Saturday, April 10, 2004

HK blog.

Item from the present: Ann has acquired two extremely important skills. One, and it may not seem so important if you've never had a toddler around, she can lift her bottle up at such an angle that she can drink from it without help. With such gusto sometimes, she swings back like a jammin' saxophonist.

Also, she has a command of the word "Mama." Not quite an accurate command, since she'll say it to me, or even Lilly, but the word is clear, and she knows she's using it to signify something. Thousands more words to go, kid.

Item from the past: Hong Kong. The former colony, now a special administrative region, is more than just the city famed in posters. It also includes other islands -- like the sparsely populated Lamma Island -- as well as semi-rural areas in the New Territories, near China proper.

April 14, 1994.

Been watching a bit of TV in the evenings, but nothing too special. Two English-language channels in Hong Kong, and one of them shows Barney & Friends. I could stand it for only a few minutes, long enough to hear the story of the ant and the grasshopper. [2004 update: I still hate that purple dinosaur.]

But we've been out and about as well. On Lamma Island we walked from the beach at Hung Shing Yeh all the way around the island. The path crosses some grassy, rocky slopes. Some parts of the island had been burned by a recent wildfire -- black and nearly barren. A little further was a lush area, then a waterfront path smelling of seaweed and debris. Eventually we reached Sok Kwu Wan, a small village. It still has some fishermen and their sampans. At first we thought that people might live on these boats, but after watching them tool around the water from the waterside deck of Mandarin Seafood Restaurant, one of a row of eateries facing the bay, we decided that they merely worked on the little boats. In any case, it seemed like an old man's game. The youth of the village probable aspire to office jobs in Victoria, or at least service jobs in Kowloon.

April 17, 1994.

On the 15th we took a little trip out to the New Territories. I had ambitions of hiking a section of the MacLehose Trail, and I still do. But instead we spent the day walking a series of related trails -- "family walks," in the jargon of the Hong Kong park service. To get there, you take the subway all the way to the end of the line at Tsuen Wan, New Territories, a big mess o' danchi and construction sites, and everyday Chinese. Less English and fewer cars than the more urban parts of the colony.

From there, you take a microbus to Shing Mun Country Park, a nice green spot around a reservoir dug in the '30s, according to signs. We followed a path around the reservoir and into the forest a ways. There were almost no other people, though I'm sure this would be different on weekends. We walked under a double layer of shade -- tall trees, and a high thin layer of clouds, so it was cool walking weather, despite being just south of the Tropic of Cancer. Later in the afternoon, we did walk on the MacLehose Trail, Section 6, and climbed a hill to the Shing Mun Redoubt, which was part of the doomed effort to defend Hong Kong in '41. Still in evidence are long, crumbling tunnels of concrete, dug through the top of a hill. The entrances have fanciful names, London streets it seems. Later occupants have added graffiti and litter to the ruins, and nature is slowly eating at the concrete.


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