Last night, the boyfriend and I took a twilight jog up the mountain to the Peak through the forest that (still) grows on its Western slopes. On a side track that leads up from the Chi Fu housing estate and into the “wild” we were amazed to come across a family of wild boar, foraging through the woods as the sun dipped down, in the heart of one of the world’s most densely-packed cities.
It was a little scary too, as the animals have a fearsome reputation for attacking lone hikers, especially when their young are concerned. The animals we could see were not yet fully grown, and their protector was no doubt somewhere nearby, if unseen. As the night started to fall, and we found ourselves lost on a strange path far from our previous trips, I pictured us stuck on the mountain at night, when its other inhabitants come out to claim what is theirs…
But the boars soon disappeared into the undergrowth and we ran – and sometimes walked, panting – onwards, up curving paths through the gathering darkness, surrounded by the jungle-like sounds of water flowing over rocks, frogs and insects croaking, and larger creatures still (the boar) rustling in the forests.
At one point we found ourselves on a debris-strewn path right below the mansions of the Peak’s rich, their garden walls above us lined with razor wire and barbs, but the path then plunged back into the forest and soon all traces of civilization receded again. I thought of the thousands of eyes in the undergrowth, spiders no doubt watching us as we passed, invisible without headtorches.
Sometimes, a cool breeze would blow down over the mountain, or a view would open up to the twinkling lights of boats on the sea below, or we would plunge into the shadows of trees where it was hard to see even two metres ahead – and then suddenly we were up at the Peak, with its milling crowds and 7-11s and bright lights, before heading back down into the dark and restless wood.