有緣人

Photography

Flute music played by a man in the wilderness? It sounded unimaginably crisp and I promise anyone could hear from far away distance. To me, it added meaning to where he was playing – at an abandoned village. The flourishing violet mountain flowers by a roofless house which it all covered by green moss, had all seemed come alive again. Do they call it a full circle?

Untitled

I met a hiker during the journey from Ma On Shan to Wong Tai Sin. By all means he did not look like a hiker just by visually scanning on his outfit and the gear he held. He looked more like a construction worker in his early 50s, with a wooden walking cane and a straw hat. He was singing the Cantonese tunes from the 70s. We greeted each other and he asked where I was heading. It’s not too much of a surprise to end on the same destination. He started telling me the route we were on was a major passage and he described how it was before. The further we walked, the more he explained the Taoism philosophy which he practices in. The idea of the nature correcting itself, how our body repairs, and all the coincidence happens around us are all due to the cause of Yin and Yang. He explained how he found several of his wooden canes. They were all picked up after typhoon or cut down by other men. And the canes he collected had checked out all the requirements – the protruding handle, length, weight, balance and the resemblance of human, buddha and other Chinese mystic creatures (such as dragon).

He then asked if I wished to try an off-the-grid route. I refused at first but as we approached that point, why not! It is one of those loose sand and gravel slope he led me to. I would not know there’s such route existed, as it’s behind a high retaining wall. He has even shared me a few tips when climbing down with a supporting rope.

It’s a compliment from him I supposed, he said he does not often bump into people like me, that’s willing to listen and treat stranger not quite a like stranger. On the other hand, he referred it as our fate.

Deep Thinker

Before we parted ways, he remarked on our society that’s so different from where he used to grow up from. Knowledge and ideas can be passed along to the rest of the family. How many of us know much about the medicinal use of Chinese herbs and common ingredients?  How many of us can address our relatives appropriately (in Chinese it’s more than just cousins, uncles, aunties…). All these names and knowledge, our grandmas and a few other uncles/aunties just know it all, right?

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I’m grateful my 2016 had been an add-on to the previous. Departing from the workspace which I’d stayed for 6 years was a decision that had built up over the course of 6 months. I noticed life can be different if I decided to steer the wheel. How bad can it be when I’ve got nothing to lose. I think it’s worse if I look back one day and say what if.

The Backyard

Photography

White Flowers

It has been my third hike since the my last punishing climb to the highest mountain in Lantau Island. I intentionally picked these routes on Lantau Island. I wished to remind myself that I’ll return for the challenge.

I never bother to know about the island until recently. Now, I could at least confidently point out some of the attraction sites on a map.

Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong. It’s one of the rarest location where not a lot of urbanization can be found, especially on the south and west ends. It’s mountainous and so it was designated for the country parks and conservation zones. There’s limited access to the public with only public transportation allowed (buses and taxis). A special permit is needed for the in order to drive on the closed roads which connects most attractions of the island. Only a quota of 25 would be given on each day and applicants can only apply once a month. No wonder the air feels so much fresher here!

Me, at a peak

Our famed Tai O Village in Lantau (famed as the Hong Kong version of Venice) is popular for most Hong Kongese to visit on the weekends. To me in many ways, It’s similar to most other Outlying Islands, shops, eateries, settings, etc. It gets crowded due to the limited transportation connecting back to the city and its remote geographical location (west end of Lantau). Queues are painsickening from Tung Chung after 11am and 5pm on the way back. Good thing is It’s totally avoidable if you research a little more.

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Just when you thought this much-protected island is so sacred out of our precious land or we like relating it as our ‘backyard’. Our Government has in fact rolled out a long-term proposal to develop Lantau as an outdoor activity hub. To most of our wiser minds, we quickly decoded the outdoor activity hub as a smoke screen. Obviously they intentionally leave out the housing plans (which our government is desperately needing flat lands) at this stage yet due to the opposing voice.

Sea of Mountains

It’s fair to say the face of Lantau will in stages evolve into something else. There will be more land reclamation, concrete buildings, open traffic in the coming days. There’re two questions we must ask are – ‘Are we ordinary citizens wanting all these changes?’ , ‘Is the greater good only for the large corporates, real estate developers, the wealthy elites?’

This Deep, Thus Far

Photography

Dashing

I was one of the few madmen gone far on this off-road hiking path in Tap Mun (Grass Island). The way to the highest point of the tallest mountain on the island required me ducking through the dense woods, bushes and tall grass. It’s one of those paths where I got no clear direction and hardly any distance guide with my line of sight. I would not know where I was heading until reaching the higher ground. In the end, It’s worth noting there was not much to see in terms of scenery.

In direction

The memorable part of it all was at the skirt of this mountain. It was a gloomy atmosphere, full of tree branches that were not easily bent. The ground was wet and muddy until I stepped into it while measuring a jump across the ponds of water. If it’s the Amazon, it’s exactly where the crocs find the feasts at. I’d not venture going across it. I wasted no time and got out of this swamp once I found what it seemed to be a way out, with sun beams penetrated through this dark swamp. That was my version of Man vs. Wild.

There was a price to pay and this time a bit more than the minor scratches on my arms. It’s my pair of sunglasses. I lost mine while busy figuring out my way.

Trees

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The more I think about my work life, the more I feel of an urgency to go outdoor. I somehow found myself ended up in these mini adventures. I’m lucky and native. One thing I’m certain is, if i had a companion; i would not dare going as often, this deep, thus far. 

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Getting a shade

Tap Mun was an island I wanted to explore since the beginning. The open grass land and long high cliffs along the shore remind me of the signature landscape in Ireland. That explains the other name it holds – Grass Island. Just like it sounds, it’s full of grass and plenty of cows. It’d be interesting to know how the cows ended up on this island.

Spider

My journey to Tap Mun was an expert coordination in timing, needed 2 hours to get there (which is plenty in Hong Kong). I got on a bus that runs only on Sundays/Public Holidays every 30 minutes, then a boat ride to the island that runs every hour. I later found out there were plenty of speed boats crossing between.

Me

There always have been rewards afterwards. I’d like to keep them simple – just to fulfill my stomach. A kimchi fried rice, a takeaway iced mocha and some quality sunset stroll by the waterfront in Sai Kung.