Tag Archives: sea

Hong Kong day 5

Today is an early start. I have ted bean and dried mandarin soup downstairs then get the metro to central and walk to the piers to meet KK. We are going to Lamma island, a quiet island of 2 villages and a coal/ gas power station. It’s quite a choppy ride on the ferry around the west of Hong Kong island through busy the bay busy with freight ships, Macau catermarans and tiny lurching fishing boats. The view of the island and the glass towers glittering in the sun is a wonderful sight. South of Hong Kong island Lamma comes into sight with its incongruous 3 chimneys rising above the hills. Yung shue long is the larger of the 2 villages and is a cluster of narrow streets, I believed to be serene but with frequent urgent traffic of quad bike tractor type machines driven by tanned sweating locals delivering goods. We walk past numerous sea food restaurants and tanks of fish unaware that they will be chosen and plucked out for someone’s lunch. By 10.30 it is very hot and the sun is strong. We have a pit stop at a ramshackle stall with a covered seating area for some sweetened tofu custard. The old man serving is rather confused with his maths. Through KK’s eavesdropping we learn he is 86. He has an audience with some kind of visiting social worker who is rather harsh and cruel in her speech as she talks about his difficulties to the group of teenagers with her. Maybe they are her students. Quite soon an old woman appears. Evidently the wife and 82 years old. She is critical of this woman but also her husband for not clearing the tables. This ancient sprightly woman leaps to work all the time cracking jokes in hokkien with some other customers. Eventually the daughter appears and takes over. We walk a little further to hung shing ye beach. A Christian youth group are sat in a circle reading the bible on their phones. Several people are swimming. A shark net demarks the safety zone. We sit in shade by the barbecue pits. Kk isn’t too keen on sea and sand. We talk about religion. We get hungry and have to retrace our steps ending up in the bookworm cafe. The walls are full of books. Coincidentally we are sitting in front of the philosophy and theology section. We both have something South American. Mine is a plate of tortillas, and a vile green looking shake, which doesn’t taste bad. I spy a learn Cantonese book and cd and challenge KK’s comprehension of my poor pronunciation of stock phrases and numbers. I use this guide to ask for the bill.

Our walk across the island resumes. Back At the beach we stand in sweltering heat and harsh sunlight under an umbrella as KK resumes his filming of a wall of sand next to a small channel slowly collapsing. Like seven sisters or Grand Canyon he says. After 15 minutes his phone is over heating so we stop. The path across the island climbs shrubby hills revealing views of the power station. It feels a little Mediterranean. At a peak we stop at a gazebo and buy a freshly cut slice of pineapple to share and end up getting sticky. We are beginning to get bitten by mosquitoes. I point out banana trees and their phallic flowers to KK. He has not seen this before. There is another orange pod like fruit that I can’t identify. We descend into a hamlet where locals are drying grasses and down to the quiet beach of lo so shing where I have a tranquil float whilst KK paces up and down trying to avoid insects. We time our departure from the beach well as dusk falls quickly. We pass a cave full of water that is supposedly a half finished bay for kamikaze boats of the Japanese. We round a muddy estuary, pass a small temple and find ourselves in a narrow alley in sok Kwu wan lined with seafood restaurants, not so busy as it is a week day. I have a beer, KK a coke, as he likes the bottle, and we wait for the ferry. I’m feeling a bit nauseous and think I have a bit of heat stroke. I have an early night.

Prachuap day 3, Christmas Day

Happy Christmas to anyone reading this.

It’s been a slow and pleasant day, waking to the lulling sound of the tide coming in and daylight breaking. In the kitchen I bump into Rita, the old German lady staying downstairs. She’s just come back from the market and inspires me to pop out at 7.45 to get a pineapple. I also buy some bags of curry paste. Much of the morning involves eating fruit and Chinese pastries on my balcony alternating with chatting to various guests from om’s and next door. Several of them are cyclists and I’m felling inspired to maybe do an extended cycle trip one day in Thailand. JJ turns up on her bike with some delicious home made pumpkin soup. I’m full, but manage to eat it then have a nap.

When I stir myself at 1.30 the overcast warm breezy weather has changed to blue sky, hot sun and blue sea. Once again I cycle South across the airbase and to the empty beach behind it. After a blissful float in the sea and some intensive reading, I’m roused by 2 military bods who move me in. Apparently this is a restricted area. Instead I go down to ao manou where the beach is now partially in shade. The sea is shallow and a bit choppy. Ok for wading but not so floating friendly. I read and dry out, then once more, like yesterday bump into Petra the German on the mountain bike I had coveted. We cycle and chat back to town. I feel ennervated by the sea and the sun. The light is beautiful and the temperature wonderful. I would like a few more days like this. Too bad that tomorrow I have to leave.

My Christmas dinner is a huge plate of rice and assorted stir fried dishes (a lot of spinach and Chinese mushrooms) which I bought as a takeaway from the vege restaurant yesterday. Stuffed and content!

Prachuap day 2 continued.

Om's house seems to be a social hub, and I spend a clue of hours there after visiting monkey temple, city shrine, and the vege restaurant. I meet Petra, a German physiotherapist who is into cycling. Our paths cross several times later when I cycle out to wat ao noi. The conversations are backgrounded by the incessant on-repeat Christmas tunes from next door. Wat ao noi is out beyond the fishing villages and amid the extensive fish breeding pools. The cave temple with the two reclining Buddhas is nothing special, but the climb up through bourgainvillia and cacti is beautiful. The adjacent main temple building is also noteworthy, being made of dark wood and having a surrounding terrace encircled by spectacular entwined naga.

The evening takes shape when JJ invited peter and me to her friend's itaLiam restaurant. It's our Christmas party, replete with snowman deely boppers, and gifts for James, her son, and her friend's daughter. Funny how asian kids are so much more endearing than British ones. The ravioli and tiramisu aren't bad, but vastly overpriced. The conversation is animated and joyful.

Back in the seafront the tide has gone out, revealing a beach. We stop in the tuk-tuk to chat to some friends. And there I teach James some vocab. When I set off home alone along the promenade he runs after me and onto the beach, where I go for a last gasp if air. We high five several times before I go off to bed for a long looked forward to sleep.

Mirissa

After a hour lull in my hammock..it felt like drifting on the sea…I wander the beach at night and grab a cocktail. The tide washing around my table legs. The beach is quite low key, several bars, this one playing goldfrapp, a distant fire swinger. Everything has closed up on the road by about 8 pm.
I don’t feel sleepy and spend several hours changing my possible itinerary again. Sleep until 10.30 in the end. I get a whole fresh pineapple and some folded vegetable roti from a shop on the corner for breakfast. The young guy who runs the place joins me for a chat which goes on for hours.
His name is mahesh, born and bred in mirissa and his home is next door, with his mother, aged grandmother, she of one tooth, and 2 tuk tuk driving brothers. He is 24 and has learntenglish through doing this job. The guest house is newly built and looks ready for a second floor to be added. Mahesh’ dream is to have a place like this as his own. But, he earns around £150 a month. I talk to him about being patient, building himself a reputation, working on his skills. Afterallhe he is the reason I took the room here. He made me feel welcome. We have a long talk about developing economies and that his dream may be short sighted. I can see mirissa being exploited by monied big shots who will buy up, build and homogenise this place, squeezing out the small guys. He and his family should hold onto their land and house. Maybe one day a hotel group will make them an offer too good to refuse. I feel I have deflated him a little. He needs a dream, a we all do.. I’m sure there will always be a place for budget traveller guesthouses anyway. I need them, that’s for sure, and I’m not alone. I and so many others travel to be in places that are precisely different from what we experience at home. But, if money making is the over-riding factor, then he may well have to end up working for some faceless franchised operation that sucks up the local essence, repackages it and spits it out as something sanitised, familiar and profit making.
It becomes afternoon, and I take a walk. Up the steps to a little nondescript temple that shares it’s hill with a radio mast. The view is special. I carry on along the beach westwards, negotiate the narrow beach a nd rocks and find myself on some less visited beaches, lined with beached fishing boats, coconut stalls: a coconut a day keeps the doctor away, says the sign, a guy peddling massage, and a mother cadging cigarettes. I’m looking for the so called lonely beach and don’t know if I actually do find it. The guy in a store back on the road says there is no beach the way I’m heading, at least not a nice one. Opposite his store are the overgrown ruins of a colonial mansion. I cut down some dusty lanes and come out on a beach with a rocky shelf, full of pools and crazy geometric rock formations, lots of little fishes and eels skittering around. To return I climb a grassy hill studded with the ubiquitous palms bearing orange coconuts, back onto the sandy beach and wallow in the water, which surges a little too much to be relaxing. After a 30 minute read I walk back towards mirissa, breaking the walk up with a stop at the craggy outcrop I swam near the day before. This time I feel confident enough to wade out to it and climb up the top for a beautiful view of the bay. I clamber down the side where the crashing waves leave the black rock shimmering. There are scores of crabs scuttling across the rocks. I spend a while attempting to photograph them. Next, a float in the sea as sunset approaches, then I dry off watching another impromptu cricket match by the waters edge, played by local lads. Dinner is curry and rice, but the best thing is a wood apple lassi. New fruit, new flavour. Fab. As I leave for my room rain is in the air. 20 minutes later it comes pouring down. The air smells fresh, earthy, invigorating.

You are the ocean

I stand at the shore daring the tide

To come in and wash round my ankles

To draw me, suck back and leave me invigorated

Almost pulling me over

My footprints

Are obliterated by the surge of the water

It’s as if I wasn’t there

There is no trace

Only in my mind

Each flow is unique

Like the phrasing and sound of your voice

Each ebb is a flurry swirling around me

Scarring my body with memories

Of the moments of when you touched me

Only fleetingly

I stare back at your horizon

Yearning for more

For each time to be better

And stronger

And fresher

And lasting

It never is

Sometimes I watch your thrashing white surf

Glistening under the moonlight

And will it towards me

Too often it stops short

and retreats

Leaving me cheated

Then you tempt me

My god how you tempt me

What bubbles underneath?

What shores and what places have you touched and been sullied by?

Eternal or passing?

Am I the first time?

I’m scared

I would love to walk out

Away from the dry land

To be flattened by your relentless advance

And drawn under

Taken with you

Taken further away

Embraced and then smothered by your recoil

Sucked down

Enveloped

Consumed

I become one with you

I’m scared by your power

I’m scared by my weakness

I step away

I feel your spray splash on my legs and dampen my shorts

I step away

Dry land is familiar, boring, but safe

Safety is oh so boring

And it controls me

I want you to pull me in

Suck me down

And absorb me

For the first time in my life I am sure