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June 30Go Green Fashion Show

Top winning entries of the two show categories.

HK Electric - Press release, June 28, 2008

(text, photos & captions by HK Electric)

Green Fashion Show Highlights Conservation Messages

A new and unique "green" fashion show made its debut on the catwalk today when a group of fashion designers recycled used clothing and news- papers, discarded compact discs, and even mosaic tiles to convey sustainability and energy conservation messages.

This array of innovative designs captured the spotlight at the "Go Green Fashion Design Contest", organised by HK Electric under this year's Smart Power Campaign, which aimed at encouraging people to think and act green to achieve a sustainable future.

Over 40 finalists, short-listed from more than 100 entries from the "Secondary School Students" and "Post-secondary School Students and the General Public" categories, represented a vivid, lively and effective demonstration of the "4R" concept to "recycle, reuse, recover and reduce" as much waste as practicable in daily life.

A blouse made from red-white-blue plastic bags, a disco dress decorated with recovered CDs, knitwear adorned with coloured electrical wires, and a dress with light-bulbs were some of the eye-catching creations. Equally innovative were a shawl transformed from a mosquito curtain, a hat made of used aluminium cans and a stunning pair of mosaic-tile trousers.

Other entries were designed to inspire people to care for the environment and think about the importance of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. Wind turbines featured in floral patterns as well as accessories such as hair-dresses, necklaces and belts.

Renowned fashion designer, Mr. William Tang, a member of the adjudication panel, said it was important for designers to "think out of the box" and infuse their designs with creativity and personality.

"Some ideas are inspiring, like the one that recovers and reuses mosaic tiles, a kind of industrial waste, for trousers. I never thought of it myself," Mr. Tang said.

Mr. Shaun Cheung of the Hong Kong Design Institute said many of these designs were highly creative, turning otherwise useless materials into good use. By utilizing materials found in nature, the variety of their designs could be further increased.

Chief Executive of the Conservancy Association, Ms. Lister Cheung, added: "We can help protect the environment by adopting green practices in every aspect of our lives. This competition offers a good opportunity for the public to pick up green habits."

Corporate Planning Manager of HK Electric, Mr. Sung Shu-kwai, believed the entries effectively delivered green messages. "While continuing with our energy saving efforts, we encourage people to take a greener view regarding life, such as clothing. I am delighted to see some participants have made good use of used light-bulbs and wires," he noted.

Light bulbs, electric wires, red-white-blue plastic bags and laisee packets are used to convey messages of energy saving and environmental conservation:

Designer Tsang Kin-kwan won the championship of "Secondary School Students Category" with his design using recovered mosaic tiles.

Red-white-blue bags & bottle caps; Laisee packets

A unique "green" fashion show performed by more than 40 models & designers.

June 29Cleaning up Our Beaches


Power Station beach  (by Pfelelep)

Green Cottage beach  (by L-G) -- Tannery beach  (by Stine Baska)


Photo montage by Siuyu, click for more of his pictures

Photo by Siuyu, click for more of his pictures

2 photos by Wingman, see more... --
Tannery beach clean-up by "Prince Caspian" & his mum

Tannery beach cleanup, photos by Stine Baska

Stine Baska writes on Sat, June 28:


"Personally, I love spending time on Tannery Beach. It is a favourite for dog owners, parents and people who want a quiet place to read or contemplate. I have used the beach several times as location for family portrait shoots.

"Sadly, Tannery Beach has been devastated by rubbish; I cannot begin to describe how bad it is!

"I started cleaning today with my 11-year old Cas. We picked a few large bags of plastic and old shoes. We have cleaned a small part of the beach and will do more tomorrow! If anyone wants to join us in the clean up we would be very happy! For a cleaner world!

"Stine 9280 8730"

June 28Malcolm's Rock Piles

"Earthkeepers" conquering "Malcolm's Rock Pile" on Power Station beach
(photo by Katie Flowers; her Earthkeepers story to be published very soon.)

Hong Kong Island has its monumentally impressive, humungous temples to worship the Money Gods, scraping the polluted skies. What does Lamma have to keep up in terms of monuments with our neighbour island? They build skyscrapers, we build...rock piles?

Yes, a new Lamma tourist spot and major sightseeing attraction has been growing in the last few months, all thanks to one very dedicated and hard-working man. Take a bow, Malcolm Morris, Rock Pile Builder Extraordinaire! Let's hear it from him in his own words, quoting his fascinating blog Getting past Leukaemia:

"I'm happy to report that my pile of rocks was unaffected [Editor: after Typhoon Fengshan]. It's getting to be quite a little monument at the far end of the beach. It's now well over my height, and beginning to attract curious questions.

"When I started it, I was careful not to strain myself ("nothing larger than my head"). Now I try not to use anything smaller than my head - because the kids like to climb it and then start throwing the rocks down. Making them bigger discourages casual vandalism. It also gives me a solid measure of progress. I can now carry lumps to the top of the pile that I literally couldn't even rock from side to side six months ago.

"Reasons I've given for building it so far include:

To hide the bodies
The stones were looking messy - I'm tidying the beach
I like to sort things by size
I dropped my keys somewhere near here..."

Note the triumphant flag and the stone figurine enjoying the view from the peak.
(Photo by Malcolm Morris, June 20, 2008)

I think this ecological sculpture, made from free, fully recyclable and wholly natural materials symbolises not just Malcolm's indomitable spirit, but also Lamma's spirit and attitude in general. An intensely personal landmark, symbolising his hard-won triumph over devastating adversity, but it's open for all to admire and enjoy! Born out of personal tragedy, it's become a highly visible symbol of optimism and victory. Malcolm's great reasons for building it mirror the eternal quip of mountain climber George Mallory that he wanted to climb Mt. Everest "because it's there."

And how many sculptures in town can you climb up and enjoy hands-on, even adding on and expanding them? Malcolm's Rock Pile is a real people's monument, to be enjoyed and accessed by everybody. Think up new and entertaining ways of enjoying it, but without doing any damage to it, please!

But who could come up with a better name than "Malcolm's Rock Pile?" Let me know by clicking on Email to Editor in the header line of any Lamma-zine story.

P.S. "Publishable Response to the story" from Malcolm (who was happy to see the story above: "Wow! Fame at last!"  Photos by Malcolm):

Malcolm the Rock Pile Builder & Balancer  (new official Lamma nickname!)

Thanks for publishing the pictures and story about "my" pile of rocks. I'm not sure I can claim ownership of the rocks - but I'll take responsibility for their arrangement. All the other additions of flags, water bottles, seaweed, graffiti, and wooden stools (2 so far...) have been contributed by anonymous donors.

The question I get asked most is "What are you doing?" and the serious answer is that I started the pile out of frustration at my weakness when I came out of hospital at the end of last year. After a while I had to ask myself the next obvious question: "When are you going to stop?" and the first answer that came to mind was - "When it's higher than my head" - so that became my informal goal. I've reached that now and I'm rather less obsessed with the pile than I was when I began so its growth has slowed a lot. I fully expect it to be demolished by a typhoon during the next few months and have no plans to replace it when that happens!

At the beginning, I worked at it several times a week and got twitchy if I missed a few days, and irritated when people knocked large parts of it down. But as the months have passed I've become more relaxed. After all the rocks aren't going very far. If people want to roll them down - well go ahead and have fun! I can just carry them back up to the top tomorrow - it's good for my leg strength and for my balance....

All people are encouraged to 'decorate' Power Station beach!  :)

In fact over the past few days I've branched out into rock balancing - just putting single rocks one on top of the other. It takes less physical effort, and a lot more concentration. The results are fun too, though they don't usually last more than a few hours!

June 27Last $531 Monthly Ferry Ticket

Gisela - Moderator of Lamma Ferries forum

(Her blog and Facebook group Concern for Lamma Ferry Service)

Renew your monthly ferry ticket for $531 for the Yung Shue Wan route for the last time for July!

For monthly ticket users, it's time for renewal again. Starting from July, separate monthly tickets will apply to the two routes. The new standard prices will be:

YSW – Central:  $580
SKW – Central:  $621

HOWEVER, for JULY only, you will still be able to renew the YSW-Central and Yung Shue Wan - Pak Kok - Aberdeen route at the old price of $531.
[Editor: You'll also still be able to use the Central-Sok Kwu Wan route and get unlimited return trips per day, but for this month only.]

State clearly to the ferry company staff that you need the $531 YSW monthly ticket to include the YSW-PK-ABD route,
otherwise you might end up with the new, higher price!

Renewal will take place at the same 'offices' at Central and YSW piers.

Renewal schedule( Jun - Jul):
Central Pier 4:
June 28, 30 / July 2:  8am - 6pm
June 29 / July 1: 9am - 6pm

YSW Pier:  June 28 – July 2: 5 - 11pm.

For more info and questions, check out our That Time of the Month forum.

June 26Feeling BOGged Down?

Cliff Goldthwaite - Lamma Newbie,

Lamma BOG (Business Owners Group) had its Third Meeting today, June 26th. Meetings to date have started at 7am, but because of several requests we will be running the meetings from 8-9am in the future.

As part of our regular agenda, we ask a member of the group to present an in- depth look at what they offer as services. At today's meeting, after our regular, individual 1-minute intros and business card exchanges for new attendees, Debi Yeung, an experienced graphic designer and art director presented her work.

She has had nearly 20 years experience in Hong Kong and runs her own graphic design and advertising business, Virgo68. Her presentation highlighted her work for a wide range of clients from Shanghai Tang to Oxfam, and she spoke about the particular aspects of doing graphic design work for the Hong Kong market. Please visit her web site at

After her presentation, we heard from Julian Harley who spoke about how search engines work (in particular Google) and how to get your site listed on their first page. Julian offers web site development services through his company

Fourth Meeting: Thu, July 31, 8AM

10-minute presentation by Lamma-Gung about his favourite topic and labour of love, He's promised to answer all, even embarrassing questions.

Carole Lewis will lead a discussion on Networking for business - especially when you live on Lamma.

If you have a subject that you think will be of interest to the group, please let one of our moderators know. Again, start time will be 8am. Look for our posters around town, or check on this website.

Just a reminder: We have to pay for the space we meet in, so we are asking attendees to contribute $20 at the beginning of each meeting.

Register for the next meeting with:

Carole Lewis


Julian Harley

9364 4390

Denis Williamson

2858 6910

Check out this separate web page, updated before/after each meeting and linked from a new free ad banner on the lower left side of this page:

June 25Waves of Trash Wash up on Lamma Beaches...

Typhoon Fengshan has hit HK almost directly, causing a record 5 severe weather warnings to be issued at the same time (see above). I braved the very "inclement weather" to bring you some stormy pictures of Yung Shue Wan:


The evening before the typhoon -- Sampan Beach in front of Green Cottage Rest.

"Welcome to Lamma Island" sign turned into an island
The Public Library got flooded: "Wet Floor" sign
New Yung Shue Long drainage channel: more space for garbage

The Waterfront's guest & manager playing catch-me-if-you-can
Take your seasick pills before boarding the ferry
Political banners torn asunder by nature, not protesters...

No eggs or chicks to be found, fortunately

The Heroes of the Day doing a huge & difficult, but great & quick clean-up job!
The Democracy Wall needs a new coat of paint, definitely! -- Saved from the fall

Oops, too close! -- Getting-splashed-zone outside The Waterfront

Salad with your pizza, anyone? -- Only little damage on my rooftop

Path or row of ponds? -- Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder

SCMP columnist Andrew Sun used the typhoon aftermath to launch another stupid slur at Lamma's expense: "Waves of trash wash up on Lamma, we're not referring to the drunks on the weekend."

Nick the Bookman got mightily upset about this "niggly little dig" and emailed me an unusually strong rant. Read it in our Waves of Litter Crash on PSB forum.

June 24Cleaning up Power Station Beach

Power Station Beach Clean-up: Sat, Jun 28, 2-5pm.
Organised by Yeung Siu-yu (email him for more info, photos and poster design by Siu-yu).
Here's the bilingual poster, the Chin. forum (where this topic originated), the English forum, plus a contact email for more info.

© SCMP, Jun 24, 2008 -- © Yeung Siu-yu

June 23Approved Lamma Island Outline Zoning Plan

The Planning Dept. has released the Approved Lamma Island Outline Zoning Plan (pdf file, 48 pages) in June 2007 (press release). It's a fascinating document and probably the most detailed description of Lamma Island, her areas and utilities I've ever seen. Discuss the various points of interest in this document in our dedicated topic in our Environmental & Political forum.

Points of interest in the Zoning Plan:

  1. Planned bicycle park between the ferry pier and the library (see above).

  2. Comprehensive Development Area of 2 hectares in the former Cement Works in Sok Kwu Wan, plus two rejected applications (by local or off-island developers?) a few years back to enlarge the area. Gross Floor Area 120,000 sqft is planned, 3 storeys high, like the Village Houses.
    A CDA means that basically anything for low-rise, low-density residential use (house, restaurants, schools, churches, shops, public utilities, etc) can be built in that area, after approval from the Town Planning Dept.

  3. Lamma Quarry is still an "Undetermined" area and could later be zoned into anything. "Potential for development of temporary tourism and recreational activities."

  4. Relocation of Sand Depot close to YSW ferry pier to someplace else in YSW.

  5. Population according to the 2007 by-census of all of Lamma Island was 5,150. But the plan says, "Is is estimated that the planned population of the Area would be about 12,000." The population has actually been SHRINKING by 300+ persons in the last 5 years...

  6. A Commercial site on the "future reclaimed land" (0.37 ha) on the YSW harbourfront, planned as a "small-scale commercial focal point", "to add vibrancy to the locality." See the red, square C area in the map above.

These are all just govt. zoning plans, of course, even though they're "Approved" zoning plans. None of this has actually been approved for construction and it might take many years, if ever, to actually happen. But it all needs to be watched closely by whoever is interested. Check out the interactive online map of Lamma:

June 22Confirmed Ferry Fares & Time Tables

After some limited input from ferry passengers, there have been a number of amendments to the Yung Shue Wan-Central time tables from July 1, plus the new fares, of course. See below. The monthly ticket will still cost the current $531 for July, increasing to $580 only in Aug. But only a single daily return trip YSW-Central will be allowed from July 1. You also can't use the Central-Sok Kwu Wan route with the monthly ticket anymore, but have to pay extra.

You can still use the monthly ticket for the Yung Shue Wan-Pak Kok-Aberdeen route till Aug 14 when HKKF's license for the route will run out. The successor isn't confirmed yet, but it might not be HKKF. Whoever will run those ferries after Aug 14, the YSW-Aberdeen route will cost extra for monthly ferry ticket users. Check out our regularly updated ferry forum for details.

A warm and friendly welcome to Gisela, the new moderator of the Lamma Ferries forum I've just appointed. She also runs the very informative bilingual Concern for Lamma Ferry Facebook group and the Chin. Aroma Gisela blog.

The ferry links on the left of this page will be updated on July 1, of course.

June 21High Alert!  Danger!  Beware of Lamma-Gung!

Life in Yung Shue Wan has just become quite a bit more dangerous! After almost 7 years as a pedestrian on Lamma, as part of my long-term weight loss/fitness plan, I've taken up riding a bicycle again, after 30+ years of not riding one. Growing up in the countryside - in an area not unlike Lamma Island, but with lakes and ponds instead of the sea - we loved biking to school and everywhere else. Testing my rusty skills yesterday, I rented a bike from our bike shop ($15/hour only!). Wobbling, swerving and spinning through Main and Back Street, I felt like a bowling ball out of control. Imagine yourself and all fellow pedestrians as bowling pins...

For sun protection, I was wearing an extremely cheap, unfashionable, hillbilly-style straw hat - so popular on Lamma - for sun protection. But I'll have to look at one of these silly, streamlined bicycle helmets soon. My noggin is my most important asset and without it fully functional and undamaged, the Lamma-zine would become even sillier, weirder and "incomprehensibler". Too late, some of you might say...

But if I'd ever fall off a bicycle I'd hit the road so hard that wearing a helmet might be the least of my worries, I'd need full body armour. Better ride really carefully and reasonably slowly and ding-ding my bell a lot. Yes, I'm starting to turn into one of these annoying bike riders who're ringing their bell all the time, demanding that these obnoxious road obstructions, called pedestrians, get out of their way immediately!

Getting on a bicycle, my attitude shifted almost instantly from mild-mannered pedestrian to "Hell's Angels" mode. All these slow and annoying pedestrians blocking my path, moving sooo slowly or not at all, rarely jumping out of my way! Children running around randomly! Dogs! Huge strollers! Erratically meandering hikers! Gaggles of off-island teenagers blocking the entire path! Aieeyaaah!

Bike Road Rage is fortunately rare on Lamma, but it certainly wasn't a totally alien concept to me anymore during this ride... An unfamiliar, even frightening feeling...

Sharing the narrow paths with hiking visitors is no fun, better to stay off the only beaten path altogether, meaning the Family Trail from the ferry pier to Hung Shing Yeh to Sok Kwu Wan. The entire rest of our island is almost hiker-free, even on sunny weekends! It could be a paradise for bikers, if there just wouldn't be all these *&^%$#! steep hills all over! But after walking up one, you can roll down, free-wheeling, oh what fun! Riding the 2nd Cable Route from Power Station Beach up the hill to the wind turbine. I made it up there almost halfway! Afterwards, rolling down all the way, gliding all along the beach in this high-visibility, amazing sunshine was definitely worth the steep ascent before!

But if you're not really careful, you could end up in a really spectacular, high-speed crash, like something out of AXN channel's "Whacked Out Sports". But as a consolation prize, you'd be entitled to a free ride in one of Lamma's cool mini-ambulances all the way to the Lamma Clinic, maybe even by helicopter to hospital, if you got really, really whacked out...

But then I returned the rented bicycle and became a mild-mannered pedestrian again, only occasionally annoyed about all the obnoxious bikers, the pushy, constant bell-abusers and the "Mountain bikers in ludicrously fashionable outfits in garish technicolour, latest-fad sneakers, groovy, ribbed helmets and tight-ass spandex shorts"...

Might I be joining them soon? Looking for a new or used bicycle now...

June 20Revered Thespian or Hopeless Drunkard?

Barry O'Rorke, playing "Phil" (a drunken actor who plays Mercutio, Paris and the Page) and Dee Cheung, playing "Chicky" (Juliet) in "These Actors of Mine."

Nina Fussing - Co-director  (Tel. 9180-8573 for more info):

(L-G: Nina contacted the Lamma-zine for some publicity for her "These Actors of Mine" theatre play. I asked a few silly questions for Lammaite Barry O'Rorke (see above left, not right!)  Nina got them all answered for me, even writing it all up in the fun little show promo below. Thanks, Nina, for making the life of this editor so easy! I can take the rest of the day off now.)

A Lammaite in Theatre

As everyone knows Lamma is a breeding ground for many unique species, including varieties of the thespian-type. Barry O'Rorke is one of the many fine specimens which "Isla de Lamma" has produced and his latest endeavour is a new comedy "These Actors of Mine" showing at the Fringe July 10-12th.

Presented by DigitalRev, this play within a play follows the trials and tribulations of a group of misfit actors attempting to stage Shakespeare's classic story of Romeo and Juliet on a budget. Of course, every imaginable thing goes wrong, from missed lighting cues to costume mishaps, a frustrated director, a pregnant Lady Capulet and actors having nervous break-downs. The play culminates with a slew of hilariously disastrous performances, lethal poultry and a kiss. Just another perfect day in theatre, really!

We sat down with our dapper Mr. Barry to ask him about his personal experience in this unique comedy:

What is your role in this play?
We hear copious drinking is involved?

Well, this one is a play within a play and the character is a total lush playing Shakespeare, or trying to at least. Of course, Shakespeare wrote a number of total lushes as characters into some of his plays, usually in comedies or as comedic breaks in otherwise serious pieces - like in 'The Tempest' for instance. This is the opposite; I'm playing a drunkard trying to play straight Shakespeare so we'll see how it turns out.

How do you prepare for such a role?

I just rely on my instincts and amalgam- ate a few inspirational figures I guess, and probably chuck in a few of my own particular nuances (of course, I've never been as blind plastered as this guy gets in my life...ahem.)

Ever practice on a rooftop much to the chagrin of your neighbours?

Declaiming on a rooftop and annoying my neighbours? No I haven't got around to that. Even if I did I would be drowned out by the frogs round my way, truly a deafening cacophony, even worse than me.

Can we see you on Power Station Beach practicing your vocal chords against the tidal waves crashing on the beach?

Forget it! Too bloody hot or wet for trying that nonsense down there at this time and I'm probably too lazy at heart.

How do you practice for the show and how's the reaction of the local wildlife, of the 4- and 2-legged variety?

My practice sessions tend to be confined to my head (anywhere) or the ferry journey, where if you watch me closely I can be seen mumbling inaudibly to myself. I'm 'rehearsing', not losing my grip on reality, though I couldn't blame anyone for thinking the latter.

A few words about the deep appreciation and admiring looks from the ladies (or ridicule?) that a Shakespearean thespian is receiving from fellow Lammaites?

As for admiring looks, well, the above example would only merit concerned looks - from anyone, I think. I'm past my best at my age, so those things are but a fond memory. Still, as Oscar Wilde quipped, "The only thing worse than being noticed is not being noticed."

In summary: Join the rubber chickens and the rest of the audience for a nice evening out and a good chuckle! See you there.

Show: These Actors of Mine
Type:  Comedy
Date:  10th-12th July, 2008
Time:  7:30PM
Location: Fringe Studio, Fringe Club

Click for more info

Presented by: DigitalRev

Produced by: Phoenixation Productions

Ticketing: HK Ticketing
Price: $150 ($120 for concessions)

A very pregnant Lady Capulet

Yes, there are rubber chickens in this play!

One more actor having a nervous break-down

June 19Photo © Lamma-Gung

You're most welcome to call me an uncool old fogey, but even as a full-time Internet professional since 1995 I admit to still enjoy reading newspapers, print magazines and books every day; in addition to all the web surfing for work and fun. So uncool for a self-confessed tree-hugger to like dead-tree old media...

I've just finished the astounding, mind-blowing paperback novels "Matter" and "The Algebraist" by Ian M Banks, getting wholly immersed in these so truly alien but also so familiar worlds, peoples and stories that this Wonderfully Wordiferous Wizard Wordsmith is conjuring up. It's not often that you go "Wow!" while reading a book, dazzled by an author's breathtaking virtuosity with words and his amazing hyper-creativity in dreaming up and describing in great detail believable and fascinating alien worlds, peoples, societies, empires...

Some of my neighbours must surely think me strange, sitting up there in my rooftop garden, rain or shine, rocking quietly back and forth and then suddenly going "Wow!", occasionally. Another "chee seen gwailo" for sure, better to stay out of his way...

Enjoying print magazines in general, coming across a new issue that's publishing some of my own photos is a special treat, of course. The British Chamber of Commerce has just published their June '08 magazine, using 3 of my photos, some from my Building a Cantonese Opera Bamboo Arena photo gallery. The credit of "Photo © Lamma-Gung," below each of the 3 photos below make this article a nice little addition to my "Published Photos Portfolio". I consider having my photos used in more and more newspapers and magazines as a nice recognition; occasionally I even get paid (a little bit.)

And yes, I use "Lamma-Gung" as my "nom de plume", a pseudonym for all my work, paid or not, whether it's photos in the SCMP, an exhibition, a new website or writing/photo-editing a Forbes magazine article...

Here's the BritCham story: "Sichuan Earthquake: Help from Hong Kong" (pdf file, scroll down to Page 7). It's about our 2 new Laudable Lamma Luminaries, Gavin & Hugh, and their efforts to bring relief materials to the Sichuan Earth- quake victims. The idea they've been promoting since their Sichuan visit is building similar bamboo structures as temporary "field hospitals, relief housing and interim schools", as they can be erected so quickly and cheaply.

So, after this nice little publicity, who needs fast professional photography at high quality and really low cost? This website is almost a full-time job, but doesn't pay my bills, so I'm always eager for extra work in writing/editing, online marketing, website maintenance and photography... For samples look around anywhere on this website - all unaccredited photos are my own - but especially in the Galleries section. I'm very flexible, usually available on short notice and shoot everything from portraits and events to architecture and travel subjects. Post-processing and Photoshopping to make your photos look really special is usually included for free.

June 18Eclectic Velting-Pot of Arty Culture
                     and Chinese Tradition?

Flash animation © HKTB, 2008

The deep disparity between visiting a place and actually living there comes to mind so vividly whenever I see a description of Lamma written for tourists, like this one on the HKTB website:

"Located less than half an hour by ferry from bustling downtown Hong Kong, Lamma is an eclectic velting-pot of arty culture and Chinese tradition. Due to its proximity to town, it is one of the most adored weekend getaways. Clean air, golden beaches, delicious seafood and fantastic hiking are the main draws.

In fact, many city folk love the island so much that they have moved here in recent years, creating a thriving community of expatriates and commut- ing locals. Bicycles are the mode of transport as there are no cars. Skyscrapers are not to be seen as the buildings are all low-rise."

That's the first time I've heard any place being called a velting-pot - sounding so much more mysterious and intriguing than the slightly more common "melting-pot". Actually, it is indeed an absolutely unique term on the entire Internet, resulting in only 2 Google hits, the HKTB website and an Italian translation of the same page. We always suspected, no, KNEW that Lamma is unique, didn't we?

Don't you just love living in a place with "Clean air, golden beaches, delicious seafood and fantastic hiking"? Just talking about it makes me want to leave my home office right now, do some fantastic hiking through our clean air to a golden beach and enjoy some delicious seafood... IF the rain would ever cease...

More Silly and/or Serious Stuff in tomorrow's daily blog!

Hey, one last thing before I sign off for today to catch a movie off-island...

While Googling above, I got distracted (as one so often does) in a chain of searches, discovering a neat little way of looking at random images from this entire website. They look a bit like an edited Lamma photo history of the last 6 years... Click on each image to view the story that featured it. There are 21 Google pages full of Lamma-zine images to choose from:

June 17Bug of the Day: Rose Chafer

Eric Sampson writes:
"Thought you might like these pictures of a very colourful bug called Cetonia aurata, known as the Rose Chafer, or more rarely as the Green Rose Chafer. You can see the green tints on the legs and edges. It's been around my garden for the last week or so."

June 16DVD, Book & Magazine Sale for Burma

Gaynor: "Can you please post this on the website? Thanks :-)"

Sunday, July 6th there will be a DVD, book and magazine sale. Money collected will be donated to the cyclone victims in Burma. This weekend - Sunday, June 22 - we will start collecting donations for the sale. So, please have a spring clean, and let us have anything you no longer need.

Please make sure things are in a decent condition - i.e. no missing covers, etc., please! There will be drop-off points at: Cath's Bar - Banyan Bay Cafe - and the Deli Lamma. There will be further drop-off points organised nearer the time, watch for notices on the wall. The sale will be held from 10am on July 6, near Spicy Island.

Your help is still desperately needed, as many people are still living near to starvation point, every dollar helps.

Thanks to all who came to the quiz at the Island Bar last month - we raised over $5,000!

June 15When a Butterfly Dies,
                    Does It Change Into a Flower?

Checking out the more and more numerous Lamma Blogs frequently, you come across some great posts that are worth to be shared with a much wider audience via this high-traffic Lamma-zine. You've got a Lamma-related blog, get it linked! Here's a truly beautiful and very inspiring post from Wang Hong's bilingual blog which also shows her many wonderful Lamma photos:

Wang Hong - "From Lamma Island 自南丫岛" - Sat, May 31, 2008:


In the deeper part of North Lamma Island, up to the hills beyond Tai Peng Village, there is a beautiful trail overlooking the sea. This is our Morning Trail. Leading to the entrance of the Morning Trail, a long pass winds through verdant woods and bushes. Now is time for wild flowers and butterflies. Every year in early summer and late autumn, many butterflies of different sizes and colors flutter on one section of this pass, making it almost dream-like.

I remember once being asked by my then two-year-old son, "When a butterfly dies, it changes into a flower, right?" I smiled and said, "Yes, a butterfly is as beautiful as a flower, but when it was young, it was a caterpillar." To me, the metamorphosis in a butterfly's life is an impossible dream that comes true...

...To Chinese, butterflies symbolize freedom, conjugal love, beauty and soul but at the same time death, vulnerability of life, female vanity and transient joy. Its metamorphosis is the extrication from flesh to soul and rise from the heavy, ugly reality to the light and beautiful spiritual world. In traditional Chinese culture, death is anyway not seen as an end, but a metamorphosis into another form of existence.

Every time I walk along the butterfly section before the Morning Trail, I have the feeling that I can raise my hand and touch a dream. A thought often comes to mind. If I were a caterpillar and could exchange my whole life for a day as a butterfly, would I be willing to? When I became a butterfly, would I still carry the memories of a caterpillar?

Continue reading in Wang Hong's blog...

June 14The Petersons Will Rock You!

A picture really says more than a thousand words...

Click to zoom in on this photo, so you might easily recognise the members of this flashy new Lamma Band with their multi-coloured hairdos?

This royal souvenir photo above has been submitted by KING Dan who is sharing power equally, Narnia-style, with QUEEN Sharon, PRINCESS Sascha and PRINCE Andrew. KING Dan writes: "A fun photo souvenir taken by the paparazzi at the We Will Rock You rock musical here today... offering some definitive evidence that aging rockers really do live on, reincarnated as a younger set!"

The KING might have severe second thoughts about submitting this photo by now, especially after he'll have to face the dire wrath of his entire embarrassed family for doing so. Fortunately, all of them have really great senses of humour (I hope!)

But this non-typical Lamma Band is so brand-new it's not even got a proper name yet! Who can come up with a suitable band moniker? And when will they rock Lamma in their first gig in The Island Bar (which the KING and QUEEN co-own)?

Trying hard to come up with some potential band names:

Rock the Petersons?  The Island Barflies?  Kings & Queens of Lamma?
The Lamma Royal Family?  Queer Queens of Lamma?  SPAM QUEENS?
SpammaLamma?  Andy Spammer & the Petersonites?
Lamma Royalty Going Wild?  Sassy Sascha & the Petersonians?
Flashy Sascha & the Canonites?  Princess Sascha & the Island Queens?

Nah! I'm sure that you can come up with much better band names and leave them in our The Petersons Will Rock You forum, please! The best band names, together with this photo, will be added on to The Island Bar website (which I'm running for this great and loyal Lamma-zine advertiser.)

June 13Home Office Warriors, Unite!

June 12Garden of Eden?
                     Let's Not Eat the Apple But the Snake!

Dr Marcus - HK University of Science & Technology Business School:

(republished with his friendly permission from his blog)
(photo by Anonymous Guy, taken in his home. See forum for more details.)

Now is spring time in South China and all snakes come out of hibernation, including the Chinese Cobra. Local guides of the Hong Kong Government map South Lamma Island, around Mount Stenhouse and Mo Tat Wan to be a habitat. Also on North Lamma, at the pavilion north of the Yung Shue Wan Pier and in the region of Pak Ko Village, individual encounters are possible.

Cobras usually do not attack aggressively, but when they flee it is obvious that they are incredibly fast. The venom they carry is the strong neurotoxin Cobratoxin B. There are individual fatal bites recorded in Hong Kong. The species is protected under Hong Kong Law.

All over Guangdong, restaurants offer it on the menu. I like Cobra meat deep- fried after cutting them in pieces of about 10cm. It is better to take the skin off because it tastes like a "fried handbag".

Nanja Atra, the Chinese Cobra, only has a very brief entry in Wikipedia yet. Unfortunately, what I found online outside Wikipedia also does not enable me to refine the entry. This would be a good evening work for a zoologist - either amateur or professional.

June 11Kung Fu Kids, Yoga Practice & So Much More...

(Click posters to enlarge them)

There's so much happening in the Lamma Activities Centre on Main Street, opposite the Deli Lamma, behind the Ice Cream Parlour, it's hard to keep up. Above is the latest batch of new posters and there's a lot more listed on their full schedule, from Junior Kickboxing and Movement Meditation to Cantonese Shopping Classes and Lamma Business Owners Group meetings (incl. Yours Truly).

What is the best way of keeping up, staying informed and not missing any of these very interesting and free or low-cost activities? Subscribe to their RSS Feed (click here) to get the announcements in your own feed reader, or check out their website

Below is a little list of their recent new activities in the last 2 weeks alone. For details check out their calendar - classes almost every day of the week, 4 today, 5 on Saturday,...

June 10Ant - Cicada Rendezvous

A non-bird picture by Lamma's Master Wildlife Photographer Anonymous Guy. He posted it in our Flora & Fauna forum with his typically modest & self-deprecating understatement:

"Yep, think it is this chap....... Some sort of Cicada, methinks...... "

I think it is one of his very best ever photos, a true masterpiece, an almost unbelievably good shot, technically and visually almost perfect. So I asked for some more details about it and how it was taken. His response below confirmed the amazing patience, dedication, experience and expertise that has to go into a single shot like this to come up with such a fantastic result. And yes, it's the emotion of the little tiny ant meeting this huge monster that makes this picture so special, in addition to the great colours, tones, patterns, composition, sharpness, timing, background, cropping, etc.

Anonymous Guy - Lamma's Master Wildlife Photographer:

Think it is a Cicada.
I was sitting in front of my pond (after 1 year of work it still leaks !!) and thinking it really is about time I started doing some macro shots (have been thinking the D3 would really forgive my shortcomings), when this green chap landed on my bare knee.
I wondered...., is this a sign ? I really should try & get a shot. Nah, he'll fly off in a second.

Ten minutes later of staring at one another...... I thought yes....., let's give it a try. So I started crabbing my way through the French windows into the living room in the direction of my camera, trying not to disturb the little critter......... stumbled, and realised how stupid I'd been.
I mean, really....., how was I going to get the 500mm lens off the D3 & stick the 105mm on...., and then screw the ball head mount on the camera, get the other tripod & set everything up and photograph a Cicada on my knee....., as if I even wanted a photo of a Cicada on my knee.
Old age & senility is taking hold quicker than I thought !!!

Then I looked down & incredibly he was still there. So I went for it.
Gently picked him up, took him outside and placed him on the piece of wood...... he didn't even blink an eyelid.
Went inside & set things up with the camera & tripod....., suddenly realising how different it is taking macro shots.
Didn't have a clue how to set up.
Went outside & incredibly he was still there.

Looked thru the viewfinder & saw this random ant having a chat with my new found friend.
Rattled off a few shots before the moment was lost & without thinking too much about setup.
Spent the next hour trying to get better shots...., but no matter what I did, they all turned out wrong.

Postscript..... Last night we had a really heavy storm with thunder & lightning......, stepped out this morning and there he was..... still in the same position.
Think I could have crabbed my way half way round Hong Kong shopping for a more suitable lens, and he would have stayed on my knee.

Nikon D3 w/Nikkor VR 105mm F/2.8 G
2008/06/01 14:18:04.3
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
1/60 sec - F/18
Exposure Comp.: -0.7 EV
Sensitivity: ISO 800
Optimize Image:
White Balance: Color Temp. (5000 K)
AF Mode: AF-S
Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached

Processing. Crop to suit.
White spotter in curves (should've toned down the white bits on the wood!!!!)
Contrast about +8, Brightness about +3, Noise reduction, Selective Sharpening.

Marc Anthony explained: "Great shot Guy. As you say, it looks like a cicada. It might have just crawled up out of the ground (where they live for several years) and shed its underground skin, so would have clung to the same spot waiting for its 'new' skin to dry out (and darken, presumably)."

June 9#12 Top Website in All of HK?

David Wilson, Sunday Post Magazine:   (© SCMP, June 8, 2008)

Net pickings: Top 20 local [Hong Kong] websites

12. Lamma  (

This citizens' forum presents stories and photos from the island's "intriguing, interesting" inhabitants. The site reminds us that there is more to Hong Kong than legions of careerist go-getters. It also explores the antics of pagans, topless sunbathers and all kinds of "ferals".

Well, I'm flattered that my little labour of love is listed in the top 20 of all of HK websites. The descriptions are clichéd, true, but if they attract a few new curious browsers and even some new forum members, then I'm happy. seems to be in pretty good company in the list (in reverse order):

Hong Kong Disneyland, Mister Bijou, Hong Kong Airport Shuttle, Hong Kong Crawler, Discover Hong Kong, Web Wednesday, Zorpia, Xanga, Glutter, Hongkie Town, Batgung, Ordinary Gweilo, The Underground, Big White Guy, aNobii, Hong Kong Outdoors, Cloudless, Hemlock's Diary, Bullpoo.

Another website - which I launched and webmastered for over 4 years - also made it into the top 20, and several others are run by friends of mine...

The description of this website above also made Nick the Bookman, an official and frequent correspondent, very happy when I told him. Two of the 3 terms above used above to describe the content of this website ("topless sunbathers" and "ferals") were direct quotes from his Lamma 500 review. But he used these terms to make fun of the trashy tabloid articles about Lamma, as Alan pointed out in his "Post Mag 'Net Pickings': same old same old" forum:

Nick the Bookman, Lamma-zine, May 13:

"Blame Lamma-Gung, That's My Motto"

...You remember all those witless twitterings in the News of the Screws Chinese tabloids like Next magazine. When they claimed that drink and drug-addled deviants were doing day-glow displays of Dionysian dementia. Rutting like feral hogs and slaking their vile desires on naive young local girls, duped and dosed into narcolepsy.

I must have had dental appointments all those nights, because this is the steamiest action I've seen at the Power Station Beach since the topless sunbathing fad late last millennium. How did I end up writing about this?...

P.S. Dan Peterson writes:
"Huge congratulations on your listing among Hong Kong's top websites in last week's SCMP Sunday magazine. I hope this feels like some reward/ vindication/ compensation for all the good work and creative energy that you put into on a continuing basis. Keep up the good work!"

June 8New Beach, Anyone?

Jay Scott Kanes - Official Court Pet Correspondent:

(Photo above - Power Station Beach BEFORE yesterday's deluge -
by Kevin Bishop, all other photos by Jay)

After Saturday's violent "black" rainstorm, Lamma residents who like to romp in the shadow of the Power Station discovered a new beach. Calm down! That's a "new" beach, not a nude beach.

The friendly face of Power Station Beach frequently changes, its contours and features remolded by the forces of nature, especially wind and water. But with the latest storm, Mother Nature did a massive redesign.

What used to be the main entrance became a large pond, like a wading pool. Deep trenches zigzagged through the sand. New channels drained into the ocean. In a "green education" move, vegetation roots lay exposed for easy study. A familiar rubbish bin stood precariously at the edge of a new precipice. Evidently, boats stashed beneath the adjacent trees nearly had sailed without crews.

Deep trenches cut across the sand.

Human and canine visitors marveled. Some remarked that workers needed months to enhance a drainage ditch near The Spicy Island and The Green Cottage. But a big storm builds multiple drainage routes and more, all within a few hours.

The beach gains a wading pool. --

Vegetation roots lay exposed for easy study.

A soggy theme prevails.

A large pool replaces the main entrance.

New channels drain to the ocean.

A rubbish bin hugs the edge of a new precipice.

Boats stashed beneath the trees: still there, barely.

June 7Blooming Boom, Interrupted

The Black Rainstorm Signal (the highest signal), Thunderstorm Warning and Landslip Warning this morning - plus a severe thunder- storm with intense lightning directly above Lamma Island - have proven beyond any doubt that my flat is NOT rain-proof at all!

Also, you should never ever leave any window behind your PC open, even for just a little crack. My own stupidity sometimes even surprises myself as I should know all about it from bitter experience which should teach me a lesson occasionally. But no! Stupid and stubborn go together so well, that's why they both start with "stu". Well, my sturdy workhorse PC survived and no short-circuits so far... Otherwise there wouldn't be any Lamma-zine story today!

The plants on my balcony and rooftop - which is exposed to winds from all directions - didn't appreciate that the very "violent gusts often occur in squall lines associated with thunderstorms" (HK Observatory). The plants all survived, I think, but most flowers were blown or washed off. But there'll be a wealth of fresh, even more beautiful flower blossoming in just a few days! And no need to water them today. In memoriam of the recent, abundant Blooming Boom in my rooftop garden, below are a few snapshots I took just a few days ago.

Hard to believe that my rooftop looked like this just a year ago! What an amazing transformation, thanks to Lamma's Master Gardener Keren's initial expert setup and my almost daily early morning work of tending and expanding it for the last year! Frankly, I don't even know the names of most of the plants. Quite a few have grown wild from wind-transmitted seeds or grown up from wild seedlings I picked up in public areas along paths. There is a strict NO WEEDING policy in my rooftop garden, everything is most welcome to grow and prosper (or be eaten by bugs), without any pesticides or chemicals of any kind.

The one who can name the most of these flowers (click to enlarge) will win a free dinner in the YSW restaurant of their choice! Or would you prefer a pair of grandpa/grandma mugs (see yesterday's story)?

Double Hibiscus -- Dianthus -- Portulaca -- Torenia fournieri

Clerodendron thomsoniae -- Poinsettia (local wild type)

Portulaca in various colours; also Vinca, Ruella & Coleus

Dipladanea (aka Mandevillea) -- Hibiscus single type

Unidentified - Ruellia malacosperma -- Plumeria alba (Frangipani)

Anthurium -- Portulaca & Tradescantia zebrina

P.S. The winner of the free dinner was Jane Ram, the moderator of the Gardening forum, choosing The Waterfront. Her names have been added above.

June 6Win a Vibrating "I Rub My Duckie"

Cassie - Organiser of Fundraiser for Burma, Thu, May 22, Deli Lamma:

(Photo above by L-G)

Some of Lamma's finest turned out to tuck in to their favourite tipple on behalf of the good people of Burma. Prafull had agreed that for the paltry sum of $35 a drink, 45% of the proceeds would be donated to the victims of cyclone Nargis.

Thanks to Cassie for her amazing organizing, Prafull for his donation of the bar percentage, and Sun's candles, Annie H, Best Kebab, the Bookworm, the Lamcombe, Emily's, Green Cottage, the Lung Kong Sichuan Restaurant, the Banyan Bay Café, and the anonymous donor (of the vibrating duck) for the raffle prizes.

The cyclone ripped through the Rangoon an the Irrawady Delta a month ago, leaving over 150,000 dead (and still counting) and hundreds of thousand more displaced, homeless and starving. Without food or clean water, it is almost certain that these people will die.

Unlike China, whose government has openly appealed for help following the devastating earthquake in the Sichuan province, the Burmese government has done nothing. Instead they have sat in their ivory towers, insisting on a referendum which they believe will further prove their right to run a country they took by force, and rule by fear.

Every cent you can spare can help to save lives. We raised $11,397 that night through drinks sales and the raffle, and the running total I have raised so far through your generosity is: $34,565.

I bought 2,500 electrolyte mixes in Bangkok recently and gave them to colleagues of mine who took them back into Rangoon personally. My Burmese colleagues distributed them as they are able to get to parts of the Delta region where no aid workers can.

All money raised goes directly to them in cash, there are no charity 'admin fees' involved, everything is getting directly to the people who need it the most. It's all going in right under the noses of the military junta who are happy to watch their own people starve.

On July 6th we plan to run a DVD, CD, book and magazine sale – more details of how to donate your old unwanted items soon. We will also be looking for volunteers to help out.

Photos by Cassie:

P.S. by L-G:

Many thanks to the organisers for the raffle prize I won by buying 6 tickets from Cassie when passing the Deli Lamma in the late afternoon. My prize was a set of grandpa/grandma mugs:

A very suitable prize, as Lamma-Por had just unintentionally broken my favourite coffee mug, used daily since my dotcom days, in the morning of the day I won this prize above! No problem, it was just a mug, just "stuff", not important for my happiness. Lamma-Por is a grandma and I'm a step-grandpa, the mugs are perfect! And my lucky number was No. 16, a double 8! Should I start believing in lucky 8s?

I also wouldn't have minded winning the vibrating Duckie above, but what to do with it besides rubbing it? The mind boggles...

June 5Speed Boat Prostitutes Heading for Lamma

The Electric New Paper, Singapore:

Chased by cops, boat pilot leaps into sea, then...

Five prostitutes left alone on speeding boat in pitch darkness

© ELECTRIC NEWS, June 05, 2008

LIKE a rat ditching a sinking ship, the pilot of a speedboat jumped into the water off Hong Kong when he found two police vessels on his tail.

And he left five women - all prostitutes from China - screaming in the dark on board a boat with no one to steer it.

The incident at 7.30pm on Sunday began with a high-speed chase in waters south of the territory, reported South China Morning Post ("Five saved as skipper abandons speedboat").

The 7m-long boat was heading towards Lamma Island without any navigation lights on, Superintendent Ling Wai Po, head of the Marine Police small boat division, told reporters.

Two police vessels were deployed to intercept the boat to find out why.

But the speedboat's skipper ignored their repeated orders to stop. Instead, he revved the engine and raced away.

Said Supt Ling: '(He) tried a number of times to outrun our pursuit boats and created a dangerous situation in a bid to stop our officers from catching him.

'Our boats also had to swerve or slow down to avoid a collision, but there were minor bumps with our vessels.'

The police had to fire a flare gun nine times to light up the area during the 10-minute chase.

When the runaway boat was about 5km from Lamma Island, the pilot jumped into the sea.

The five women, clinging to the railings of the speeding boat, started screaming for help.


Said Supt Ling: 'We believe the coxswain (pilot) deliberately abandoned the speedboat in order to divert our attention and (keep) our officers occupied with saving the speedboat so that he could swim away.'

A police vessel caught up with the speedboat about two minutes later and officers leapt on board.

The 28-year-old pilot, who was trying to swim away, was fished out of the water by the other police craft.

The China national was arrested for endangering lives at sea.

The five woman, aged between 17 and 25, were arrested and questioned.

This is the fifth time in four weeks that Hong Kong's marine police have intercepted speedboats with illegals headed for Cheung Chau, Lamma Island or Lantau.

Supt Ling said: 'In the previous four cases, the coxswains also made aggressive manoeuvres to elude police.'

A total of 22 illegal immigrants - suspected sex workers and job seekers from China and Vietnam - were arrested in the past four cases.

June 4 11 Years of Tree Planting

Bobsy - Organiser of the 11th year of Tree Planting in the growing Lamma Forest project of ABLE CHARITY:

dear one & all,

this coming saturday (the 31st of may) we will be planting 100 local, indigenous trees up in the lamma forest....

this year will be different from all previous tree planting daze.... in that this one we ONLY plant 100 babes!! the idea being that we take our time and consciously plant the trees with as much love, care and TIME we need to bless them on their journey and enhance our own energy exchange with not only the trees but the entire forest... this tree planting event is also by invitation only and you are all invited. you may bring a close friend, spouse, lover or partner with you. please confirm this with me in advance.

this year is different, because there is no specific site or location to be planted, rather it will be a free spontaneous instinctive planting, where each team will go to a location of their choice within the forest boundaries and plant... there will be some guide lines to ensure that the trees have the best chances of survival and these i will explain in our briefing before we embark on our mission as well as have a demo on how to plant etc...

there will probably be about a dozen or so of us and that means that we only have about 5 to 10 trees each which is easy peasy lemon squeezy and give us more time to enjoy the experience...

the tree planting will happen come rain or shine, so please be prepared for all weather conditions and bring the right footwear, hats, sun screen, water, long trousers and anything else you may need to make your experience more comfortable. i am even tempted to even propose a picnic.... but i won't, although for those of you not familiar with the lamma forest, there are some beautiful spots under the shade of trees or on cliff rocks overlooking the sea... any thoughts on this one, anyone? perhaps we just bring some snacks and take it from there...

gloves, tools and all you need for planting the trees will be provided on the day.

we will begin the day by meeting at 9.00 AM in GAIA VALLEY and then we will walk up to the forest.

all those who are coming from central, please catch the 8.20 AM ferry from central pier no 4 heading to Yung Shue Wan.

lawrence (yogi) will be on that ferry to lead you up to the valley for those who don't know the way...

Photos by Justin Curtin:

Photos by Dr Merrin Pearse Ecopreneur and Geodesist, more in his web photo gallery:

June 3New Laudable Lamma Luminaries

The very first Laudable Lamma Luminaries this year have been appointed, a very rare and prestigious honour! Take a bow, Gavin Neale & Hugh Chow, Lamma Dragonboaters and all-round good guys for their efforts in visiting the Sichuan Earthquake zone and delivering much-needed supplies.

See the AFP story below for details. For other Laudable Lamma Luminaries, search for this honourary title - appointed by - in the Search box at the top right of this page!

There's also an even better personal story written by Lammaite Hugh Chow himself, published in the SCM Post on June 1:

Click here to read "Quake relief on the fly " and comment on it.

Agence France Press:

(Photos by Gavin, from his Facebook account)

Beneath official radar, foreigners offer help to quake victims

LOD, 639 words, 23 May 2008, 12:45, Eng.
© Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008
All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.
CHENGDU, China, May 23, 2008 (AFP)

As China appeals to the world for help in coping with the millions of earthquake survivors, a few foreigners have been quietly arriving in the nation offering whatever assistance they can.

They have brought medicines, tents, fresh water -- even sniffer dogs -- to what remains of the cities and towns buried beneath millions of tonnes of rubble when the massive earthquake hit Sichuan province on May 12.

However with Chinese officialdom refusing permission for other relief workers and agencies to enter the country, they have arrived in Sichuan's capital Chengdu almost surreptitiously.

Some have relied on the support and cooperation of Chinese embassies and, once they arrive, local people and organisations such as hotels have offered them discounted or even free services.

To help in the search for the dead, a three-man team from the Dutch organisation Signi Searchdogs de Rips arrived in Chengdu on May 17 with four dogs after taking vacation time to offer their expertise.

For almost a week, veterinarians Esther van Neerbos, Janette Kruit and Saad Atta, with their Labrador and three Belgian shepherds have been recovering bodies in some of the worst-hit areas, including Hanwang, which was almost totally flattened.

Van Neerbos told AFP their trip was only made possible with the help of China's embassy in Amsterdam and the Dutch embassy in Beijing.

"We have not been given official permission to be here, we have to work around that," she said.

"We think they don't want any criticism of what they are doing or how they go about the task of recovery, and so we work quietly on the sidelines, out of the way of officials."

Van Neerbos said it was very important psychologically for the relatives of the dead people to recover the bodies.

"Otherwise they can never truly believe their relatives are gone, they never say goodbye. We do get a lot of gratitude from people when we find their relatives," she said.

Van Neerbos said that on Thursday the dogs helped recover the remains of 11 people in the Hanwang administration building, a day after finding 22 bodies in what had been residences.

The group, which has worked disaster zones worldwide, is staying free at one of Chengdu's major hotels, which also provides transport to the disaster zone, translators, and space in the basement for the dogs, she said.

Hong Kong residents Hugh Chow and Gavin Neale arrived in Chengdu Thursday carrying 150 kilograms of medicines and food from two non-profit groups, International Rescue Corps of Scotland and Hartech Rescue of Alberta, Canada, that were denied entry last week.

Neale said they were waved through Chengdu's airport by sympathetic immigration and customs officials even though they were travelling as tourists.

"We have been offering the medicine and tents to hospitals and medical groups, and we have hundreds of British and Canadian military rations that foreign doctors working out in the epicentre can make use of," Neale said.

The two organisations had brought to Hong Kong high-tech search equipment, including endoscopy and sonic search aids, which they had taken back with them, he said.

"But there's a real need here for the drugs, sleeping bags and tents and it seemed the right thing to do to bring it up and see who needs it," he said, adding Chinese people seemed extremely grateful.

"The help we've had from ordinary people who want to help us to help them in the few hours since we got here has been amazing."

More than 80,000 people are dead or missing following the quake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, and another 5.47 million people are homeless, according to the government's latest figures.

June 2A Mad Village of Stray Dogs & Stray Expats

Always on the lookout for new stuff to feed this insatiably hungry daily blog, and trying to get away without creating all the content myself, I've been doing some "online research" about "Lamma Island". I stumbled upon this blog-aggregating website, quite similar to Google's (the most popular blogging software/hosting website):  TravelBlog - "a collection of travel journals, diaries and photos from around the world".

Searching through their wealth of travel-related blogs, I came across some real gems of blog comments about Lamma & Lammaites, all written by visitors, not residents. This is what Lamma visitors are blogging about us behind our backs, after they've returned home, far away from our wrath! The orange highlights below are my own, added on for emphasis and for your quick browsing pleasure to locate quickly the most outrageous quotes. Discuss these quotes in our new A Mad Village... forum.

Wanderingbri:  "Is this really Hong Kong?"

...Arriving in Lamma, I saw a mad village of stray dogs, and stray ex-pats milling about in no discernable order. The village itself contained a swirling mix of hippies zipping by on bikes, Indian restaurants, Chinese markets, and kids playing all sorts of games. All of this in narrow, winding streets.

The "Family" trail lead out of town and into the next village. I took this trail, and soon discovered that I really was on a remote island. I mean I could have been anywhere in California. It was weird! Not a soul to be found, save the fellow walker. And the occasional burst of school kids. And the occasional biker....

Joseph Teo:  "Visiting Hong Kong - Day 4 (Lamma Island P3)"

...Tourists were moving around the island like worms and the only thing that struck my eyes were Caucasians wearing bikinis. Woohoo! But unfortunately, they're too fast, cuz' they cycled! God dammit....

FreeReigner:  "China - 3 Friends, 4 Corners, Pt I"

...Middle of nowhere in Hong Kong, you say? That's right, because just a 30 minute ferry can have you on Lamma Island, where the beaches outnumber the people and you'd swear you were back in the 'nam with Beck fighting Charlie, instead of right next to the most densely populated city on earth.

Hanging out with a bunch of emotionally unstable hippies on a deserted island isn't an experience you can get from every world class city. I had always wondered where wealthy Hong Kongers could escape to from their 'barren rock' on weekends and if nothing else, this trip certainly gave me a better appreciation for the many faces of Hong Kong....

Velyaen:  "Lamma Island"

...And it was very, very hot out, and I, being an idiot, didn't have sunscreen or a hat. It was all paved, but I have to wonder if it would have been nicer if it had been a dirt path.

Anyway, despite all the complaints, the views were amazing. Except for the giant power station on one part of the island, which I really didn't expect to be there. That was just funny, though, since all along the path there were these little signs thanking the power company for making the path. There were these really cool little altars all along the path that I climbed up to. Took lots of pictures of everything....

AlandSarah:  "Hong Kong"

...Time to meet up with Max, Al's friend who lives on Lamma Island. This truly is one of the most relaxing places I have been to; we spend our days going from beach to sea-side cafes for grazing and watching the sunset with a chilled glass of wine in one hand.

It's fantastic to meet Max; not only is he a bubbly entrepreneur/inventor who understands my love for power tools and hardware shops but he owns a sandpan which is a wooden boat that the locals scoot around the waters in. Max has christened it "Gung Ho" and his friend Ida has decorated it with many colourful Chinese lanterns. We even get dropped off on our way to the airport on Gung Ho, what fun!!...

Appsie:  "Greetings from Hong Kong"

...Lamma Island is a strange little place; it is full of small restaurants and small corner shop like places. There are no cars, but there are crazy locals that drive these small quad bike things down the narrow concrete pathways with worrying speed. I had to pull Claire out of the way of one this morning.

When we first got here, Josh took us for a walk down to the local sandy beach, which is very nice if you don't count the HUGE industrial power station over- looking it. This must be where they get the power for all those light bulbs....

Long hair and cliche beards:  "Kung Fo Fighting"

...The most surreal episode of the trip so far occurred yesterday...

I head over to Lamma island for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is a beautiful little place and displays a massive contrast between old and new China. On arrival, if you look to your left you see a tiny little fishing village with fresh fish in tanks outside of the restaurants. To your right there is an enormous industrial factory with huge steam towers.

I head through a village called Wang Long (they have some cool names out here) and onto a beach resort. The village is beautiful and looks completely untouched by the Western world although there is a commercial side to it as well.

The surreal bit...

Whilst sitting in a beach restaurant eating spring rolls, this beautiful Chinese "lady" does a semi-erotic photo shoot about 20 yards in front of me! At the same time I am treated to a lovely rendition of Kung Fo Fighting by a group of drunk German people behind me!!

All this entertainment for the equivalent of 4 bloody pounds!! I love this place....

June 1Mum & Dad & Fluffhead

Anonymous Guy - Lamma's #1 Bird-o-grapher:

Maybe it is the same the world over... Dad goes out & provides the basics and together with Mum puts in the hard graft and builds a household, but Mum is the one that provides that certain "Je ne sais quoi".

Have on many occasions seen different species of birds picking up & flying with various bits of plastic or brightly coloured material for nest building. Can't be a historical preference for nest building material. May be an example of the natural world moving not only with their evolutionary process, but keeping pace, to a degree, with human modernisation.

Perhaps plastic does make better nesting material, and helps keep the drafts out of the nests and away from the young ones, thereby insulating them better and increasing their chances of survival.

Or, maybe just that extra little something that makes it a home.

Who knows?

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