Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fei Ngo Shan (飛鵝山)

After having lunch with my wife in Kowloon City, I had planned to make a run to SaiKung through Clear Water Bay Road.  I had actually done that a few times before and was not overly excited.  At least I had a memorable start when I walked past some gigantic shark body parts. 

When I reached the top of the steep slope up Clear Water Bay Road, I realised that was actually the beginning of Fei Ngo Shan Road.  There I decided to go up Fei Ngo Shan instead. The path was so steep that I was walking most of the way up. 

Soon I stumbled upon the (path leading to the) grave of Dr. Sun Yat Sin’s mother.  I remember coming here with my father a long time ago.  We even managed to catch some fresh water shrimps.  

Then I realised that, looking north-east, I can see Sai Kung at the back of Fei Ngo Shan.  

After looping around to the front of Fei Ngo Shan, I came to the lookout facing Kowloon and Victoria Harbour, to the south-west.  This is the popular spot where numerous couples park their cars and …  

They all said they came for the view, which admittedly was really good, even on a cloudy day. 

I turned towards Tse Wan Shan along Shatin Pass Road.  

Along the way, I was rewarded by the changing views of Kowloon and Victoria Harbour, from multiple vantage points.  

I ended up where I started, in Kowloon City. It was an exhausting run (and hike for long stretches up Fei Ngo Shan).  But it was also hugely rewarding. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Aberdeen Technical School

In the midst of all the negativity in the political situation in Hong Kong, our class of secondary school had a very warm reunion at the old school.  Some of us entered the school in 1966, hence we have known each other for 50 years.  When we graduated from Form 5 in 1973, the class had ~80 students.  We managed to round up 42 of us for the reunion.  

We were a boarding school for underprivileged students then, with very strict rules.  We went home only 4 times a year.  Most of the time we were confined within school walls.   Outside the window of our dormitory, across the street, was a police station.  Beyond the station and up the hill was a seminary.  Standing at the window and looking out, it would appeared that little has changed.  Our school, the police station, and the seminary are all still there.  Even the window has not changed.  But we have changed a lot, in 50 years.  

Back then, we had an excellent Physics teacher, whose passion and ingenuity ignited out interest in Physics and engineering.  One went on to become a researcher for NASA in the USA.  Another became a university professor in engineering.  Many became engineers and industrialists.  And our Physics teacher?  He went on to win many awards, and a lot of minds.  

We played soccer every weekday, and on Saturday afternoon we hiked all over Hong Kong Island.  Sometimes we walked to Stanley from Aberdeen and back.  Most of us remain physically fit.  Several still play soccer regularly.  Some run marathons, in our 60s.  We all hike when we can.  

We went to mass everyday back then.  Most were baptised.  Many still attend church regularly.  ATS was, and still is, run by the Salesian Brothers, an order started by Don Bosco, to care for the underprivileged.  The fathers and brothers taught us, played soccer with us, hiked with us, and lived with us.  They played a big part in making us who we are.  

We are forever grateful.  And we try to imitate Don Bosco in the way we live.  Some are sponsoring young people to attend university in China.  Some are mentoring young people in the church.  Some take university students on service-learning trips to foreign countries.  When Father Lam told us that the recently-reestablished boarding program has a serious deficit, one donated one million on the spot.  

Amid all the negativity in our society, we are so happy to be part of a community that strives to be positive and constructive.  

Aberdeen Technical School, we salute you!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Negativity in Public Life

It is quite depressing reading political news these days.  It seems the government and politicians in Hong Kong are spending more time stopping and destroying things rather than constructing and creating things.  First they refuse to make the elections more open and democratic.  Then they try ever more draconian means to stop some of the elected legislators from taking office.  Some of the young politicians themselves are also disappointing, putting more effort in juvenile antics to disrupt rather than building support to make real changes.  

Across the Pacific Ocean, the candidates from both major parties spend more time making personal attacks on each other, rather than argue about ways to make the nation and the world better places.  

If these are the leaders of some of the most advanced societies in the world, what hope do we have for the present?  If these are the more visible role models for our children, what hope do they have for the future?

Behind the rhetoric on both sides of the Pacific, there are even more worrying trends.  Many Americans want USA to continue to dominate the world.  On this side of the Pacific, many Chinese want China to rise up to take USA’s place.  Some are even predicting war is inevitable between the two.  Buffoonery and stupidity of politicians can be cured by replacing them.  However, if the population in each nation are so bent on making their own nation the most powerful, conflict is inevitable.  That’s one reason why nationalism can be so insidious. 

Friday, October 21, 2016


Under Typhoon Signal Number 8, just before the typhoon move pass Hong Kong, I went out to take a look.  

I could literally walk in the middle of Nathan Road to take a selfie.  

The waves in Victoria Harbour were bigger than usual, but not too scarily so yet.  

Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui was eerily devoid of cars.  

Nathan Road near Mongkok last looked as empty as this two years ago, at the height of Occupy Central (Mongkok). 

There was a bit of a family drama on the side walk.  A mother seemed to be trying to comfort a young man who was crying inconsolably.  He should be glad to have a mother who care.  

The wind and the rain seemed to have picked up after I arrived home. I am glad to have a home to return to. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Work with purpose

We recently did a survey on the staff of our office on the operation of the office.  The results are generally very positive and improved over last year.  There are two items, however, that bother me a little and I shared with my colleagues my thoughts on them.  

More than half of the staff feel the workload is too heavy.  We are in fact quite aware of that, and are trying hard to alleviate the problem.  Specifically, we are planning to hire 2 additional persons this year, hoping to bring the workload down to a more acceptable level.  

On the other hand, we all know that our office has achieved a lot in the past 5 years, in implementing service-learning across the university.  If we have not been working so hard, would we have achieved so much?  Not likely.  Why have we been working so hard?  It is mainly because, I think, that we believe in what we do, some of us really passionately.  For some of us, work in the office is more than just work, it is part of our purpose in life.  We are working with students in the field, learning through service, and learning to serve.  It is extremely gratifying to watch students grow right in front of your eyes.  We are designing subjects and projects so that students can serve and learn.  We are negotiating with subject teachers, administrators, NGO partners, foreign universities, so that students can serve and learn.  We are raising funds so that students can serve and learn.  We are doing tedious accounting, clerical work, and other annoying things so that students can serve and learn.  We work hard, but the work is fulfilling.  

I understand it is my responsibility to ensure that the workload it not excessive, and I should not exploit may colleagues’ good will.  And I am trying hard to do that.  

On the other hand, is it likely that we will eventually work at a leisurely pace?  It is possible.  But then, I do not think we would have achieved as much in such a short time, and the work might not be as fulfilling.  In the balance, I believe it is better to have a purpose, and to work very hard - rather than to work at a leisurely pace, living a comfortable life, with no particular purpose.  Perhaps there is a way to achieve both, to living a fulfilling life without exerting ourselves,  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Child rearing - Japanese style

Overheard in the lift lobby from two Hong Kong Chinese Si Lai 師奶(housewives), dismissively: “I don’t understand these Japanese. They let their kids run around all over the place.”  It is true that the Japanese kids in our apartment complex run in and out, up and down, often by themselves, while you seldom see the Chinese kids without adults around. 

When the Japanese mothers send their kids to the school bus in the morning, the Japanese kids typically carry their school bags on their own shoulders.  They would run around while they are waiting for the bus.  And they walk to the bus themselves. 

On the other hand, the Chinese kids of a similar age are often carried, by their mothers;  but more often, by their maids.  Many times the kid seem unconscious, or still sleeping while being carried to school.  

Many of the Japanese families do not even seem to have maids.  The mother does the cooking and takes care of the kids.  On Sunday, the father would take the kids to play baseball.  In between, the kids seem to have a license to run around in the apartment complex, riding up and down the elevators. 

What kind of persons will these respective kids grow up to be?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fantastic Figures near Black Hill 五桂山

I was walking behind my daughter A along Wilson Trail Section 3, near Black Hill (五桂山).  We were in a dense forest which blocked off the sun.  I almost jumped when I spotted something that looked like small men on the left side of the trail, no more than a few feet away.  

We looked around, and realised that we were surrounded by fantastic figures.  

Some were recognisable as figures out of Chinese legends.  Such as the Pig 豬八戒 from Travels to the West 《西遊記》.  

And 武松, who beat a tiger to death in 水滸傳》, after drinking a lot of wine.

A cowboy playing a flute. 

A huge turtle. 

And many others.  It was a little spooky stumbling upon them in a dense forest which blocked off the sun.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Microwave Reflector?

We found 2 strange looking structures along Wilson Trail Section 3.   It was near Black Hill (五桂山).  I though they were some kind of reflector, but I was not sure. 

I consulted my friends through Whatsapp, many of whom are experienced engineers.  Perhaps they are just old sign boards?  The fact they have a silvery finish and are fenced in with barbed wire make that unlikely.  Were they antennas?  There did not seem to be cables connected.  So probably not. 

Our conclusion is that that they are passive microwave reflectors.  They are probably used by TVB (Television Broadcasting Company) to relay TV signals between their production facilities in Tseung Kwan O (將軍澳) to the antennas on Tse Wan Shan (慈雲山) - because there is no direct line-of-sight between them.  

Is that what it is?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wilson Trail Section 3

Which spot affords such a view?  

My daughter A and I were looking east towards the Victoria Harbour, from the Wilson Trail Section 3.  It starts near Yau Tong (油塘).  Here you can see the tiny Sam Ka Chuen (三家村避風塘) Typhoon Shelter, right next to Lei Yue Mun (鯉魚門). 

Across the harbour, you can also see the larger Shau Ki Wan 筲箕灣 Typhoon Shelter. 

Turning to the east, another tiny Chai Wan Typhoon Shelter.

Beyond the eastern entrance to Victoria Harbour, one can see the island Tung Lung Chau 東龍洲. 

Moving onto Kowloon, the giant Tseung Kwan O 將軍澳 (Junk Bay) garbage dump and the skyscrapers sitting on the landfills.  It reminds me of the slums around the giant garbage dump at Stung Meancheay in Phnom Penh in Cambodia.  The difference, of course, is that one apartment here in Junk Bay is worth more than a whole village in Stung Meancheay. 

Junk Bay itself is now a big town with 400,000 people. 

Further along the Wilson Trail, one can see, in the west, the quarry on Anderson Road.  

Soon afterwards, we arrived at Tseng Lan Shue (井欄樹) in Sai Kung. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Filial Piety on Chung Yeung (重陽)

If filial piety is measured by how many times one goes to cemeteries for grave sweeping, then I should probably rank fairly high.  In the past 2 days, I have paid my respects at the graves of my paternal grand parents, my maternal grandparents, and my wife’s grandfather.  And I have been to 3 different cemeteries: Aberdeen, Tsuen Wan and Junk Bay.  Although, to be honest, the last one I skirted only while hiking.  

Grave sweeping is a great tradition.  It reminds us of our ancestral roots and that we should honour our parents while they are with us.  It strengthens our bonding with our relatives and social cohesion in general, …  

However, I noticed that there are many graves in these cemeteries that obviously have not been attended to for quite some time.  There are still plenty of us who are doing what we can to maintain this great tradition.  However, the reality is that it is becoming harder and harder to do so.  

To start with, many people have moved away from Hong Kong.  I also reckon that between my wife and myself, we have 2 sets of parents and 4 sets of grandparents.  When people have fewer and fewer children, there will be fewer and fewer of us to take care of the graves.  What is going to happen to this great tradition?  What is going to happen to the larger and larger number of graves?