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Feb 24 FASTER Ferries May Be the Answer!

Just in case you've missed this story in Friday's SCMP:

HKKF, the ONLY tender so far for the Central-Sok Kwu Wan and Central-Yung Shue Wan ferry service from July this year, proposed a 50% fare increase to continue the Sok Kwu Wan ferry service and about 35% fare increase for the Central-Yung Shue Wan ferry! This was obviously unacceptable to everybody, so the Transport Dept. is retendering right now, allowing the tenderers to offer only slow and less frequent (off-peak hourly service only) Lamma ferries after June this year, PLUS most likely a smaller fare increase as well, adding insults to injury! PLUS they also deleted the former new govt. requirement of offering a 2:30am and 5:30am service on weekends (see details of the report here). So everything Lamma residents wanted and hoped for from the ferry service is going down the drain!

To counter this gloomy future, Lammaite Oliver came up with a great suggestion, hoping to avoid this dire and unacceptable massive downgrade of our ferry services, see below. Open for discussion in our new Ferry routes retendered forum, voice your opinions loud and clear and constructive, please!

Oliver Armistead - Dragonboater and long-time Lammaite.

FASTER Ferries May Be the Answer!

I would like your opinion on an idea I've been thinking about.

The Transport Department has been meeting on Friday, Feb 22, to discuss the fate of our ferries.

I don't know about you but I personally don't want to lose the fast ferries - we have a pretty lousy ferry service already without it going back to the old days of 45-minute ferries and noodles with fried eggs on top (Actually, I do sort of miss those.) Please take a look at my solution to our problem, and please feel free to give me some stick if you think it has serious flaws.

CURRENT VIEW:

Rising fuel costs are making the Lamma ferry uneconomical - hence unprofitable.

Our Local District Councilors and other village elders are apparently in total opposition to any fare increases whatsoever (the term 'screaming like a stuck pig at the thought' has been used.)

The Government's solution is to reduce the frequency of the service and eliminate fast ferry services altogether so as to maintain fares at close to their present levels.

Eliminating  fast ferries also allows more operators to compete for the license.

MY VIEW:  THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX:

We actually need less ferries not more!

The ferry company uses far more more boats than it actually needs to maintain the current service. One major reason for this is they use slow ferries. The current schedule requires that there is always a ferry parked waiting in Central when one is leaving Lamma and vice versa, also the government requires additional vessels to be on standby all day.

I propose that the ferry company should be encouraged to buy MUCH FASTER FERRIES - not slower ones. Faster ferries mean that they can make the journey in far less than half an hour - they would need fewer boats overall and hence fewer crews to maintain our existing service (or even perhaps a better service).

Perhaps Govt. could even consider subsidising the initial purchase price of newer more suitable boats on a leaseback basis to the new operator. (After all didn't they do this to improve the taxi and minibus fleets.)

Fuel Costs:
From an environmental standpoint the existing ferries are a floating disaster zone. The engines they use are shockingly polluting, inefficient and painfully slow. New ferries equipped with modern hulls and efficient engines are far better.

Extend the period of licensing:
The real problem with the current scheme is that any ferry company that gets the license is very unlikely to put any serious investment in new boats if they have only three years to recoup. Buying better ferries costs serious money.  My suggestion is to either increase fares significantly or more importantly allow the licensing period to be longer than 3 years.

Alright, we would probably still need to increase fares - but at least we should start thinking our way out of the box!!!

According to the SCMP article yesterday, Sat, extending the licensing period was clearly already a consideration. The only problem is that they intend to retender once more on a three-year basis first. This is probably a mistake as (even with the hope of significant future improvement) three years of a vastly diminished service will do significant damage to the island!

I believe it would be far better to reappraise the whole system now - rather than waste time another three years.

Discuss this topic and my ideas in the Ferry routes retendered forum!

P.S. The Lamma-zine will go for a break for a few days from today, till Lamma-Gung will have recovered sufficiently from his voluntary stomach reduction operation tomorrow to continue this Lamma-zine from his Wifi laptop in hospital.

Feb 23 YOU Are All They Have

Dr John Wedderburn & Elizabeth Huang - Lamma Animal Welfare Centre:

An Invitation to LAWC's Photo Exhibition

Lamma Animal Welfare Centre is holding a Photo Exhibition titled "YOU Are All They Have" at the Fringe Club from this Wednesday onwards for a period of ten days.  The purpose of this exhibition is to spread the idea of no abandonment.  At our exhibition, there will be a series of photographs and collages to tell stories of the inseparable bond between owners and their companion animals.  Among the photos, the largest one will be a mural made up of collages of “family portraits” of owners with their 2-legged and 4-legged family members.  These owners will also be telling you what they wanted to say to their animal companion and other pet-owners.

This exhibition means a lot to us at LAWC and we hope to have your support:

Details of the exhibition:

Date: 20/02/2008 ~ 02/03/2008
Venue: The Economist Gallery, Hong Kong Fringe Club
Time: Mon - Sat, daily from noon till 10pm.


Photos from the exhibition opening, from Elizabeth's LAWC blog (in Chinese, very successful and widely read, 13 reader comments posted to her exhibition opening photo story!):

Feb 22 Risque Raunchy Rendezvous

Another first for the Lamma-zine, an original erotic fiction story posted by the Enfant Terrible, the "Devil's Advocate", the contrarian of the Lamma forums, tjungarayi. See a few excerpts below, but for the bits a bit too raunchy for this placeblog for all the family you'll have to check out our non-commercial forums: Come Play With Me. We don't want to start an Edison Chen-style scandal here in the Lamma-zine! Also, discover who's allegedly really behind the recent playground vandalism

tjungarayi - Lamma forum senior member:

Come Play With Me

Knees a' tremble with expectation I swished down a couple of glasses of Grand Marnier that steadied the butterflies for the 'rendezvous'. 'Taws a cold February so I donned a favorite red scarf, my sexy grey beret, my trusty long, black, shiny 'fuck me' boots that covered my skin-tight black nylon stockings which eventually disappeared up my short green-checked mini. Feeling warm, aglow, cozy, nose a' twitching, eyebrows plucked and having recently had a shot of vitamin B, I strutted toward my 'lammerotic' meet with that loquacious lanky dirty blonde Mandingo, that veritable cyber tiger of the Lamma forums. Switched on with my MP3, volume set to crescendo with Nancy's 'These boots are gonna walk all over you….' I thought, 'Yeah girls – eat your hearts out.'

Oh – I know - he wears khaki socks with sandals – and that's the killer. This 'studley' does what he wants – aligns the fashion firmament for others to follow. This hunk is the dreamboat benchmark that leaves others wallowing in his wake! Men despair knowing they are not worthy as he cycles past. A svelte and debonair 'gash' status that boys aspire to and old men once yearned for. He adds lustre to an otherwise glum, badly dressed Lamma-Hong Kong ferry lemming trail seen every morn and eve.

Bitch! - you say, you are digressing. Anyways, hitting main drag, those pesky same ole butterflies assailing me, eyes warily and wanly on the lookout on this cruising vigil, I keep the radar alert for the fashion guru that I had dared presumed to meet this muted starry night. The witching hour struck and I questioned my sanity in risking all, my honor, dignity, integrity, reputation and body in this risqué raunchy rendezvous. What gossip would ensue if word were to get out at the use of the 'Lamma zine' for purposes of clandestine bacchanalian trysts...

...Well take away my squeaky toys! Was that a footfall I heard. I dared not turn after being distracted by the god squad's soul canvassing on this remote isle. I needed to regain an aura of nonchalance as I turned to greet my lover for the night. With face in fixed poise I turned to meet the virtual tease of Lamma island's erotically starved women. Ohhh!, and I mean oooohhh! There he stood, weight upon his right leg and left hand in hip pocket with his shoulder length dirty blonde hair irreverently combed in that quintessential 1970 style. A twenty first century David. Immediately noticeable were his signature khaki socks that reached halfway to his knees and the tight brown sandals that encased his feet and ankles. His beard flecked with grey shadowed a lean tanned face with grey blue eyes. Time stood still as we stared at each other and I could neither breathe or move...

...As soon as they passed he led me out of the alley and back into Main street, quickly passed that shop where the funny man in a white hat sells curry fish balls and all sorts of liver, then the bar where the big blonde barmaid plays host to innumerable bulbous nosed English and Canadian barflies, and finally skirting around the playing field to the shadowed corner below the hill where the kiddies playground lies.

It was there that he threw me against the slightly sloped red and green padding that had recently been put up in the playground. With one hand he gripped his khaki shirt and tore it off, the buttons making snapping sounds as they flew apart...

(Continued in the Come Play With Me forum.)

Feb 21 Hot-Water Bottles, Not Bottled Water

Jay Scott Kanes - Author, Photojournalist, Blogger

(Text and pictures by Jay Scott Kanes)

Real communications problems rarely arise for Lamma's substantial non-Chinese minority. Most of the credit goes to the Cantonese folks who routinely demonstrate their English-speaking skills.

But unusual situations, like the recent long stretch of cold weather, can lead to misunderstandings. A few days ago, an English-speaking customer entered a store in Yung Shue Wan.

"Do you sell hot-water bottles?" she asked in a shivery voice.

"Yes, over there," the proprietor said, pointing.

The customer looked and shook her head. "No, that's bottled water."

"Yes." The proprietor pointed again.

"No, I'm asking about hot-water bottles."

"You want just bottles, not the water."

"No, hot-water bottles," the customer specified. "You fill them with hot water and put them in bed to stay warm at night."

The proprietor looked extra perplexed. No transaction ensued.

Hot-water bottles appeal in cold spells, and bottled water on hot days. Logically, Lamma's shopkeepers stock bottled water, but rarely hot-water bottles.

Earlier in Lamma's recent Big Chill, cartons with the words "Electric Heater" towered from many of the rubbish bins. Several chilly weeks later, some of the worked-to-death heaters poked above the same bins.

Even Lamma's pets coped carefully with the cold. On most days, the local dogs presented canine fashion shows, wearing multi-colored jackets or sweaters to strut along Main Street.

Indoors, even the most independent-minded cats curled up together to share body heat. In many apartments, feline heaps covered the sofas and beds.

The humans who sleep surrounded by cats enjoyed a significant advantage. Together with animal partners, they huddled under blankets and needed no hot-water bottles – yet another benefit of pets.

Clever cat-clusters conserve body heat.

Warmth-givers: a cat considers a hot-water bottle.

Bottled water's always available.

On Main Street, a mutt dresses for warmth.

Better than hot-water bottles, cats share beds on chilly nights.

Feb 20 Vacation in Queen Mary Hospital

I, Lamma-Gung, am currently residing in Queen Mary Hospital - Lamma's designated public hospital - getting prepped for an operation next Monday, Feb 25. I've been bringing the Lamma-zine to you from my bed since last Sunday via a borrowed laptop. Many thanks to the most generous Mr Anonymous! I can get online only about once or twice a day, as there's no Wifi in the ward, only outside Starbucks in the lobby.

I'll be here for another two weeks, having a preventative operation next Monday (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, if you'd like to google it). This operation will cause me to start losing loads of weight to stay healthy into the future. Due to weight loss (15 kg/34 pounds so far, before checking into the hospital) and several months of supervised exercise in the hospital gym I feel better, stronger and fitter than in many years.

I really appreciate this hospital stay as a kind of vacation so far. Sitting in bed all day, being fed and pampered, no need to cook and wash dishes, just eat, sleep, take my pills, read a lot, watch DVDs on the laptop, listen to my iPod Shuffle, and work out in the in-house gym once a day; what's not to like! So many very nice people are checking my blood pressure and blood sugar levels, 1,200-calories diet, fluid intake and outtake, my last pooping time, etc. Doesn't it all sound like a fancy, mega-expensive spa resort? And it costs only $100/day!

But this Monday, all the fun will end and they'll get serious with me, going medieval on me, cutting up to 5 holes into my belly, sticking in expensive instruments (which I have to pay for) and removing most of my stomach.

Well, I volunteered for it, so I have a very positive attitude and great confidence. Wish me good luck and a speedy recovery. The Lamma-zine's daily schedule might potentially, maybe, perhaps be interrupted for a number of days while I'll be in intensive care, drugged up and on a fluids-only diet...

Feb 19Free Lamma Tourist Guide & Map

The updated Lamma Island tourist guide has just been released by the Islands District Council. Some quotes from the guide:

"The island is very peaceful and tranquil, with nice and friendly people living in 19 villages."

"The beautiful natural scenery and fresh air attracts more and more western expatriates coming to live on the island."

"...streets are lines with dainty restaurants...a gourmet paradise."

"Hung Shing Ye Beach...with fine and smooth sand, while the sea water is clean and clear."

Typical touristy fluff, but mostly true. Click on the map above to see one complete A3-size page of the 2-page foldable tourist guide. To see the backside, you'll have to pick it up yourself from our City Hall (Rural Council building opposite HSBC) or from some restaurants. Then you can learn more about "meeting the Green turtles on Sham Wan beach" (which haven't been spotted there for the last 4 years and it would be illegal to approach them.) It's also intensively promoting Lamma Winds as the main tourist attraction, but no mention of any future regular bus service up there yet, fortunately.

Anyway, it's a nice, colourful and FREE guide, so pick up a few for your visiting friends and family!

Feb 18Temple Puppets Making Sign Language

An amazingly wide array of courses are being offered at the Lamma Activities Centre, from puppet making to sign language, from Muay Thai to Baby Ballet. Some of the classes and seminars are even for free! This quite recent wonderful community initiative is growing by leaps and bounds, increasing their number of teachers, classes and students.

Click on the individual posters above to learn more and check out their website.

Feb 17Unicorn Dancing Through the Village

Yesterday, Yung Shue Wan Village was reverberating and echoing from the deafening noise of drums and firecrackers, going on for hours. It was a unicorn dance troupe (Law Shan Pai Martial Arts Association) going from business to business, from restaurant to restaurant, blessing them for good luck and great business in the Lunar New Year, "eating" the salad and the Lai See packages (with sizable donations) put out on a small table in front of each establishment.

Swarms of hobby shutterbugs were out and about, even a professional videographer was present filming the very noisy but very happy festivities. Unusually uniformed, I wasn't aware of the event in advance and didn't have my *real* camera (Nikon D80) with me, just returning from town. So all these bad photos below are from my camera phone and definitely not up to my standard. Sorry.

If some of the many photographers out there would like to add their much better photos here, they're most welcome! Click on Email to the Editor in the weekday header of any Lamma-zine story!

P.S. This is the first Lamma-zine story ever brought to you directly from Queen Mary Hospital. The Lamma-zine will be written, photo-processed and formatted in my bed on a borrowed laptop and published via PCCW Wifi from outside the Starbucks in the lobby.

I'll be here for at least another two weeks, but more about that later. As long as you see daily Lamma-zine stories appearing no need to worry about me and my health (yet)!  ;-)

Feb 16Buses to Windturbine?

Hongkong Electric - Public Affairs Dept.

As you probably know, one letter appeared in today's (Saturday, 16 Feb 2008) SCMP. While we will be writing to SCMP to clarify, I wish to solicit your support in putting the record straight on your website, maybe in a more prominent position. Some residents have copied us their objections to the Lands Department, and after hearing our reply, are satisfied with our clarification.

I'm sorry that our application has created such misunderstanding but please be assured that there is no question of HK Electric running a "minibus service" to Lamma Winds. What we are applying to Lands Department now is for a permit that would allow us vehicular access along the cable route on a need basis.

While all visitors are invited to walk up to Lamma Winds, we reckon there may be a need to provide transportation for those physically challenged, or elderly who maynot be able to cope with the whole trip, both ways. In addition, we need to cater for local and overseas visitors who have very tight schedules. A permit will also facilitate contingency arrangements for special events like our annual Smart Power Campaign open days when an estimated 1,000 students would walk up to the station in 2 days. With a van on standby, we could provide speedy assistance for these students just in case. We don't envisage the need to use this more than a few times a year.

We're aware of the benefits of electric vehicle, but I'm afraid it may not have the necessary power to go uphill knowing how steep certain sections along the cable route are. While we would continue to explore, I hope you do understand the situation now.

It all started with a notice posted on the village main noticeboard opposite HSBC, that HK Electric was planning a bus service from the Power Station to the Lamma Winds windturbine. I posted the notice and map in our Environmental forum before Lunar New Year, Feb 6, under the heading of Light Buses to Windturbine? Click right to enlarge them. I asked HK Electric right away for an explanation, receiving it the very same day and also posting it in the forum:

"I wish to clarify that we do not have any plans to run bus services to and from the wind turbine station. We conduct visits for various stakeholders to the wind turbine station and all visitors will be invited to reach the station on foot.

"Transportation will only be considered if absolutely necessary, for example for visitors who are physically challenged."

I thought this would settle this issue to the satisfaction of most residents and the forum discussion died down after the above statement on Feb 6 - but it didn't remain dead...

This topic revived with a vengeance, causing a little firestorm of emails going around Lamma, in  the two days before the deadline for objections to the permission, Feb 14. I got almost ten emails from various people about this topic and many of them were sent and cc-ed to many others. I even got a concerned phone call (since I've posted my phone number at the top of the home page now for urgent Lamma-zine news).

All these people hadn't seen the forum and were worried about the same issues already discussed in the forum before Lunar New Year, not having seen HK Electric's reply above either which addressed the major fear of people about a regular or frequent bus service. The objection period ended on Feb 14 and I assume that quite a number of objections have been emailed to the Lands Dept. these last two days.

Today, well-known Lammaite and man-about-town Frazer McGilvray had his detailed objection letter to the SCM Post prominently published. I'll post it as soon as I can get a hold of it in digital format (SCMP Website down today from 5-9pm). And then I received the above email from Hongkong Electric for immediate publication.

And so this little local saga continues... and you can follow it in our Light Buses to Windturbine? forum...

Feb 15Village Vandals & Prowlers

Jay Scott Kanes - Author, Photojournalist, Blogger

(Text and pictures by Jay Scott Kanes)

For more details and to discuss this story, see Playground Vandalism forum.

Low-Crime or Not, Village Has Prowlers

The few thousand people living on Lamma Island often view themselves as hidden away on a tropical paradise, an island without crime. Seeing the crowded, polluted and shyster-riddled big city on nearby Hong Kong Island makes us extra smug. But do we deceive ourselves and live in a false paradise?

Lately, we've shivered in our unheated, concrete apartments while enduring the coldest spell in many decades. Week after week, the temperature seldom rises much over 10 degrees Celsius. We wear many sweaters, but the chills persist. The Canadian North, even at -40, feels much better, at least indoors.

So the "tropical island" loses its lustre, and more Hong Kong Island smog seems to drift this way too. At least we still have the low crime rate? Or do we?

Often I've looked out my office window in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma's largest village, and spotted young prowlers, trespassing teenagers, on the neighboring rooftops. They climb however possible, even shimmying burglar-like along drainage pipes. Once on the roofs, they walk, run or jump to adjoining buildings and nearby ones. Ominously, they peer onto balconies and scrutinize the windows of taller buildings. Are these youngsters training for lives as hardened criminals?

Most buildings in Yung Shue Wan look structurally sound, but the rooftops involved, over one-storey homes, appear weak, even flimsy. They're for shelter, not rooftop parades. Even if the trespassers mean no harm, they may cause damage. It's easy to imagine them crashing through into someone's house.

Another Lamma Islander has noticed crime too and wrote about it on this Website's forums:

"It didn't take long for the newly renovated playground to be vandalized. A number of padded boards near the 'bouncy dolphin' have been slashed with a blade of some sort…. I often go to the playground with my kids. We waited a long time for the renovation, so I was outraged to see that some infantile idiot had spoiled it for everyone else. While there on Saturday, I asked a few older kids if they'd heard who was responsible, and they all gave me the same name. I knew the lad they'd mentioned and approached him. He denied responsibility (obviously), but said someone else had already accused him."

Maybe there's no such thing as a crime-free village. But mostly, Lamma Island needs for the sunshine to return. Then its people of all ages should feel better about everything.

Prowler tramps along a 'delicate' roof.

Results of vandalism tower above the 'bouncy dolphin'.

Nasty knife-work:
the damaged playground wall.

Feb 14Romantic Dinner in B&B

Valentine's Day Dinner in B&B Restaurant (a Lamma-zine advertiser), together with Lamma-Por. A few pictures say more than a thousand words about this absolutely splendid and oh-so-delicious romantic feast...

Queenie - Master Chef Ramond, the best Western-style cook on Lamma - Danny

Feb 13Valentine's Day Menus

A little preview of Valentine's Day dinner specials in Yung Shue Wan.
These menus have been submitted by the restaurants themselves
(click to enlarge, B&B is a Lamma-zine advertiser).
Any more restaurants with a special menu?

Waterfront Rest. - B&B Restaurant

Feb 12Power Drumming on Power Station Beach

Sunday, Jan 20, after 5pm, Power Station Beach:  Cool dude Makha
and his (almost) weekly drum circle. Everybody's welcome to join in!

Feb 11 Lammaites...

Quoting from my latest Lamma-zine email newsletter (free subscriptions):

"So let's check out what we Lammaites have been up to recently. There's such an amazingly wide range of fascinating and talented people living in our little island community. Fortunately for the Lamma-zine, many of them don't mind a little free publicity for their pet projects, exciting activities and good causes. A few recent highlights:

- A ferry full of music-loving Lammaites - getting Clockenflapped out
- More music-loving Lammaites - grooving above the Central ferry pier
- Dave the Artistic Genius - dazzling us with his Notable Accomplishments
- Christie the Child Prodigy - presenting his point of view on water pollution
- Nick the Official Court Music Reviewer - reviewing up a cyberdelic storm
- Kelly the Junior Art Jammer - getting a really huge buzz
- Gavin the Jovial Host - blowing our socks off
- NicBud the Photographer of the Month - showing off Quintessential Lamma
- Reverend Stephen Wong Kung Kim - opening the Lamma Mission Center
- Doctor John - enlightening us on Lamma animal issues
- Eric Petanque - inviting all to the HK Int'l Boulodrome in Tai Peng
- Captain Gina Meana - outpinking, outpaddling and outpartying

...and what's Lamma-Gung been up to recently, besides all his usual hubris, hubbub, hullabaloo and hoopla?  Well, find out, visit the website and our active Chinese and English forums at http://Lamma.com.hk/forum..."

Let's display a few recent photos of Lammaites I took or got emailed! Send me more photos of Lammaites if you'd like to see them in the Lamma-zine sometime soon (with their permission, of course)!
Some of my own photos below *might* be "artsy-fied" for my upcoming LammaCelebrityCam II solo exhibition in a Lan Kwai Fong gallery.

Tavis & family - Anonymous on the Clockenflap ferry - Gavin caught in the flashlight - Lara clutching her Dragonboating paddle (photo from Fit! HK)

Vernon, 80+ years old, volunteering to teach disabled youngsters (photo by anon) -
Guess who? Yes, Nick in an ancient Lamma pantomime (photo by anon) -
Paul Lau the Butterfly Man with his red bike

Jenny of Holiday Mood Rest. - 4 local youngsters (photo by Steve Cray)-
Mr Jones, the chunky hunk of love! (photo by LAP)

Feb 10 Willow's Song

Angela Leary - Media Manager of Animals Asia Foundation:

(Text and pictures by Angela Leary and Jill Robinson)

Lamma resident Angela Leary had a tough few days last week as she followed the surgery, seeming recovery and death of the bear she adopted through Animals Asia's Moon Bear Rescue project.

Willow, the middle-aged bear had spent 10 years in a coffin-sized cage on a bile farm before starting his new life at AAF's sanctuary in Chengdu, Sichuan in February 2004. His death from liver cancer was almost certainly the result of his brutal treatment on the farm.

AAF Founder and CEO Jill Robinson was with Willow at the end. From AAF's website, here is her blog of those final hours:


Goodbye, gentle Willow - Friday, Feb 1, 2008, 2:55pm

I still believe in miracles, but today the miracle went to someone else. As we held Willow's paws, while Heather injected the fluid that would end his life, we wept. It hardly seems a week ago to the day when we were all so hopeful as this brave bear was into his third day of recovering from the massive tumour removed from his liver.

But the warning bells sounded just two days ago as vets Heather and Lara alerted us all to the bright-yellow bile seeping from his surgical wound. Knowing how invasive bile is....seeing bears arriving from the farms suffering from the final impacts of peritonitis, we knew the situation was grim. For his part, Willow didn't seem to know anything at all in this last week of his life except that he was thoroughly enjoying an array of fruity medicated shakes, ever-changing toys to play with and the endless loving care of his human friends just willing him to live.

Now seeing Willow on the surgery table for another exploratory operation, the news was exactly as we'd feared. Although the surgical site where the liver tumour was removed had completely healed over, the tumours' legacy had begun a cycle in his body that was now impossible to heal. As staff on site sadly trailed over to say their goodbyes, to hold his soft, warm paws one last time, our hospital staff prepared for the next few hours of recording his death. I'll leave it to Heather's own words for summing up:

"On post mortem, it showed that the bile leakage came from an inflamed area on the left side of Willow's liver. We suspect that the tumour cells remaining in his liver had infiltrated his bile duct, blocking the drainage of bile from the liver into the intestines and causing a build-up of bile, which resulted in the rupture on the left-hand side."

Ironically, if the bile hadn't seeped through his surgical wound, it would have continued evading his body, and would ultimately have led to the full-blown and very painful peritonitis, which is killing these bears on the farms.

Last night I fed him two fruit gums and smiled as he took the first – a green one – and began investigating something obviously never enjoyed before. A few cautious, but interested, licks before setting the sweet down onto the back of his paw – plate-like – as he had a few sniffs and decided that, yes, it was quite safe to eat. The next – orange this time – saw exactly the same routine before he settled down to suck happily with all the quiet relish of a small and contented child.

This afternoon as we say goodbye to Willow and send his spirit to the sky, in his grave among his favourite toys and food will be a single yellow "moon crescent" fruit gum for him to explore and enjoy as he starts his new journey and leaves a world where he was loved and respected. We also sent him off with a CD of his very own song, which was written and recorded by our wonderful Aussie supporter, Bernard Curry. You can click to listen to "Willow's Song".

One person missing at his funeral was his sponsor – our own Media Manager, Angela in Hong Kong. Devastated by the death of her beloved bear, Angela has written some words in memory of her beautiful Willow.

"I gave you a name that spoke of your beauty, your grace; of China and the West. I gave you a name that spoke of the unspeakable – your past, your sorrow, our shame. You gave me so much more – a lesson, not yet learned.

I think of you and feel the earnest brush of your tongue, so grateful for the fruit I fed you, so careful not to hurt my hand. You forgave the unforgivable and tried to teach me to do the same. So now I'll wear your fur in a locket, a reminder of all you meant, and still mean.

Weep no more gentle Willow. Take your place next to the rushing stream and let the good earth warm your soul. And sleep your deep, bear sleep. It's going to be a long winter this year."

And now, with Willow's friends lying lazily out in their enclosures on a sunny and bitterly cold day, where the sky is blue and the clouds sometimes froth into images of bears tumbling on their backs, we smile through our sadness as life goes on.

Feb 9 Free Children's Party in New Holiday Mood Rest.

Mrs. Santa Claus, a.k.a. Sharon - Co-owner of The Island Bar:

(Text by Sharon, pictures by Dan Peterson, her hubby)

Creating much jollity at the Holiday Mood on Main Street, Ricky, the jolly restaurateur hosted a free Children's Party for the children of Lamma last Friday, 1st Feb.  With various mums and helpers in attendance, the children, aged from quite little to early teens, enjoyed various creative activities using paper, glue and such, as well as musical bumps, musical statues and pass the orange under the chin.

Ricky provided a delightful repast, perfect for little tummies hungry from school or simply the cold weather!  Chicken wings and chips were greedily chomped along with a good selection of tasty, healthy snacks, all finished off with a special Chinese dessert. (The bean curd in particular was absolutely wonderful!

The party finished on a high note with pass-the-parcel, which was obviously a new activity for some of the children in attendance.  The entire party passed with much gaiety on the part of the children and hilarity from the adults.  All in all, we estimate over 40 children popped in either to stay or just to enjoy the good food on offer.

Ricky, you found a great way to bring together Lamma children of all nationalities.  Thank you very much from the Lamma community!

Feb 8 Simon Li My Passion for Lamma

Simon Li - Lammaite Blogger and Photographer of the Month:

(Text & pictures by Simon Li, click to enlarge)

I love the life here and have made many new friends

It all began when Lamma-Gung posted a little comment on my blog that I had used a historic map from his website, without any credit or link. I explained that I didn't recall where I had downloaded the map from as I often download stuff at light speed.

Then Lamma-Gung browsed the many photos and galleries in my blog and liked what he saw. So he surprised me by asking by email if I'd be interested in becoming Photographer of the Month in the Lamma-zine.

Well, why not?

I moved to Lamma almost four years ago. I love the life here and have made many new friends. I'm keeping a blog Live on Lamma and it serves as an outlet for my passion for Lamma. I use it to show my friends how great it is to live here. You simply cannot find a cheap and good place in Hong Kong and at the same time find things worth taking pictures of.

I used to live in town in Shatin, My property management company recently held a photo competition, collecting photos about the "estate". Only a few people submitted any photos. I personally think there is nothing interesting to shoot there. But on Lamma, everyone can be a great photographer! As the previous "Photographer of the Month" wrote: "Lamma speaks for itself, no words needed."

There are numerous events and locations on Lamma where you can shoot great pictures. e.g. kids playing on the beach, Lamma Fun Day every year, the short and easy hiking road to Lamma Winds, and even from your own rooftop (if you're as lucky as me.) An occasional visit to Lamma would never be enough to capture the true spirit of Lamma. You have to live here yourself and get a real taste of it!

Feb 7Fireworks Over Yung Shue Wan Harbour

Yung Shue Wan Harbour shortly after midnight this morning, shot by L-G from a Sha Po Village rooftop. Who needs the *other* little firework over Victoria Harbour tomorrow night!  (Composite of 10 long-exposure photos, click to enlarge.)

Feb 6Kung Hei Fat Choy to All Readers!

Click above for a musical and Flash-animated version of this e-card for you, plus a lot more CNY interactive fun!

The e-card is courtesy of the website I launched over 12.5 years ago, the largest and most successful site I've ever webmastered and and managed. It was the very first Chinese New Year I'd been promoting to HK tourists via the Internet, the last Year of the Rat, 1996! I'm feeling sooo old sometimes, definitely like an ancient, grizzled veteran of the Internet age...

For more CNY-in-HK info and entertainment, click below:

Feb 5Colourful Banners Decorating the Village

Chinese New Year-related banners (click to enlarge) have been popping up all over the village, announcing various activities like the Lunar NY Singing Carnival on Feb 19, noon-3pm, VV Parking Lot, outside Ngau Kee Rest. vis-a-vis the Deli Lamma. Other banners are wishing us Kung Hei Fat Choy and other good tidings.

It would be nice if at least some of them would occasionally be in English or at least bilingual, as most of us non-Chinese readers also love to celebrate the Chinese New Year season and even prefer it to Christmas, like myself!

Feb 4For New Western & Local Families

Feb 3Green Turtles on Lamma on Their Way out

Dr. Andy Cornish - Conservation Director - WWF Hong Kong:

(pictures from Wikipedia, added by L-G)

Green Turtle, Horseshoe Crab and Chinese Bahaba
in Deep Trouble
  
[WWF press release: Nov 15, 2007]

Chelonia mydas on a Hawaiian coral reef.

...WWF's Species Status Report found the three species in dire need of attention if they are not to go extinct in Hong Kong waters: the Green turtle, Chinese Bahaba, and Horseshoe crab. The Report, which reviewed data across the past three years since "Ocean's 10" was launched, reveals for instance that Green turtles have not come back to the only known regularly used nesting beach at Sham Wan on Lamma Island for four consecutive years. This indicates that the current generation nesting there are close to the end. Despite rare nestings that have occurred in the past two years at other beaches, these last survivors are unlikely to be able to maintain a stable population in Hong Kong.

"These Ancient Mariners are in desperate straits in Hong Kong. There's a good chance we're watching them going extinct right in front of our eyes, which would be such a sad moment for Hong Kong. It may not be too late but we've got to see urgent and major conservation efforts in the next few years," noted Dr. Andy Cornish, Conservation Director, of WWF Hong Kong....

..."The results from our review of the "Ocean's 10" species" are truly shocking. Major species are disappearing right here, right now while the government twiddles its thumbs and dabbles in half-baked conservation measures. It isn't too late for most species, but without a serious change in attitude from high levels of government, species like the Green turtle and Chinese Bahaba are going to become just a footnote in a history book" said Dr. Andy Cornish....


from the WWF's "Ocean's 10 Species Status Report":

Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas)

IUCN Red List Status: Endangered (2004)

Hong Kong Status: The only known regularly used nesting beach has not visited in the past four years, sightings are increasingly rare and the species is well on its way to extinction in Hong Kong.

Green turtles exhibit particularly slow growth rates, and age to maturity for the species appears to be the longest of any sea turtle (Hirth 1997) meaning they will be very slow to recover from reductions in population size. Female green turtles usually nest once every two to five years and only one in 1000 juvenile green turtles survives to adulthood (Chan, 2003). Green turtles return to their natal beach for nesting.

Sham Wan at southern Lamma Island was the last regularly used nesting beach for Green turtles in Hong Kong. Prior to this beach becoming protected and made off-limits to visitors starting in 1999 during the nesting season (June to October), nearby villagers used to dig up the eggs to eat, which probably played a big part in the turtles local demise. The last nesting at Sham Wan occurred in 2003.

Other local beaches were used in the past by Green turtles but have become abandoned as housing and particularly bright lights have spread to most beaches. Odd nestings still occur very rarely, for instance one female at Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung in 2006, and another at Big Wave Bay near Shek O in 2005, but these last survivors will not be able to maintain a Hong Kong population. Females lay several hundred eggs but as the survival rate is only around 1 in a thousand, numbers are against the turtles. Even if a few individuals from the 1990s generation of nestlings or earlier return to Lamma in the future, it seems unlikely they can produce enough eggs to perpetuate the Hong Kong population.

Green turtles are highly migratory, and therefore may require protection throughout their migratory route in order for conservation to be effective. Green turtles satellite-tagged by AFCD in Hong Kong have traveled to Hainan Island where an illegal trade exists in dead turtles as curios. For example, in March 2007 a Chinese vessel from Hainan was caught in Malaysia with more than 220 Green and Hawksbill turtles illegally on board (WWF HK, 2007).

Threats Summary:

•  Harvesting of eggs from nesting beaches in Hong Kong in the past
•  Disturbance of nesting beaches in the past and now
•  Bycatch in trawl nets, and possibly gill nets when young
•  Health problems caused by swallowing plastic bags and other physical rubbish
•  Boat collisions leading to injury or mortality
•  Outside Hong Kong -threats not well known but including being caught for meat and curio trade, and being caught as bycatch

WWF Recommendations

•  AFCD has taken solid conservation actions in restricting human access to the nesting beach at Sham Wan on Lamma Island during the nesting season since 1999, and in successfully removing laid eggs, incubating them (with partner Ocean Park) and releasing the juveniles in order to increase their early survival rate. However, all the available information suggests these actions by themselves have been too late and too limited to ensure the survival of the Green Turtle in Hong Kong.

•  WWF calls on government to recognize the desperate plight of the Green Turtle in Hong Kong and formulate a Green Turtle Conservation Action Plan to examine the feasibility of restoring viable breeding populations of the species in Hong Kong.


I've asked Dr. Andy Cornish (pictured at the WWF booth @ Clockenflap) a few follow-up questions by email:

1. Is it too late for the Green turtles?

We try to be optimistic and look for solutions but the Green turtle population that used to nest on Lamma is in a desperate state. The real damage was probably done decades ago when villagers used to collect and eat the eggs, but migratory species like these are often the most difficult to conserve as they face threats in the waters of all the countries they swim through. So removing the threats is a massive task.

It might be possible to deliberately release hatchlings collected from healthy nesting beaches in other countries at Lamma, but I am not sure they would return or even survive the experience, as Green turtle nestlings generally return to the beach on which they were born.

2. Will the beach be opened all year now?

I doubt it and it would be premature. There are young turtles hatched on Lamma still out there somewhere, and one day hopefully some will return to nest when they are old enough.

3. What can Lammaites do about this problem? Anything?

Reporting any marine turtle sightings to government (AFCD) or WWF would help us understand the current situation better. They could also write to AFCD and ask that they devise an action plan to restore the Lamma population.

Really, it's outrageous that these magnificent and ancient mariners are going extinct in Hong Kong right before our eyes, especially when the government is flush with cash.

4. What to do to avoid other endangered species vanishing in HK waters, land and air? Any local activities planned or suggested?

I will get back to this with you later ...we are just starting to plan an event.

5. Any other endangered species on Lamma? Birds, amphibians?

Not that I am aware of, apart from Romer's Tree Frog.

Feb 2'We Posed & Preened & Wore Pink!'

(Photos by Lamma Ladies, photo comic by Captain Gina Meana)

Feb 1Lunar New Year Flower Market

Busy market scenes like these can be experienced again at the yearly Yung Shue Wan Lunar New Year Flower Market, starting today!  (click photos to enlarge)

Reclamation ferry pier (outside YSW Football Pitch), Feb 1-3, starting at 11am till everything's gone! Get all your Lunar New Year flowers and plants! Haggle for the best price! No need to drag your flowers all the way from town! Home delivery by trolley or VV!

For more photos, see my photo gallery from last Chinese New Year:


Read last month's stories...

 
 

 

Lamma-zine Blog started on Sep 1, 2004, and will be updated frequently with anything vaguely related to Lamma Island or its residents, be it news, stories, events or photos.

Contact Lamma-Gung with anything relevant to Lamma that you'd like to see published on this home page!

All text, photos & graphics by Lamma-Gung, if not otherwise credited. Click on button on left for Creative Commons license.

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