazy day

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Another lovely view from Tai Mo Shan

It’s that time again

Every year in Hong Kong it’s the same – the clear skies of summer give way to the dreaded haze around September, and things generally don’t improve until well after the following spring. That’s six months of dire views, failed photographs, and people moaning about how every year Hong Kong’s air pollution gets worse.

I speculated in my post Is Hong Kong Killing Me? about the cause of the problem. The lack of rain and tropical storms may be the main reason the pollution is allowed to linger. But if that is the case, rather than being an interruption to the relative clarity of the summer months, the hazy frustration that winter brings would surely then be Hong Kong’s default setting.

Of course, it is generally considered good practice to blame China for Hong Kong’s problems if there is even the slightest hint of conjecture. Though even that once solid ruse has found less and less support over the last few years. All those coal-fired power stations firing up for winter is bound to have some effect when the wind starts blowing. But however much you blame the neighbours, if the turd is on your doorstep, it’s still more than likely it was your dog that did the deed.

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The View from Lion Rock

Hong Kong haze from Braemar Hill

The Hong Kong haze as seen from Braemar Hill

Why go out at all?

My health may be in the terminal stages of being irreparably damaged by all this smog, but it’s more the weeks on end of terrible photo weather that concerns me most. Admittedly, the January just past was uncommonly glorious – blue skies and happy faces all over New Year when freezing misery is normally the best you can expect. But November through December was largely a disappointing smogout.

Every evening I’d be out there, trying to find some as-yet-unclimbed peak to hike to the top of, hoping against all logic that “maybe it won’t look as bad once I’m up there”. Yet each time I’d come away with a memory card full of hazy dross that was no good for anything.

Lion Rock and Beacon Hill were a waste of time, as was Braemar Hill. While hiking up to Jardine’s Lookout in the middle of December was the biggest disappointment of the lot. Where ordinarily the whole of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour can be seen from the top, all that I could see was a grey nonsense beyond the greenery of the nearest slopes.

I’m not sure what lessons we can draw from all of this – that Hong Kong’s air isn’t great and in winter it’s even worse? Well, we kind of knew that anyway. Hike when you can for there may be no next time? I don’t know. But here are the photos all the same. I tried my best with them without a great deal to work with. But clearer days can’t come soon enough.

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Stunning views from Jardine’s Lookout

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Central Plaza … somewhere

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A smoggy Victoria Harbour

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