Paragliding offers welcome escape for urbanites in Hong Kong

China 24

Paragliding offers welcome escape for urbanites in Hong Kong

The sport of paragliding has not made it to the Olympics.

But it’s reaching new heights of its own.

And it’s getting a push not only from those seeking thrills but an escape.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo has more on some gliders in Hong Kong.

When you live in one of the world’s densest urban area, relief sometimes comes in the unlikeliest of places.

“Hong Kong is a concrete jungle, it’s very crowded and there are always many people wherever you go,” said Giovanni Lam, a paraglider.  “But once you are up in the sky, you are free. It feels like there are no chains or constraints.”

Giovanni Lam is helping push paragliding’s popularity to a new level in Hong Kong. 

Crowning the city is a mountain slope high above the urban hustle and bustle.

“I was so scared at the beginning, because it was the first time, and there was nobody in front to protect me,” said Carmen Li, a paraglider.  “After taking off, my first reaction was that it was so beautiful, it was different from what we see normally.”

“The view in the sky is very different from what we see from hiking up a peak. It’s like leaping into a new world,” said another paraglider.

And it’s a world more people want to be part of, enough for the sport to be featured for the first time in last year’s Asian Games.

But things don’t always take off as they should- The wind can be a friend or foe.

Hong Kong, in particular, has fast-changing tropical weather patterns that can be disastrous.

Last year, one of Lam’s friends died after he encountered typhoon conditions while in flight.

“Any sports will have accidents, even cycling, so of course paragliding does,” said Lam.  “But paragliding just looks risky, because it flies in the sky, and people have concerns it will fall down.”

Hong Kong also has only eight approved flying areas and small landing zones.

The city’s sprawl has crept in as development has already made two landing spots unusable.

“It’s a pity that Hong Kong attaches a lot of weight to development, especially property development,” said Lam.  “It’s important that we treasure what we have now.”

Don Jung discusses extreme sports in China

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Dong Jun for more on the growing popularity of extreme sports in China. He’s the Co-founder of EI China and a sports commentator.