As a brief aside before I start this thing, I would just like to say how hilarious I find it that myspace offers categories for your blog, but not quite as hilarious as the choice that we are given to
categorize compartmentalize everything in our lives. Anyhow, I have already used Pets and Animals for my Lunar New Year stuff… which would still be appropos here because of the friends I have made, and the gecko that is STILL living under this computer I am using… but I went with something more… ridiculous. And so on with the show…
Alright, I know this is a temporary stopover for me, and I know also that one comes to Asia to experience all that is Asian, so I have moments of weirdness when I say: 1) I live on Lamma Island (not so Asian); and 2) I love living on Lamma Island.
But, I don’t really care that much because both are true. And the truth does set the soul free; the magic is it turns out truth is completely personal, subjective, and experiential. Mine is not yours, or theirs, or anyone else’s. It is just how it is to be me. Today. Right now. And today, right now, I am living in an amazing old house at the top of a hill, in a jungle teeming with birds, on a strange little island next to Hong Kong. There are about 5,000 people living on Lamma Island, give or take, of which around 10 are non-Chinese. There are several villages around the island though most people live in Yung Shue Wan (including Pak Kok and Tai Peng), and Sok Kwu Wan. There are no cars allowed on the island, five really good bars on the main street and some great restaurants, both Asian and Western.
A hideous effort at cartography, but helpful none the less:1. Tin Hau Temple2. Hung Shing Yeah Beach – the main beach
4. Lo So Shing Beach – the quiet beach
5. Ling Kok Shan – mountain (250m)
6. Shek Pai Wan
7. Mount Stenhouse – mountain (353m)
My Lamma introduction had several phases. I knew Lamma before I knew Hong Kong in some respects. But not really. I came to Hong Kong at all because my friend Rodney suggested that it might be a better fit for me than some of the other places that were offering jobs. He has spent nearly twenty years in Asia and I trust him implicitly.
I came to Hong Kong.
I love Hong Kong, but I would never want to live there, you know? It is like what I hear people say about places all the time, “Oh yeah. I loved ______________ but I could never live there.” Well, that is one kind of love. Then there is the instant connection with people and places that exists when you randomly find yourself plopped down in a place you are so clearly supposed to be at that very moment in time (for me, like Leucadia, Verona, Crete, Zihuatenejo… and Lamma). I am there because I am here.
I heard the rumors about Lamma from my Chinese friends. “Drugs,” “Weirdos,” “Dangerous,” “So far!” And while all that may be true It doesn’t seem that strange to me. One Aussie told me moving to Lamma would be stupid because, “How would I get all my shit out there?” And “The ferry is such a drag, baby.” Well, in answer to the question, and response the statement: it is time to ditch my shit anyhow, and I freaking LOVE the ferries. And honestly, I think it is easier to jump right in on Lamma for a number of reasons:
1) I have friends here who are cool and understand me and do not think what I am about to do is in anyway strange, odd, unreasonable, silly, ridiculous they think it is exactly right because they believe in doing things anything.
2) No one questions you here if you are here, you are just here and that is all good.
3) I have a landlord/housemate who has totally taken me under his wing and given me a perfect set up for my time on Lamma.
4) I am by the sea. The freaking SOUTH CHINA SEA. That is bad ass.
5) There is some damn good food here.
6) You walk everywhere on this island as there are no cars allowed and so it is inherently social and friendly.
7) The birds are my alarm clock.
8) The ferry keeps my schedule.
9) I sleep here.
10) I dream here.
The island is beautiful and strange. Sometimes you can be walking along and seriously you could be on Crete or some random Italian hill town, or a Mexican beach town. And then you see something so small, so silly, so Chinese. You remember this is part of Little China. Here I am. Comforts of home complimented by the bizarre and exotic. The banyan trees are amazing. The birds are loud. The frogs are not so smart, but I have yet to squish one. The vistas are unique, the largest power station in HK is here… in fact little Lamma provides HK with all of its power. The weather is dramatic. Sunny. Windy. Stormy. Clear.
Freighter on the South China Sea.
Hong Kong has the busiest harbor in the world and the ships are able to save money on duties by offloading from sea rather than the docks so there are always hundreds of ships hanging out there.
The Lamma Ferry Pier, viewed from The Green Cottage Cafe.
On the walk towards Lo So Shing Beach… and you can get down there.
I am so glad to be here and having some time to think. I am ready to have some time. No kindergarteners. No pressure. No bad vibes. They say there are three things that make you a local on Lamma: Long Lunch (check); The Gravity Pocket (sadly, check twice); The Walk of Shame (proudly, not yet) I say this to a fault these days but, it is all good. I will leave Lamma in a matter of weeks (20 days for those of us who are counting.) But should I return to Hong Kong I will come here. There is no better place to be in these parts in my estimation.
The feng shui pond at the entrance to the house. No mongrel koi here.
Inside the house…
Yung Shue Wan: The Village.
Looking south along the waterfront side of Main Street.
In case you are lost.
Main Street view from the Deli Lamma (#3 on my list of favorite bars.)
Dinner. It appears a couple of them are trying to escape. Every once in a while some of the Buddhists come down and buy a bunch of the fish and then put them back in the harbor. Everyone is okay with it, the merchants get their money and don’t have to cook, the Buddhists get their karma, and the fish, well you know… it beats getting cooked.
She is out here everyday with the longest fishing pole I have ever seen.
I have made good friends here the way that you make friends when you travel; fast, firm, and honest in a way that you cannot be in other situations. I have had my plans and dreams reaffirmed by people who understand that the way forward is supposed to be personal, unsettling, and unusual.
There is Peter, my British Colonial landlord/housemate… totally adorable, generous and kind and giving me a new appreciation for the qualities of the British that have been making me insane since my arrival in Hong Kong. Rodney, who has a clarity about him that is startling and inspiring and who lets me attend the dharma group even if what I am really doing is nursing a hangover and I don’t really know how to meditate. Maria the beautiful sister I was meant to have (if I didn’t like being an only child so much.) Andy from South London who has seen so many amazing things. Fuckin’ Kate L. who is so completely kick ass, a sharper wit would be hard to find, and God Damn… I love her for it. Cath, who suffered a much more lasting gravity pocket than I did and had the good sense to remember it is no big deal we all do what we need to do when we need to do it, her husband Daz who always makes me laugh and knows how to skin up in a hurry. Kelly the Aussie who knows how to get down and always shows up with hot guys… Dickstock with the vest that goes tick tock… In a matter of weeks I have met more people and made more friends than I did in a decade in Northern Nevada.
My Peter at the Island Bar.
My lovely sister Maria at a bottle shop on Main Street (Thank you Andy for the photo…)
Breakfast at the Deli.
Cath, Kell, Fuckin’ Kate, me, beautiful Nicola… at the bar.
One is never enough. Interpret that as you wish.
Katie the Cutie.
Sham…. the man with the Plan. Still wondering who ordered a Fosters. I think it was this weird kid who came in wearing his Yale Water Polo jacket… yeah, Peter Schwartz (his name was on the jacket), so you went to Yale?… Bush did too sucka!
Party… Lamma style. I love that someone is reaching for food in front of my camera.
Kelly and birthday girl Karen.
Nicola and Lousie T.
Cath pouring at the BBQ. I just love a little Vueve Cliquot with my grilled meat.
Look, Alistair made a nut roast. Wtf?
Cath and Daz with Kelly and Kate.
Daz, Kate and Andy post BBQ…
I have always felt instant connections with people who embrace the unusual. Lamma is a life less ordinary and that is exactly the point. Here you can do as you like and as lovely Maria reminded me just the other day, “No one can have anything on you that you don’t have on yourself.” Bravo.
And so there you have it my first month on Lamma. Actually today is exactly my one month anniversary.