My heart beat delightfully faster and the humid air flowed into my body in giant waves with ease.
A dense, gloomy layer of mist rested over the city of Hong Kong. I felt the warm, humid air, thick in my lungs, as I stepped onto the old-fashioned tram and took a seat next to an open window. Trees arched over the old wooden tracks, which ascended vertically up the mountain before disappearing into the grey fog. The tram filled with people, families and children, tourists and couples, until all of the worn, wooden bench seats were filled with excited, chattering riders. The tram jolted into motion, and began slowly climbing the invisible peak. My heart leapt with anticipation. My sister-in-law had been talking non-stop about the view from the top of the Peak Tram all day and I could not wait to stand atop the giant mountain and get a heavenly view of all of Hong Kong, Victoria Harbor and Kowloon. Standing on the streets of Hong Kong, I felt like an ant, lost in a giant maze of winding streets surrounded on all sides by ominously towering skyscrapers; I was excited to look down on those same streets and buildings, with an omniscient view, as if I was some giant conqueror looking proudly down on their winnings.
The ravenous mist surrounded the small tram, obscuring any sight of the track ahead or the beautiful city below. As it climbed continually higher, wisps of fog began to pour in the open panel windows until it seemed that even the people sitting next to me were obscured in a milky haze. The tram jolted slightly to the right and began to ascend more vertically. I gripped my hand rest, feeling as if I released my grip I would plummet backwards into the murky mist. I could tell that, in the absence of the mist, the view from the tram, overlooking all of Hong Kong City and across Victoria Harbor to Kowloon, would be breathtaking, but I couldn’t catch even the smallest glimpse of the nearest skyscraper, let alone the harbor and Kowloon. A speck of anticipated disappointment rose in my chest; would I rise above the consuming fog or be lost in it? The tram jolted to a stop, and as I disembarked, tiny droplets of rain began to sprinkle the ground.
A large shopping mall and eating emporium was located at the top of the peak. I entered the building and took the stairs to the third floor observation deck. I opened the door and was immediately bombarded by large swirling raindrops and powerful gusts of wind. I bowed my head and walked out across the deck, the wet wind whipping my face and exposed arms. The edge of the deck was barely visible from the door, and when I finally reached the observation point, the famous view of Victoria Harbor was completely obscured. I looked straight ahead over a tremendous lake of whirling mist. As I looked down, I followed the vertical rock wall of the peak until it disappeared into the rippling fog. I felt isolated, separated from the loud, bustling city, undistinguishable thousands of feet below me. I waited for the rush of disappointment to overcome me, but my stomach remained firmly in place, absent of any sinking feeling. The scene produced a dream-like sensation; there was something fantastic and magical about standing at the precipice of this voluminous grey, crashing sea of fog. I closed my eyes and let the rain splatter my face, the wind pushing me away from the edge railing with tremendous force. I held on for dear life, anchoring myself to the side railing. There was no one else on the deck; I stood alone in the midst of the storm, hanging on for dear life. An exhilarating sensation surged up from my toes, through my body and out the top of my head. My heart beat delightfully faster and the humid air flowed into my body in giant waves with ease. I opened my eyes and let go, turning away from the precipice. The wind surged up behind me, like an enormous tidal wave about to crash over my head. I spread of my arms, and let the colossal gust carry me back to the door.
I sat inside with my sister-in-law, enjoyed a hot tea and thickly sliced toast dripping with sweet condensed milk (a beloved Hong Kong snack.) As I sat in the diner booth, mildly damp and laughing over tea and biscuits, I thought over my adventure in the storm. I had not gotten to experience the majesty and glory of looking over Hong Kong, Victoria Harbor and Kowloon, but I had not been left empty handed. Standing on the edge of the peak, peering over the precipice and gazing out across the vast sea of fog, the wind bellowing in my face and the rain spitting on my cheeks, I was inspired. Alone, I was able to stand in the middle of the storm and anchor myself; the feeling was heartening and empowering. But even more exhilarating and life confirming was feeling the panicked, instinctual need to hold on, to maintain control, and releasing my grip. Being abroad and experiencing new fears, new challenges and new disappointments, and enduring them, teaches you a new type of victory; it teaches you to have faith; faith in people, faith that you can take care of yourself; faith that if you let go and turn yourself over to the adventure, the world will not disappoint you and you will end up right where you are supposed to be.
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