Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Green space: Our walk about day

After many weeks of heat and extreme humidity (like 90%), the weather has suddenly changed. While still warm and indeed summer like, the humidity is much decreased. It is possible to be outside and it is possible to be walking outside. And so that is what we did this weekend. Like anywhere, there are crowds out walking on the holidays but on regular weekend or week days, the trails are pretty empty.

Our first walk with kids was from Deep Water Bay Beach towards Repulse Bay Beach. Both of these beaches are on our side of Hong Kong Island, the south side. Deep Water Bay Beach, like most of the beaches, has a roped off swimming area, many lifeguards, showers and a BBQ area. We got there around 10 am, which counts as early morning in late sleeping Hong Kong culture. It was only us and a few elderly Chinese getting in their morning swim. We walked on a paved path towards Repulse Bay, which is a bigger jazzier beach. So jazzy, it had a Pizza Hut which of course we ate at. Oddly, the entire Pizza Hut staff was already dressed for Halloween and many other patrons were only dressed in swimsuits. By the time we finished lunch, tourist buses from Mainland China were pulling in to the beach. The kids will surely be featured in many vacation photo albums and I am pleased that my two Mandarin language lessons allowed me to accurately state the kids’ ages.

Our second walk was sans kids and much steeper, though still entirely paved. We live very close ( a 5 minute taxi ride) to the southern part of Tai Tam Country Park. Our southern section connects to the larger Tai Tam Park, which altogether makes up about 1/5 of the land mass on Hong Kong Island (and an even greater percentage of the island’s green space). There are 4 reservoirs in the Park and I think we hiked past the Tai Tam Upper Reservoir and the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir. Signs stated that the reservoirs were conceived in the 1870’s, stalled because of economic depression and then started again in the 1880’s. To increase capacity, various extras were added until around 1917. The signs mentioned various engineering firsts accomplished here in Hong Kong but I forget them all and only remember dates.

In World War II, this Tai Tam area was the scene of a big battle, where the British fought the invading Japanese. Wartime forts and camps are still found throughout the park. After the war, the area was totally burned out and destroyed. Recent conservation efforts have resulted in the densely forested and green park we enjoy today. Pine and acacia trees cover the rolling hills, which include a couple hills over 400 meters tall. It seems fitting of course that our main hiking view is of the hills called Tai Tam Twins. The area really is beautiful and lush. Hong Kong’s two major hiking trails, the Wilson Trail and the Hong Kong trail, both cross through Tai Tam Country Park.

After we went uphill for awhile, we came to a reservoir dam’s wall and a lone man resting against the wall. On one side we could gaze down to the water and on the other to a wooded valley. We were just about to keep going when the man started to feed the fish. Actually he threw a whole loaf of bread into the water. The ensuing feeding frenzy was incredible. Little fish pushed the bread into shallow water so that the huge golden carp could not manage to get over to it. Little fish took bites and then hopped away on top of the water so that other fish could not steal their bread. The entire loaf was gone inside of one minute. I don’t think I will ever be able to casually feed Clifford our beta fish again.


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