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A Walk through Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, Hong Kong

Whilst visiting my N2D (Number 2 Daughter) in Hong Kong as she recovered from hip surgery I finally worked up the courage to take a long walk and explore Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, Hong Kong.This area had been the home of N2D for the past 18 months. I’ve been meaning to put a post together to show everyone what Tin Shui Wai was like, but found time a little constrained lately. However, I have finally managed to put something together and for those who are interested, I hope you enjoy.

During my stay, I’d regularly visit the gym and learnt to use the treadmill, however, I was craving a good old fashioned long walk. The only problem was, and why I hadn’t gone sooner, was Tin Shui Wai is a concrete jungle, with high rise buildings that appear to all look the same. Until you’ve been there awhile and begin to slowly notice the differences, to the unobservant eye, everything blends in and looks the same. Everything, including street signs are written in Chinese and I did not know any landmarks to help me out.

One thing I had noticed though was the grey skies of Tin Shui Wai. In the 12 days I visited we got a total of 20 minutes of sunshine; no joke! Sunshine seemed scarce in this part of the world. Yes, it was winter, but gosh, you’d think it would be sunny for some of it. I’m not sure how I’d go living there for any length of time. I’m sure I’d miss my Brissy climate. Us BrisVegas folk are really quite spoilt when it comes to weather.

After Day 6, I decided that I just had to take a walk, no matter what. What the heck! It would be an adventure and a chance to feel vulnerable just like I know I will when walking through Spain. I procured a local map from reception of the hotel and began to study it. I would walk alone and hoped not to get lost. N2D gave me the hotel’s phone number to call if I did. I hoped I would not have to use it. Today’s post will be pictorial. I hope you enjoy.


The start of my walk began at a park close to where N2D lives.


I found some children blowing bubbles near the water fountain.


A typical view throughout the parkland


The gardens are well kept and clean


The backdrop behind the park


Identical bridges just like this one are built all along the canal at set distances


Locals stroll and ride their bikes along the banks of the canal


The walkway beside the canal


These bridges help locals cross from one side of the canal to the other and are all identical


 The grungier side of the canal


Contrast: Wall art vs neglect & litter



A sacrifice of thanksgiving


High rise apartment buildings like this one are found everywhere. People string their washing outside the windows.


Until the 1990’s Tin Shui Wai did not exist – it was totally a vast wetland and rice paddies


Many locals make use of this area – I even saw a man getting his hair clipped while sitting on a kitchen chair along this walkway


Little boxes full of people


Hong Kong Wetlands Park is a feature of this area


I ended up making a full circuit back to where I started by following my local map

(instead of retracing my steps as I originally planned – it seems I became more adventurous)


The electric trams are used to get the locals to the nearest train station – they are a fast and efficient mode of transport


I had to smile at this…


Here marks the spot where I begin to head away from my circuit and begin to navigate my way back to my starting position – into the jungle I go


The autumn leaves of winter


The colours of Tin Shui Wai


It’s a rabbit warren in there – there are tunnels and ramps everywhere – you really need to know where you are going


I had to chuckle


More traditional styles of signage


I wonder if this school has a playground?


It really is a jungle in there – a concrete jungle with a dash of green

In total I walked for nearly three hours exploring Tin Shui Wai. I enjoyed the walk immensely and I found the sights and people intriguing. I didn’t get lost, although a lovely elderly Chinese couple did stop and confirm that I was headed in the right direction after I paused at one of the intersections (for a wee bit longer than normal). I was trying to get my bearings and they could see me studying my map (maybe the way I kept turning the map around gave them a clue). They kindly came to my ‘rescue’ and set me on my way once again.

Buen Camino

Positively ~ On Track

Hola Pilgrims,

Even though I’ve had some time off from blogging about my pilgrimage preparations, it doesn’t mean I’ve had time off from my pilgrimage preparations; far from it, actually. Preparations are progressing well and continue to stay on track, especially where my training is concerned.

After I returned from Hong Kong, I’d already fallen in love with the routine of gym and the feelings of reward I received after each of my sessions, so I decided to look into finding a gym close to home that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg and that offered all the equipment I’d grown accustomed to back in Hong Kong. There are plenty of gyms around but not all gyms are the same. They might offer similar activities, but it’s not all about the equipment or the sessions they offer, I found out. I had to find a gym that I felt comfortable working out at as well. The gym I finally settled on was within walking distance from my home and after taking a tour of it, I decided it looked like the place I would benefit most from.

H2O is housed within the  Sleemans Sports Complex. Click on the links to see for yourself the variety of classes they offer. It really is a one-stop shop; a smorgasbord of land and water classes and everything else physical that you could wish for. I’ve been a member since June, 2013 and have no regrets. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made since my return from Hong Kong and I have managed to prioritise my visits to the gym to fit in with my busy schedule.

During the past few months I’ve noted with interest the changes and growth in me. My experience of working out at the gym has had many positive results for me in so many ways; ways I wasn’t expecting. When I was in Hong Kong, I stepped out of my comfort zone by  learning, not only  how to work the machines and discover how they would help the different parts of my body, but, to actually be vulnerable and show my low levels of fitness to others; not a pretty sight. It’s truly been a lesson in humility for me, that’s for sure.

However, things did not stop there. Once I joined H2O, I thought I’d only want to use the machines and merge them into my training routine, but surprisingly, the water and land classes beckoned me. Earlier this year I endured a bout of Plantar Fasiitis and I also suffer from Osteoarthritis  (OA) in my right knee, and my Sports Podiatrist and Physiotherapist recommended Deep Water classes to help maintain some pain-free fitness. The only problem was – I had NEVER taken a fitness class before and even contemplating taking one made me feel embarrassed. If I took a class, you know – with people, real people, everyone would know just how unfit and uncoordinated I really was. However, the more I thought about it and the benefits I would receive, not to mention I was now paying for the gym and should really make the most of it, I finally weakened (or should I say strengthened, in this case) and bit the bullet.

I jumped in feet first and have not looked back.

I’ve made  use of all the classes I am interested in. I know I must look silly at times when trying to get in positions I never dreamed I’d ever put certain body parts in, but I just laugh it off and smile to myself. Haven’t I come a long way! The instructors are very friendly and encouraging, but they also keep me accountable and push me when the going gets tough. Getting through the tough sessions can be a little painful and enduring, but then there are periods of rest that rejuvenate me as quick as a wink. The sessions are designed to push and stretch the body, but at the appropriate moment, a rest time takes place and it really doesn’t take the body too long to respond and bounce back. The end result is a very rewarding workout that releases endorphins and makes me feel relaxed and positive about myself. The effort is so worth the reward afterwards. I have to be honest, there are still times when I get a little nervous before some of my classes, but once I get started, my focus is all about the workout and I forget all the things that worry me. I’m pleased with myself for overcoming these anxieties and fears. I haven’t let them stop me from participating in life. This encourages me for the bigger picture of my upcoming walk through Spain. I’m sure there will be many occasions when I’ll be a little anxious or fearful about the trip. At least I know now that I can push through my doubts and know reward is waiting for me. It is these little wins at home that allow me to sense the feelings I might experience along the way of my pilgrimage and to peek through the windows of opportunity.

Another added value to participating in gym regularly is that people get to know me. At my first water class a friendly lady invited me to coffee. Some people don’t show any acknowledgment of my existence, but the general rule is that most people, at the very least will give me a smile, while others are more than happy to have a chat. After attending gym these past couple of months, it is nice to walk into the place and have people recognise me, smile and say hello. It feels very welcoming and I gain a warm sense of belonging. There is community and I’m glad I’m a part of it.

A couple of years ago, I turned 50 and I wasn’t very impressed. I’m still working on my attempt to grow old gracefully. I must admit, I pouted somewhat and wasn’t happy, but it didn’t change anything. I still turned 50. Why am I mentioning my age here, you might be wondering? It’s because I learnt something that I didn’t know when I was considering joining the gym and looking for the best deal I could find regarding gym fees.

At the time I was looking at gym memberships, a dear friend of mine asked me did I have a National Seniors Card? I raised my eyebrows and scrunched up my face and in a very indignant voice told my friend that I wasn’t old enough for that! How old did she think I was? Really? Wow, I thought. I must be looking way worse than I’d ever imagined. However, my friend then went on to explain. She was not referring to the official Seniors Card you get at age 65. She was referring to the National Seniors card that you can get once you turn 50! It gives you discounts to lots of participating places like movie theatres, holiday packages, insurances, plus many more offers,  including gyms. Now, she had my attention. I looked into this National Seniors Card and discovered lots. The best news for me was that it shaved a substantial amount of money off my H2O gym membership because they participate in this program, as well as the rebate I received from my private health cover. Suddenly, becoming a member of a gym looked a lot more exciting.

Joining a gym AND committing to it, are two different things. I am happy to say, I have joined the gym AND I am committed to it. I am a changed person, for the better and that makes me happy. I know now that I will stay committed because I enjoy the feelings and rewards it brings me. I am glad I am a person who has not grown so set in their ways that I can’t make changes to help me grow and develop into something far greater than I started out. It is important to me to be a life long learner and I am always looking for ways to improve myself. I love challenges and thrive on them.

Yesterday when I was at the gym, I glanced up at the swimming pool’s white board. Someone had boldly written a quote on it. It stated:

A negative attitude is like a flat tyre…

if you don’t change it ~ you won’t go anywhere

This really spoke to me. I’m not sure of its origin  ~ but they are wise words. We all experience a negative attitude from time to time, but it takes real courage to turn it into a positive and go somewhere.

My hope is, if you have taken the time to read down to here, that it has not been a waste of time for you. I hope there is something in my words that you can take away with you and apply them to your own ‘mountain’. And, if you know of someone who is on a pilgrimage of their own that might be encouraged or enjoy reading this blog, please share.

Buen Camino

Occasionally after a serious workout, I might indulge in one of these little babies.

Positive: Occasionally after a serious workout, I might indulge in one of these little babies.

Behind the Doors of an Asian Gym

I love it when life throws curve balls. I stand my ground, stretch out and face the music head on.

I’m fourteen months out from my Camino experience and I’ve been training for the past six months from zero to something respectable. I started back in October 2012 and lost 10 kilograms and two dress sizes in the first four months from increasing my walking regularity and distance, introducing weight training and  making some life changing decisions regarding my eating patterns. I eat much more healthily, I’ve cut out adding sugar to my diet, although I have not cut foods that already have sugar added to them, and I have alcohol free periods, although I haven’t cut alcohol altogether. I am not being a ‘Nazi‘ about my decisions, but I do place restrictions upon myself. I am trying very hard to enjoy my training and dieting experience and so I limit my restrictions to moderation. I know I will enjoy a much higher success rate if I allow myself treats occasionally and approach everything with complete flexibility in order to participate in life with some sense of normality. Portion size plays a very important role in the changes I have made as well. I just know that it’s important to adopt a common sense approach.

Friends and colleagues have already started to notice the significant changes in the way I look. Losing the weight and the two dress sizes is very positive progress and of course people are curious. What is interesting to note after I’m asked how I did it, is sometimes the response of the person who asks. At first they are curious and almost seem like they are waiting for a miracle cure sort of answer, but when I tell them I achieved my results through hard work (exercise) and making some important changes to my diet and lifestyle, I can almost see their eyes glaze over. You see, there is no quick fix. It is hard work to get back in shape and the worse you’ve let yourself go, the harder it is. There are no miracles. But, if you apply yourself and stay focused and endure the times when you feel challenged the most, you will be greatly rewarded.

At my age and stage in life, I found the weight did not suddenly ‘fall’ off me. In fact, the weight has been very slow to go, but because of the type of exercise (walking, weights and stretching), I lost the dress sizes because my body toned up. I sincerely believe that you must restrict what you put in your mouth if you want to lose weight, and sometimes this can be the real challenging part.

In my last post I mentioned that I am currently holidaying in Hong Kong. I came here by myself so I could assist my N2D (Number 2 Daughter) as she recovered from hip surgery.

The challenge for me was to make sure I continued my training, even if it was somehow modified. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage that but once I got here I was able to formulate a plan. Where I am staying with N2D and SIS (Something in Something) is totally different to my home. I am blessed to live on acreage and within a short distance, I have a lovely safe space to do my long distance walks and I have some home gym equipment to help me with my weights program. Here, there are hi-rises everywhere that look identical to each other. Nothing is familiar and knowing what my sense of direction is like, I felt rather reluctant to explore anywhere by myself, let alone go for any long distance walks.

However, I couldn’t let anything stop me. It is imperative that I continue with a training and fitness program, so I decided:  When in Rome do as the Romans do. For me, this meant that I would need to attend a real gym where real people would be working out too and yes, they would see how unfit and uncoordinated I’d be. Oh, the shock and the horror of it all!

I have never been a member of any gym before and have never ventured inside a gym, other than for maybe a quick look once, a hundred years ago. N2D and SIS live in a hotel that has a gym and the guests have full access to all the hotel’s facilities. SIS was quick to assure me that everything would be okay and it was soon decided that I would accompany SIS and N2D to the gym.

I was very nervous, but I succumbed to their encouragement and decided to give it my best shot. I reasoned with myself, what better place? It’s not like it’s at home where I might bump into someone I know and my secret of just how unfit I was would be revealed.

At least here, there is a huge turnover of hotel guests. I’d just be another number and would blend in quiet well. That was my assumption, at least.

The realisation hit me that first time to the gym that most of the participants were Asian men and we didn’t really ‘blend’ in as well as I’d expected or hoped for. All of the machines were foreign to me and they didn’t come with instructions. I begun my first workout on a cross trainer (after N2D gave me some quick instructions) and watched how others used the rest of the equipment.

It’s funny how quickly you stop worrying about what others think. Everyone is working at their own level and they aren’t worrying about me after all, I found out. I’ve attended the gym now almost every day of the ten days I’ve been in Hong Kong and I am happy to report that it didn’t take me too long to learn how to work the machines. I’m not an expert, but I can use most of the machines now without feeling like an idiot.

I encountered a number of interesting incidents during my time at the gym, but one that sticks out to me was the occasion when I wanted to use one of the treadmills for the first time. I climbed aboard and studied the dashboard. I must have been there for a little while and no doubt had a puzzled look upon my face. Nothing much was happening until this elderly Asian gentleman came to my rescue. He showed me how to turn the machine on, which I did and he went back to what he was doing, but then came over for a second time to show me how to increase the speed and some other functions. He was a really sweet man and had very little English. I think he could tell how appreciative I was for his help; the universal language: body language, big smiles and appreciative nods of gratitude.

Using this equipment has allowed me to really work to develop my strength and cardio vascular areas of fitness. I am really sold on going to the gym. I never dreamed I would enjoy it as much as I have. We don’t really blend in, but it doesn’t really matter. Everyone who goes to the gym is there for a reason; to get fit and improve their health and strength.

I am including some photos of the variety of equipment I tackled over the past ten days.


Deb working out on the cross trainer – 30 minute program


Working on the upper body is very important to build strength when it comes time to carry your back pack


Only worked out once on this cycle during my visits to the gym


Really enjoyed working out on the rowing machine


Working on my upper body

Stuff Happens – A Minor Set Back

For about ten days before my long walk to South Bank, I’d been experiencing intermittent pain under the arch in the heel area of my right foot. While I mostly tolerated the pain that radiated from my heel for most of my 37 km walk, the last few kilometres were quite excruciating to be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the walk and I realised that whatever was happening in my foot was totally aggravated from the long haul. Lucky for me I am only in training and it’s the perfect time to have a break down if you really must have one.

By Sunday morning I could barely walk on that foot. I’d arranged to meet a girlfriend to go and check out the large outdoor outlets located at Fortitude Valley. I put on a brave front and drove into the city after collecting her. We got there early and found a park. No shops were open by then so we regarded the time as perfect to grab a coffee before hitting the stores.

I had hoped to buy a pair of new hiking boots. After all my research, I knew the boots I wanted and had been quite excited, however, both my feet were really swollen and the pain in my right heel would not abate. It really put a dampener on the trip for me. I could only manage hobbling around in my comfy thongs for padding. Earlier that morning I couldn’t put my foot down on the floor boards or tiles at home. I needed cushioning.

I’d been on the Internet to Google ‘pain in heels’ and suspected that I was suffering from Plantar Faseiitis, but I wasn’t certain. From the description, it certainly seemed like it might be that.

I booked an appointment with a local Sports Podiatrist and had to wait until the following Wednesday. In the meantime I had a rest from walking on the Sunday, but did two 7 km walks on Monday and Tuesday. My feet were still rather swollen, but I managed the walks at a slower pace and in some pain.

On the Wednesday I made an executive decision not to get an early walk in before visiting the Podiatrist, but to wait and see what the diagnosis of my foot was. As suspected, I was diagnosed with Plantar Faseiitis. At least now I knew what I was dealing with. Next was to develop a management plan.

My podiatrist, Will, was most understanding of the goals I had set in order to attain my main goal of walking in Spain. As I feared, he asked me to take ten days off walking, which to be honest would drive me nuts. I tried to negotiate with him, but he remained adamant.

So, how does one treat Plantar Faseiitis?

After a thorough diagnostic look at the way I walk and the condition of the muscles around my foot and calves, it was discovered that my calf muscles were really super tight. I never stretch; a big no, no apparently. I didn’t realise how important stretching is to walkers as much as any other sport. In my head I tell myself it is only a walk. Walking is not too hard to do, is it? But apparently, and I have recently learnt this: walkers and joggers are prone to constriction of muscles, making everything tight. Go figure…I learn something every day.

  • So, Will gave me some beaut stretches to do to help tame my calf muscles.
  • A friend of mine who was a high level gymnast had mentioned to me to use a rolling pin to roll my arch to help iron out the tightness in the muscles under my arch, but Will went one better, asking me to freeze a couple of small water bottles and use these in the same method as the rolling pin.
  • After close examination of my poor old Nikes, Will suggested I invest in a more appropriate joggers to assist my feet with superior support. I was keen for new joggers, so I didn’t protest.
  • Rest for 10 days – no walking…but Will said I could ‘smash up’ on the exercise bike to keep my cardio on target. After the ten days, he told me, I could recommence my walking (between 3-4 kms every other day).
  • ICE my foot.
  • Voltaren Gel – applied to my foot and wrapped in Glad Wrap in the evenings to trap the alcohol in the liniment.

I felt sure I could manage all this and probably more. I do have to be careful because Will said this condition can sometimes hang around for a couple of years! I was horrified to hear this, so it made me determined to follow Will’s expert advice.

My Progress:

Day 8 – update

I have been working out every day on the exercise bike doing 20 kms as well as stretching, weights, sit ups and women’s push ups. I am serious about getting my fitness levels up and running and every day I feel I’m gaining strength and feeling great. The first few days I pined for my daily walk but I’m happy with the way my exercise regime is going for the moment. I only have till Saturday to go and then I can do my first walk.

I’d like to introduce you to my one of my new joggers:

New joggers

ASICS Nimbus 14

ASICS Nimbus 14 gel

I think it is going to be sweet wearing these babies. They are so light and supportive. Can’t wait to give them a whirl.

I’m also watching what I eat. I’ve cut out sugar completely and I am alcohol free while trying to shift some kilograms.

So, all in all, I am viewing this set back through positive eyes. What I feared the most (needing to rest the walking) happened, but from that, it forced me to try new ways to work on my fitness levels. Ways I probably, in all honesty, wouldn’t have bothered giving a go.

I am happy and looking forward to visiting with Will next Wednesday for his report on my progress. I think Will is excited for me about my walk through Spain and is happy to be part of my team. I’d also like to thank my mates (you know who you are) for giving me tips from rolling pins, advice from a scientific viewpoint and tips on the best way to do weights, push ups and sit ups.

I’m excited.

So, until next time…

Buen Camino

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