Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lost Post #2

Ok, so this isn't technically a lost post from this blog, but it is a post from another blog that's been neglected for some time. I started a blog when we first moved here to keep family in the loop and fill them in on what life in Hong Kong was like. I spent a lot of time on the old blog and this is one of my favourite posts from the days when I didn't have a kid to write about...

Random Observations
I've started keeping a notebook with me and recording some of the beautiful, bizarre and amusing things I'm noticing about everyday life in Hong Kong. One thing in particular that astounds me is the determination shown by the government when it comes to land reclamation. Most of the local islands, including Hong Kong island itself, are mountains emerging from the sea. They're rocky, covered in thick jungle, and in places seem to be inhospitable. Chinese engineers have achieved amazing feats with their construction of a major city on the edges of this wilderness, but there are times when it seems so ridiculously futile. With the city teetering on the edge of several peaks, subsidence is clearly a problem. The solution for this is slope management, which basically involves covering slopes with concrete or a mesh type material to prevent landslides and rockfalls.

Each slope is registered and has a little plaque with an emergency hotline number on it, should you find the slope not performing its duties. Here on Lantau there is a slope that has been cemented to a height of at least 500metres. Call me crazy but the thought of that volume of concrete falling on me at great speed, frightens me more than a few trees and some dirt. To deal with runoff in the rainy season all of the slopes come fitted with drainage holes and these are a favourite place for snakes to hide out. They're also great for growing bamboo.

Mother Nature seems determined to have the last word here and there are teams of people all over the city whose job it is to maintain the slopes and trim the parks and gardens to within an inch of their lives. I've been told that such severe pruning prevents "vermin" but I get such a kick out of seeing a bright, fire engine-red hibiscus flower bursting out the top of a hedge, or a street littered with purple bauhinia flowers fallen in silent rebellion against the man with the clippers. Here on Lantau they're attempting to build a new road over the hill. The old road is apparently one of the steepest in the region and much of it is single lane. The new road has been under construction for a couple of years now and it will be a few more before it's done. I look at the construction trucks in the shadow of Lantau Peak and they look like Tonka trucks, desperately trying to tame an untameable wilderness.

I secretly hope that one day they'll realise it's all been in vain and go home, but for now I just imagine that the workers are like early explorers, hacking their way through vines and creepers, and I cheer for nature every time I see her getting her own back. On the ferry the other morning there was a cockroach, the epitome of vermin, and as disgusted as I was to see one, I smiled a little and wished him's a jungle out there.


  1. Great blog, thank you! Can I ask where that amazing concrete slope on Lantau Island is?

    1. It's along the water catchment between Cheung Sha and Shui Hau, somewhere near Tong Fuk I think.