Youthful Souls

Lots of countries out there require their countrymen to serve in the army when reaching their adulthood. While Hong Kong does not have such compulsory act, I have always thought that the army training maybe a good way to train up the body. There’re general observations or even speculations suggest that among Asians, we local raised Hong Kongese do not look as masculine as the other surrounding asian countries. It does raise own eyebrows and wonder if there’s any supporting ground.

Volleyball
Footwork

During my years in secondary school, there’s one and only one thing that I recall over and over again. It’s the volleyball team and the coach.

Hang Power
Warm up

Our coach was the staff teacher of our secondary school. He lectures on geography and physical education. His first year of class was also our first year in school. So that’s how our school lives all began.

The first volleyball team of the school was formed during our last three years (out of five years before our graduation). It was our coach’s ambitious leisure activity project. The truth was we never had an official size volleyball court. And so we were the genie pigs. The team was assembled from his personal pick from the P.E. lessons. And there were about 15 of us from the same grade.

Our former jerseys
Coach

When I said it was an ambitious project of our coach, we learned that through the army-like physical training and practice, 3 days per week after school. He made us feel like an actual athlete, kept us busy. There’s so much devotion our coach had put into us. I cannot think of another person in life again who would do that day-in, day-out with a group of people. Maybe there’s, but not that I’d see in my life again. I still remember moments he had McDonald’s takeaway with us before the Saturday practices.

Volleyball gave us a meaning, a sense of belonging to school. Our unofficial setting of volleyball court was a miniature scale of our society; just like Hong Kong, a place where the land supply is limited. We learned and adapted.

There’s so much spirit and synergism in the team. All thanks to the faith that coach had in for us. All the effort we put into had turned into a champion trophy. And that’s the only effort that I’d only find through a team, not a prodigy.

Strike
The Block
On and Off the court
Little help

I re-connected back again with them from one of the former teammates’ wedding last year end. Months later, we thought it’s time to do a reunion on volleyball court. 20 years later, all of them are professionals and have a career. Some of them are married or scheduled for wedding. Other than that, actually not much has changed. I still find the true souls in them. We’re still very youthful.

The Forever Classmates

We were in the same class (or if not the same class the same grade), some of us used to play basketball together during lunch, after school. We used to BS together just about anything between class. We used to be around with each other. It’s not that we have a common thing together. It’s more like we have a common memory that brought us together.

Thin and Thick
River
Tunnel
Rest

I have to admit after nearly 20 years, we still look and talk so youthful. I admire there’s still a thin bond to keep this group alive, doing gatherings whenever possible. It used to be a once a year thing and lately there’re more plans (not necessarily happening).

Interestingly, I have re-connected with another group of schoolmates i associated with while I was with the volleyball team. Some of them were also my classmates but we rarely hang out besides practice. Without surprise just like our group, they’re still hanging out with each other; except they seem have wilder memories than us.

Whether I’m attached to a particular group of friends or not, it’s always out of my greatest sincere to meet up and it’s a group effort to make time.

We all have one life to live. So why not?

There has been several occasions where we gather for Cantonese style Japanese dinner buffet. There has been a request to go cycling on our group chat. The last time we did cycling was back then in secondary school. It was not a bad idea to catch up with some outdoor activity.

We met so early away from the city area, even earlier than our normal workdays.

Friends
Beach
Shaded Trees
Off the bike

From Tai Wai, we cycled to Tai Po. Then we decided we should do some more. The ride continued to Tai Mei Tuk (the lovely cycling, watersports and outdoor BBQ destination) for our lunch at a Thai restaurant – 21km from where we started.

The redness on our sunburned arms remained one of the highlights of our outing.

Ordinary People

The most inspiring people can be just anybody around you, given if you have a chance to know them. They do not have to be the big shots or their glamorous second generations, they do not have to be the best in what they pursuit, they do not have to be the wisest person. Somehow you realize they exist for a reason with a special personal trait. At the end of the day, they’re just ordinary people like any of us. Working day to day, then head home to see the family and love ones, eat and rest.

Thanks to the wonderful folks from The Loop, we’re making it like an on-going project. I have chances to visit these ordinary people and get to hear their stories. From that, I get to know more about my home in a broader sense. Frankly, I’d never need to meet these people or even travel to these remote places in my life. Maybe I’m just so disconnected to the city and its people. All the things I often hear gets filtered and re-written by the media. While it’s all different when we make each visit. It’s thousand times better to witness every words they say, the little habits they do, the tones they set, the presence they hold, I get my first personal digest from it.

Life is too short to swim in our own circles of boundaries, especially knowing mines’ are outrageously small. That’s why It’s incredibly satisfying to listen to their life journeys, some are adventurous, some are doing good deeds, some are fueling their dreams, some are staying true to their ancestral village and some are just getting back on the right track.

Read the full stories of these people:
https://www.theloophk.com/display/display-hk-homies/

Credits: Alan P. / The Loop HK

 

Slip and Fall

Landscape

Recently I discovered that I had not experienced my usual respiratory allergy in the morning. Thanks to staying active from my hikes. This allergy somehow came back (it may just be a seasonal thing), maybe this made me persist and went on a hike in weather I swear I’d not dare trying. It was the relatively high temperature, the scattered shower, high humidity, the bugs (little spiders and their webs)…

The terrain of this trail was already a bit of a challenge for hikers like me, which’s not so seasoned and not so newish. With rain and humidity, it can turn everything upside down, literally. Sand can turn into mud and mud is just as slippery as the icy snow. I took this adventure and learned my lesson on my early third or forth hike last year, except this time after months later, it’s worse.

After reaching these 600m peaks, there was a narrow, steep downhill muddy path. I had to pull on the tall grass and bushes every so often just to get my balance. I got through a few steep ones. Toward the end of this path, I finally slipped and fell. I laughed at myself while on the ground with mud on my hands shortly after I fell. I said to myself ‘I finally fell.’ I wasn’t hurt, not even a scratch.

Waterfall

Am I a mad man? The entire hike journey I’ve only met 1 person on the way. And he does not even live in the city.

No, it was never as dramatic as ‘Man vs. Wild’. It’s only that I grew up in the city and never received any scout training. That’s why hiking off-road with the these conditions mentioned has always been a test to my survival mindset. I treat it as a problem solving game. I did tackle all these environmental obstacles one by one, very much continuously on every step i take.

Celebration of nature

And to be fair, the easy trails can just be a brainless hangout with your friends.

I’ve Missed

The heat is catching up as we gradually move into the summery season. I kept telling myself that there’s not that many hikes I could do until the end of the year. I’m intentionally avoiding steep hikes unless I feel like I needed a bit of stress relief. Until the last rainy week that had practically ruined my weekends, I realize how much i’ve missed being in the outdoor, how much I’ve missed discovering the uncharted territories, how much I’ve missed just being stupid.

I like the idea of just being stupid, do some of the things that not everyone would normally do in routine; but then when I tell someone what I’d done, It’s turns into your own identifier – a topic starter.

Being curiously stupid unleashes possibilities. I appreciate these people who inherit this mentality. They’re willing to accept things we normally don’t. They’re committed in an ideology. Whether it’s a personal pursuit of work travel without calculating the successive rate, or take on a labor intensive job with rewarding salary, . They know what they’re after. It’s a world they see differently.

I was never a risk taker in any way. I am too stupid to be stupid enough.

Calling of Nature
Falling Water
Danger - Cliff
Catching the Breath

Extraordinary

I always find my way to appreciate things that I accidentally come across. I’d love to know about the background story, whether it’s historic reason or a personal story. This mindset mostly came from music during my early teenage. Ever since when I came across with Channel V, MTV, HMV, I was sold to all foreign music. The more I listened to, the more bands, artists and genres i discovered. As I get more mature, I’m willing to explore genres that used to not attuned to. My current music collection varies from jazz to heavy metal, but I still have Madonna’s and Jewel’s older albums. I can appreciate wines while coffee is also my thing because of how accessible they are. And without a surprise, I finally fell in love with Chinese tea recently. If I was never helping my friend on his startup tea company, I’d have never sampled tea and got me curious to discover for more. All these occurrences I took it as my fate. When I look back, it has to happen with no any other way.

It’s my belief that personal experience is the strongest hard earned reward, knowledge comes second. I’m all about exploring it on my own. Others would take up lessons, look for buddies, be friend with the experts (at some point seek advises from experts is inevitable). Others would think it’s a rather lonely path, I however think it’s an opportunity to find your inner self.

Tea can be just as technical as wine and coffee culture. Thanks to the surge of new wave tea culture in Taiwan. They made tea that’s as accessible as ordering a Latte. They believe the old fashioned tea ceremony way was overrated (very true), instead they modernized the entire presentation. I always love the execution part whether it’s old or new. I love their high attitude oolong green tea, the character is unlike anything from Mainland China. The ‘perfume’ releases simply extraordinary. It’s love, that’s what I call.

Blossom
Blooming
Rain Drop
Pouring

Gravitational Dream

All the people in life tells you to dream. When you’re young, they tell you to dream big and follow your path. When you become an adult, dream does not necessarily come to you and you start to take up responsibility. Maybe your dream is too big, or maybe it’s such a little dream that’s to build a family and own your own property. Some people succeed in their ‘goal’. Whatever the case might be, never stop dreaming until your last breath. Dream is vague, dream is beautiful, dream is really a force, a gravity that keeps you moving forward. It’s always there but you don’t ever need to think about it. It does not matter if your dream would ever come true. The truth is, it’s only a destination, you may end up to another which you’d be happy and satisfied about.

The media in Hong Kong loves asking if you’re living happily and come up with an index that displays how likely you’re with the norm. It’s so unfortunate that everything these days have to tie to money and political motives. I think the next biggest ‘unrealistic‘ question to all of us is: Can we live happily with what you already have? One may suggest no one ever earns enough in this globalized, consumeristic society. There’s always the need to catch up the deficit when someone is ahead of you in life. The fact is there’s always someone ahead of you. I often get called the laid back type of person. It’s not that I do not care or lazy, I may just have my attention somewhere else. The more you appreciate your existence and learn to satisfy what you have, the more you could take away that unwanted competitive mindset. That is, when it’s unwanted.

I’m who I’m, a type of personality grew up in a common environment where many have encountered. The differences are our family background, buddies, education, teachers, mentors, media, life experiences from childhood to early adulthood that make up what we are. Can we all somewhat live equally happy?

Ripple
Plant
Grass
Lost
Toward
One after another