Return to Lamma Island

The bay windows in my apartment overlook a public housing estate and a major highway route in Kowloon, where there’s always some kind of traffic jam during rush hour, and, well, where there’s always some kind of traffic even at four in the morning. It took me a while to get used to the drone outside when I first moved in, to the point that I got irritated when watching TV because I had to drag the set closer to me and turn the volume all the way up, then back down when a character starts yelling, then back up again.

The good thing about an overactive imagination and a healthy dose of disregard for reality is that as reckless as they may be, they’re still on your side in some way, and there are days when I wake up from a particularly good night’s sleep and for a couple of minutes I’m in a house by the seaside, waves beating against breakers, seagulls if I’m lucky, until the surf slowly turns back into engines rumbling below the occasional chirp of a sparrow.

It’s a public holiday today in Hong Kong so I went to Lamma Island after work yesterday and settled a bit of the sea lust. I took the open deck of the ferry, plugged in to some Olivia Ong bossa nova (which I still have mixed feelings for: I like how her perennially heartbroken voice fits what she sings but when I heard in a music store how off-key she was for two consecutive songs in a concert DVD, it’s never been the same), had my sunglasses on, my straw hat resting on my knee because I didn’t want it blown away, summer sun wondering if it should start setting and deciding against it, Hong Kong Island against a clear sky until the harbor slipped away to make way for the outlying islands.

There are no cars in Lamma Island. You walk or you cycle, or if you’re the man dropping off propane, you drive a little motorized cart. I took a walk around the Yung Shue Wan village, towards the direction of the wind turbine, until hunger (well, what else could it be) made me turn back and slip into a little Turkish kebab and pizza place for a lamb burger.

I took the ferry back, Olivia Ong not quite done yet with her repertoire, and marveled as always at the solid, diamond lights of the Hong Kong skyline. I got home, picked up a book where Bill Bryson tells me how the universe started, and fell asleep to the sensation of a boat moving up and down against the waves.

(photo by Nell)


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