There are still almost 4 more weeks before Ching Ming Festival. But the cemeteries are already full of people on weekends. My uncle’s ashes reside at a columbarium high up the mountain in Chai Wan Cemetery. For us the younger ones, it is quite a hike but still doable. For the elderly such as my aunt, it is mission impossible. Hence we used to take a taxi, which brought us very close to the columbarium. We know from experience that the police might close the access roads. So we decided to pay our respects almost 4 weeks early this year.
But the roads are closed already on Sunday. So we had no choice but to line up to take the only minibus that was allowed to go up there. We ended up lining up for one full hour. And, at $7.20 for the 15 minute ride, it was an outrageous rip off.
For most of the ride the minibus had to share the single-lane access road with hundreds of people carrying food, papier mache offerings such as gold and silver ingots, clothing, shoes, handbags, smartphones, iPADs, etc. Fortunately, the drivers and the people were all very patient and courteous. The minibus bus driver did not honk even once throughout. By and large, Hong Kong people are first rate citizens.
After paying my respects, I decided to walk down the mountain with my father instead of waiting for another hour for the return minibus. Along the way, several private cars and one belonging to the Correctional Services passed us on the way up. One had to wonder who these people given special privileges are, and why?
The drizzle turned into a downpour, and we had to practically run down the mountain. We did have an umbrella, but we still got quite wet. At the bus stop, there were big crowds and another big mess.
I can’t help getting angry at the government officials in charge. Why didn’t they try harder to find a solution for the burial of the dead? Why did they build the columbarium high up the mountain without proper access roads? Was it simply incompetence? Or that they just didn’t care?