Experiences in Hong Kong

Feature Image Credit – Lloyd Belcher Visuals

Seeing the world and exploring what is out there is my ultimate goal in life. Am I searching for something? Not necessarily, but I always come back with something – something intangible, something that inspires me and challenges me to learn and grow.

My most recent trip to Hong Kong opened my eyes in a few ways, I found some motivation out there that has given me ideas for the future. I was in Hong Kong for the 9 Dragons 50/50 multi day race. The race consisted of a 50 mile (80K) race starting on the Friday at midnight followed by a 50km race starting on Sunday at 7:30am.

I was in Hong Kong two years ago, and I was aware and pre-warned that there were a lot of stairs however, I was dumbfounded by just how many stairs are in Hong Kong itself let alone out in the mountains. I had 2 ways I could have raced, 1) go out hard and try to hold on or 2) go out easy and reserve enough energy to push home – I chose option one and suffered the consequences, but found a respect for myself for acknowledging the pain and loving the feeling of giving everything.

Stairs stairs and more stairs in Hong Kong

I may not have won the race but it was a win for my mental state and win for gaining strength. I found something I wasn’t really looking for. On the trip home, I watched a documentary on the plane called “overfed and under nourished” about obesity in Australia. I thought back to my time in Hong Kong and how little I saw of obese people and I thought about the food I ate and watched others eat, the food that filled the menus.

This year I have started strictly following a vegan diet, no animal products and am enjoying the challenge of travel with this diet restriction (if it is a restriction) and as it turned out it’s not uncommon amongst the people on this Island. The things I noticed; breakfast is savoury with fruit to finish (noodles, vegetables, soup, chilli, herbs, meat/fish or tofu, rice, raw salad, eggs). This seemed crazy to me and not in my upbringing; but from a nutritional view-point it had everything; carbs, fats, protein, veg and fruits.

Matcha is as common as sugar. This high concentrated green tea is full in antioxidants and turns things into a green masterpiece – breads, cakes, coffees, muffins, even spaghetti. It seemed like the way we add chia seeds to everything to look healthy and then double the price, but matcha is also served as hot tea around Hong Kong and served with meals.

While there is no denying that the Hong Kong diet features heavily on meat it also uses beans and legumes. Soy in the form of tofu is the main source of vegetarian protein but red beans are used in savoury and sweet deserts giving nutrition to something that may have completely been referred to as empty calories or junk food.

I went to two well-known vegan restaurants; Mana and Home- Eat slow, live fast. It felt like another Melbourne café with sweet potato wedges, kale smoothies, turmeric lattes, falafel burgers but with some more local options of rice bowls with, sesame seeds, meat / tofu, fresh veg, pickled veg and herbs and sauces to bring it to life… in Melbourne this would be a super food bowl, in Hong Kong this was just some of the local inclusions.

I love that I can combine my love for running and my love for food, together I can experience a country to its full potential and be consumed in their pride and culture. I am so lucky to have stumbled into trail running, to find new friends that enjoy trails, enjoy new foods and cuisines that can show and teach me different things. I enjoy challenging myself and my beliefs, exploring and being constantly amazed at what I find when not looking and truly love to bring it back home and share.

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Lucy Bartholomew
Lucy Bartholomew is one of Australia's most recognised female ultra and trail runners. She's a member of Team SALOMON, SUUNTO, CLIF bar and STRAVA

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