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Feb 28:  Nature Magick by Peter Zezschwitz

Some of my photos in the Lamma-zine end up in various places on the Internet and even occasionally in print publications and on TV. The photos in my recent Stumbling Randomly Through the Hills Lamma-zine story got this email feedback from Peter Zezschwitz, an ex-Lammaite who has been giving workshops about Creative (Waldorf) Education in HK and China 3 years ago:

I must confess that I did something terrible:

I could really resonate with the pictures you took and I manipulated them to enhance their mystical quality.

In 2006, I combed through Lamma taking a lot of pictures, many of them I treated similarly by mirroring and skewing.

Please don't take this as a copyright infringement but rather as a compliment!"

Of course, I was not offended but sincerely flattered! I have just appointed Peter as the Lamma-zine Artist of the Feb 2009!

He writes, "My brain, at 82, is a little shrivelled, but it was never an organ I could rely on!

I had to augment it with my comedian-type perception of imagery, seeing goblins everywhere [see left] and I left the rest to my guardian angel, who looked after me very well during my 4 month stay in China (and HK)." 

Here are some of his artworks, the first three (click to enlarge) are based on my Lamma photos, but the others are all his own:

Lamma Gate

Lamma Waterworks

Lamma Drain Steps

Tin Hau Temple, YSW

"I walked across the island and, shortly before coming to Sok Kwu Wan I found these two images: You realize (of course...) that there are mysterious gargoyles looking at ya in all my images...!"

Abandoned Totem Site

Sok Kwu Wan Meditation 2

Rock Spirit

Stone Ritual

For a lot more of Peter's Nature Magick images, design portfolio,
anthroposophically inspired fonts and Fine Art pages,
plus a detailed "Artist's Statement", click below:

The last word (and picture) belong to Peter as well, of course:

"Perhaps you are interested in my stumbling experience:

I stumbled very badly in HK and I could hardly get up the next day in Lamma, but the day following I decided to take a long trek to Sok Kwo Wan.

On the way I took great care where I walked and I almost trod on the obvious picture of an angel (the workmen had left a rag on the wet concrete and it created that image), - reflecting it as I usually do, it became an image which I called "Adoration" and it became my Christmas card! Here it is:"

Feb 27:  Junior Police Call

Mr Chik - SSGT, Lamma Police [bold type added for emphasis]:

In order to fulfil the engagement of community and maintain a closer relationship between both youth, parents, school, community leaders, as well as Lamma police. A large scale Junior Police Call recruitment exercise will be held at the coming Saturday, 2009-02-28, 2:30pm, at Hans Anderson Centre, Tai Wai Village, Lamma Island.

On that day, officers of Police Community Relation Officer of Marine Port District will be conducting a recruitment exercise after a bilingual presentation. We hope that a number of Lamma teenagers whose age is over 9 years old will attend this exercise.

The main purpose of joining Junior Police Call is to inspire JPC members not only to foster Police-youth partnership in the fight against crime and establish a correct value and goal towards their life, but also to strive to become one of the best youth organizations in Hong Kong and to assist Lamma Island remaining as one of the safest and most stable communities in the Hong Kong.

We'd be grateful if you would disseminate the subject message to your friend, especially their children and invite them to join our exercise on the coming Saturday. Your kind assistance is highly appreciated. I am looking forward to hearing good news from you this Saturday.

Feb 26:  Meat Eater on Bicycle vs. Vegetarian in SUV

The best and quirkiest Lamma-zine headlines I write are sometimes based on submitted quotes, adapting them to the specific and unique Lamma focus of this daily magazine. This press release below from Senior Lammaite Bobsy's new campaign save the human! featured a very memorable quote (see above). Being a "Meat Eater on a Bicycle" myself - who tries to be eco-friendly and minimise his carbon footprint - I felt personally surprised and a bit embarrassed by this quote.

It compelled me to find out more by actually attending the launch party on this Sunday evening - 6pm in Solas, Central - and report back to you in a photo story. It is an "awareness-raising campaign aimed at informing people about the impact meat and dairy consumption is having on the state of our planet."

Hey, come along, too! It's free and open to anybody, not just for us "wannabe eco-friendly" types. They will (probably) not force you to convert to vegetarianism at the party, just spreading the friendly, cheerful message of "Eat less meat. Stay green and love our planet." Most of our readers are (probably) human, so don't you want to be saved?  ;-)

Please join me at the party, I don't want to be the only "Meat Eater on a Bicycle" facing all these "Vegetarians in SUVs"! They could run me down!

This looks like a really major and very important event - organised by Lamma's ABLE charity - and lots of volunteers, including numerous Lammaites, have been working for months in preparation. "ABLE charity is the custodian of the ever-growing Lamma Forest on the Northern hills of Lamma Island with almost 20,000 trees planted since 1997."

The party promises "awesome music, beautiful people, belly dancers, DJs, tribal drumming, theatrical performance, video art, empowering knowledge, organic vegetarian finger food and green raffle prizes to be won." Enjoy the premiere of a "publicity short film featuring 85 people from different nationalities" (inc. several Lammaites) and meet "beautiful vegetarian supermodel Rosemary" (see above, get the same T-shirt!)

Visit the "Save the Human" Facebook group or event for more details; email Bobsy Gaia - Founder & Brainchild (it says so in the Facebook group); or simply read and click on the poster below.

For a larger and more detailed poster with more facts & figures, click above.

Feb 25:  My 1st Surgiversary

It's been exactly one year since my weight loss surgery (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy) in Queen Mary Hospital reduced my stomach to a small pouch, restricting me to never eat a regular-sized meal again.

135.7 pounds (62.3 kg) lost in a year; just another 17.8 pounds to reach my intermediate goal! It's been quite a ride, changing my life so drastically, improving my general health dramatically and avoiding all my former and future weight-related problems, the real and sole reasons for the surgery. Almost all the former "co-morbidities" of this former "super morbidly obese patient" (medical term, really) - diabetes, blood pressure, knee/back problems, acid reflux - have simply disappeared and I feel 20 years younger.

A pretty strict high-protein/low-carb/low-fat/low-cal/no-sugar/no-alcohol diet, working out, taking up biking & hiking & yoga has all been worth it and the results speak for themselves, I'm being told. But getting all these great compliments on the street almost daily, often from pretty ladies, is something I haven't gotten used to yet.

Well, while continuing my dieting and fitness regiment, this guy formerly nicknamed by some as "The Other Fat Bastard" might go nuts from happiness & joie de vivre once in a while. I'm testing my new-found body and abilities: SkyJumping off the Macau Tower, climbing Mt Stenhouse, hiking to South Lamma, even thinking about bungy and parachute jumps (maybe). All these are challenges that were totally unachievable just a short year ago...

We'll be celebrating my 1st Surgiversary (a term found in weight loss forums) with some new-but-getting-famous-quickly BBC-BBQ @ Banyan Bay Cafe tomorrow night. I'll be sharing a regular, healthy set dinner with Lamma-Por, as usual, and taking the leftovers home, well enough for my entire lunch the next day. This saves us quite some cash and avoids food waste, but we're not very good and profitable restaurant patrons anymore, unlike before. Well, they haven't thrown us out anywhere yet for not ordering enough...

Some Lamma-zine readers have been commenting that there are a lot less stories with restaurant reviews and food pictures than before. But who'd ever want to read about my new, boring food choices! Best salad or mixed veggies in YSW? Best high-protein snacks/desserts? Best sugar/alcohol-free drinks in the bars?

We need new, better-qualified food/restaurant reviewers! People with healthy appetites and unrestricted stomachs who love their food! Where are you? Step forward, please!

Feb 22:  Gina & Anna - Newspaper Delivery

Ahhh, another Sunday morning, sleeping in late, relaxing to a cup of coffee or tea, looking forward to a restful, peaceful day staying home on Lamma. Wouldn't it be oh-so-nice to have the English/Chinese Sunday newspaper(s) waiting for you in your mailbox instead of having to trot down to Main Street to get them? Wouldn't it be even nicer to have them delivered by these two cheerful, local, young ladies above, Gina & Anna? They're like a bright 'n' bubbly breath of fresh air on a grey and muggy Sunday morning. I was fortunate enough to meet and interview them this morning for the very first time, after their first delivery to the Lamma-Gung/ Lamma-Por residence. Noticing their little poster on the Democracy Wall (see below), I emailed them and they replied right away, "We'd also like to say a big thanks [in advance] for the story, we're extremely excited right now!"

It's only the second Sunday for these two friends, both international school students, of doing a paper route and they've only got a few customers so far. This great, friendly and convenient service is a first for Yung Shue Wan, as far as I know. Gina & Anna will deliver to most addresses in and around Yung Shue Wan, even Po Wah Yuen and Tai Peng, but on Sundays only. For a mere $3 extra per English/Chinese newspaper, this is a really fantastic deal, I think. I've already prepaid them for the next two weeks.

Email Gina & Anna for more info!

The Lamma-zine loves little local enterprises like this one and is very eager to support them! Having fortunately been spared from any negative impacts of the economic downturn so far, we'd love to do more free promotions for little local enterprises and services like this one. Only mainly profit-oriented businesses are ever asked to support this website with paid advertising. Any good causes & activities, all Lamma-related charities, non-profits, schools, churches, sports and public events have always enjoyed as much free publicity in the Lamma-zine as they like. Email me for your free promo!

Feb 21:  Stumbling Randomly Through the Hills

What started out as just a little quick stroll up to Lamma Winds ended a few hours later in Cyberport, after a totally unplanned, random hike.

Random, unplanned, no-destination stumbling through the hills of Lamma is an activity I can highly recommend, very healthy for body, mind and spirit. At every crossroad along the way, make a spontaneous decision where to go next, turn left or right or straight, and follow the innumerable little paved and dirt paths through the hills and valleys. Lamma is small enough that you'll never get really lost, never far from help and never out of reach. It's also big enough to make new and interesting discoveries every time, even after years of living here.

Case in point, my recent hike to the windturbine, then along the new Back Passage trail behind the windturbine around Mt Panorama, down the Snake Tail to Tai Peng, up to the Old Village, down Cable Route, along the lower part of the Project X trail, down to the Waterworks at the far end of Pak Kok Tsui, then onwards along the ragged coast to the Pak Kok Village ferry pier.

The last ferry for YSW for several hours had left before my arrival. I spontaneously took the ferry to Aberdeen on HK Island instead and then hopped on a bus to Cyberport. I enjoyed a surprisingly fine and cheap lunch in a randomly selected restaurant I had never been to before. Then I chose a movie in their multiplex, Yes Man with Jim Carrey.

This entertaining movie encourages people to say YES! to life, try new things they've never tried before, visit new places, make spontaneous decisions and be open to the surprises of life which turn into great, new opportunities sometimes. How fitting, that's how I arrived at the cinema in the first place! Serendipity had struck once again...

Click to enlarge my few random, spontaneous snapshots along the way:

A gnarly old frangipani tree in Tai Peng Village -- Through the bushes above the new Waterworks in Pak Kok Shan, down a totally overgrown staircase.

A secret ritual involving rotten star fruits? -- A really welcoming garden entrance

A bird watcher's secret hideout, inc. tripod - drainage ditch - Aberdeen ferry pier

The currently not very inviting-looking Pak Kok ferry pier with the "temporary berthing barge", used while the pier is being renovated

Cheap & yummy Cyberport set lunch: duck breast w/cherry sauce and risotto --
Aberdeen ferry banner

The little, supposedly uninhabited island in Aberdeen harbour, just off Ap Lei Chau

Passing along the steep coast of Pak Kok Village --
Arriving back home in Yung Shue Wan harbour

Feb 20:  A Spicy Afternoon Beer

Afternoon Beer - MAK Keung Wai, 2008, Acrylic on Canvas, 51cm (H) x 61cm (W)

Look what our Alert Reader and Lamma-zine writer OM the Amazing Shrinking Tai Penguin found in the Cultural Center this week. A painting, titled Afternoon Beer, of Lamma's Gentleman Eco-Warrior, sitting in front of his favourite pub Spicy Island (closed in July 2008, to be reopened 100 metres down the road to Tai Peng soon)!

OM discovered this beautiful painting in the Yoyage of Discovery: Shek Kip Mei to Tsim Sha Tsui exhibition above, currently showing in the Cultural Center in TST, part of the HK Arts Festival. OM sent me an SMS from inside this free exhibition and I texted her to take pictures for this story. On her way home, she "met the man on the canvas going up to Tai Peng. I have shown him the photos from my camera, he smiled. Hihihihi!"

It's not the first time the Gentleman Eco-Warrior has been featured in a painting in the same location and exhibited in an art gallery, see my LammaCelebrityCam exhibitions and calendar, featuring him as Mr July 2008. If anybody else would like to use this true gentleman as a patient model, contact me.  ;-)

P.S. by the Gentleman Eco-Warrior:

"I was not aware that anyone was painting me and it came as a complete surprise when your friend showed me the picture on her digital camera."

P.S. by OM:

"You know there are people we can't forget, even though we don't know them. What makes them stand out is their uncommon characteristics that define them. As a Lamma Newbie, there is one person on Lamma whom I always recognize without even knowing him. If I describe this person as invariably wearing a hat, could it be an old Borsalino Super Fino Montecristo Fedora hat, enobling the gentleman?

"What a surprise to meet this particular gentleman in an exhibition on canvas, drinking an icy beer on a sunny day, while relaxing reading his newspaper with his loyal companion peacefully sleeping at his feet! What a beautiful acrylic canvas: the spontaneous brushes of light revealing this gentleman, another unforgettable and original individual living on Lamma."

Feb 19:  Masks -- Lamma Stars in a Movie

Jay Scott Kanes - Author, Photojournalist, Blogger:

(story, photos & captions by Jay, click to enlarge)


With a modest production budget but a big theme, independent film-maker Alba Rayton has created Masks, an emotional, scenic and content-rich short movie about tiny Lamma Island that most viewers will love. Already showing signs of success, it's poised to screen at three overseas film festivals – one in America, one in Europe and one in Asia.

"It's magical and exciting to create a story that not only friends can see, but also people around the world," Alba said. "I love to share my imagination."

Although moody and laced with exotic Asian flavors, Masks nicely captures the natural beauty, village lifestyle and eccentric touches that make Lamma special. Nearly every scene in the 50-minute movie demonstrates 63-year-old Alba's artistic talent. How artistic is she? Consider a strategic camera shot of a departing ferry seen through the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

"I try to create cine-art," Alba said. "My films are very lyrical and poetic with the images. We achieve that with the camera, lights and shapes. The audience should feel that all emotions have been touched."

Plans call for a Hong Kong premiere in late May. "If for some reason we can't have a public screening on Lamma, then my intention is to have a night elsewhere mainly for Lamma people," Alba said.

Based on Alba's own script, the movie tells of Dan, an American schoolteacher living with a pet parrot in the hilltop village of Tai Peng: "Two different birds played the parrot's role. They worked in shifts."

Suddenly, Dan receives a phone call urging that he provide a home to Philip, his 13-year-old nephew. Reluctantly, he agrees, and two anguished souls must live together. Is Lamma really big enough for them both? "It's about the conflict within them and how the pain they share can divide or unite them."

Philip dislikes Lamma, partly because his uncle insists on feeding him chicken feet, octopus, thousand-year-old eggs and other oddities. When unhappy, he retreats into the winding arms of sturdy trees.

But Dan tells the boy: "I'm happier here (on Lamma). I don't have to wear masks. I have fewer cravings."

An image of two passing ferries, one going, one coming, symbolizes the characters' relationship. Wise beyond his years, the boy warns Dan: "Grandma says you can die of loneliness," and "Seriously, you need a girlfriend, one you can touch, talk to and love."

Nearly the entire movie, produced at a cost of about HK$150,000, unfolds on Lamma. The cast and crew shot images along Yung Shue Wan's Main Street, at the fishing village and adjacent beach, along footpaths with familiar green railings, on hillsides and a rooftop, near the windmill, at a shrine behind the clinic, on the pier and even on ferries. Practicing dragon-boat racers paddle past. Nick the Bookman makes a cameo appearance, as does a familiar fishball merchant. The Green Cottage has prominence in the credits because the crew took breaks and ate there.

Stretching a tight budget often means disregarding formalities. "For short scenes, there's such a thing as guerrilla shooting," Alba said. "You don't ask permission. You just do it."

Naturally, she needs other talented, dedicated people too. Each crew member has multiple tasks. "It's hard on us physically, mentally and emotionally," Alba said. "It drains us."

She heaps praise onto Fandy Fan, the editor, cameraman, assistant director and much more. "He really held things together." And production assistant Lisa Cherfan smoothed away one problem after another. Lamma Islander Richard F. Jones joined the crew and contributed strongly on sound.

Most low-budget movies can't pay the actors. Simon Rayton, Alba's 34-year-old son, plays Dan. "That was a great experience for us," she said. "We got to know each other much better."

The movie co-stars 12-year-old Alex Cherfan as Philip, his sister Mikaela, age 10, as Christine, Philip's friend, and actress Jo Jo Yee, originally from Malaysia, as Christine's mother. The Cherfan children, once Alba's neighbors in Pokfulam, later moved to Australia.

In May, Masks will screen at the British Film Festival in Los Angeles. Then in June, it shows at the International Film Festival in Phuket, Thailand, and at the Heart of England International Film Festival.

When shooting on weekends for two-and-a-half months early last year, Alba fell in love with Lamma so deeply that she and her husband John, a retired bio-chemist and businessman, now also her executive producer, promptly moved here. Shooting ended in April, and they arrived to stay in May.

"In search of a movie setting, I went to a few islands," Alba said, "and I realized that Lamma has much more than just seafood restaurants. I fell totally in love with the place."

Like most Lamma newcomers, Alba and John then adopted pets – two young dogs, Ginger and Mabel, who as puppies resembled brown bear-cubs. "We always wanted animals," Alba said. "After finding the two dogs, they made our lives on Lamma even happier than we expected."

Simon, a businessman, poet and now lead actor, also lives on Lamma. "He moved here soon after we did," Alba said.

Long a drama teacher (ideal to direct rookie actors), the worldly Alba, originally from Puerto Rico, has lived in the United States, England, Thailand, Indonesia, China and now Hong Kong.

She took up film-making a few years ago and studied at the Hong Kong International Film Academy. "Finally, I'm pursing what I always wanted -- film-making and directing," she said, mentioning the names Richard Wong and Gilbert Po as her "very important" film-making advisors.

So far, Masks is her longest project. But one earlier film, The Birthday Party, finished in 2007, won an award at the Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Nineteen minutes long and costing just HK$10,000, The Birthday Party revolves around a love triangle, a pregnancy and a positive HIV-AIDS test.

Next, Alba aspires to do a documentary about the many unusual characters, both human and animal, living on Lamma in harmony with nature and each other. She'll find ample material because, like her protagonist Dan, real-life Lamma Islanders dislike wearing masks.

Alba can be reached by email:

Lamma through her lens:
Alba Rayton takes aim.

Alba finds inspiration on her rooftop.

Husband John has a suggestion or two.

Technically no film buff, Ginger's still a close advisor.

Pet dogs Ginger and Mabel offer creative input.

Moments of contemplation:
part of the creative process.

Movie directors must do paperwork too.

Scenes from the movie,
shot from the screen,
sorry for the quality!

Lamma on the big screen:
the ferry pier.

A main character strolls on the Main Street.

Northern Lamma:
seen in movie scenes.

As the windmill whirs, so does Dan's troubled mind.

Movie meow: a Tai Peng cat crosses the screen.

On 'magical' discs,
Alba 'shares her imagination'.

Feb 18:  Fellow Lammayans and Friends!

Lokkanat - Official Court Storyteller:

Fellow Lammayans and Friends!

As we all know the economy has not been good lately and it is not likely to get any better in the near future. This has been putting a lot of stress on a lot of Fellow Lammayans and Friends. So our Shire Council has been working with various ministries to come up with some suggestions and recommendations to ensure we don't lose the integrity of our Shire.

These are all very preliminary drafts. In other words, I'm just leaking out what I know and what I've heard.

  1. Ministry Of Magical and Non-Magical Residents has received complaints from various Lammayans, tenants and landowners, that property and rental prices have been artificially inflated to create a false sense of security that the economy of Lamma is booming despite the global financial tsunami.
    The Ministry is taking these complaints very seriously because price fixing is an illegal practice. Real estate agents and landowners who engage in such illegal practice should be aware that the Ministry is now working with the Ministry in Minas Tirith to review these complaints. The Ministry is also planning to hold a press conference to talk about the danger of artificially inflating property and rental prices on Lamma. The economy is bad because money is NOT flowing i.e. no one is spending. If property and rental prices are artificially inflated, this will only discourage people from spending. Eventually this will choke our economy to death.

  2. Ministry Of Parenting and Ministry Of Ferry Service have received numerous complaints about parental negligence lately. So the economy is bad and the parents are under stress. But it is never acceptable to neglect the proper upbringing and socialization of children. It is already a disgrace to our Shire to have children screaming, yelling, and stomping all over the ferry with absolute no respect to other ferry passengers. It is simply despicable that parents, who are on the ferry with these unruly fast and furious brats, do nothing to discipline the brats and respect the rights and welfare of other ferry passengers.
    Ministry Of Parenting has now enlisted the help of a group of Fellow Lammayans to document the disruptive behaviour of the fast and furious brats AND the irresponsible parent if around. If the Ministry has to resort to name and shame, so be it! In the meantime, the Ministry Of Parenting likes to remind all parents and all those planning on having children that if they don't know how to be good and responsible parents, there are many books on parenting. If you are not prepared to be a responsible parent, there are a lot of contraceptives available as well.

  3. Ministry Of Public Works has received literally hundreds of complaints every week about all the construction work on Lamma. The Ministry Of Public Works would like to remind all Lammayans that the Ministry Of Public Works is not the only one responsible. There are the Ministry Of Waste Water Management, the Ministry Of Public Transport, the Ministry Of Nuisance, the Ministry Of Population Control, the Ministry Of Blood-Sucking Mosquito Rights, and countless more.
    The inconvenience some Lammayans and friends are currently experiencing is as a result of their incompetence to properly coordinate with each other. That is why you keep seeing the same spots being dug up over and over again. Our Shire Council is well aware of this incompetence and will be looking into this very seriously. A full report will be ready when all the construction work has been completed in 5 to 10 years' time. So if you have any complaints, send them to our Shire Council.

  4. Ministry For The Care And Protection Of Magical Creatures has recently received fresh new evidence that a local breeder is applying for council land to breed three-headed dogs like Fluffy [Hagrid's puppy featured in The Philosopher's Stone as guarding the trap door, blah, blah, blah]. While it is perfectly legitimate to breed three-headed dogs like Fluffy if you have a proper license, it is absolutely against the law to strangle or drown unsuccessful litters. So they only have one head. Most dogs have one head, in case you have not noticed!
    Besides, it is not their fault to be born with one head. Anyway, since this local breeder has been previously brought to court for inhumane cruelty against puppies [although the court found him not guilty], the Ministry is now in close consultation with our Shire Council to review his application. If you have any evidence which can help with the review, please submit your evidence for the Ministry.

Last but not least, our Shire is only our own Shire if we make it our Shire!

Feb 17:  Forum Message #50,000!

When webdog founded our forums on Tuesday, July 23, 2002 10:07am, he probably didn't expect them to last for (almost) 7 years and grow to such an impressive size. It took a great deal of time and effort to get these forums to survive and grow and become a valuable resource and online meeting place for Lammaites. Maintaining the discussions at a mostly civil and constructive level, keeping the relentless spammers out, solving technical and registration problems ("Lost my password!"), starting new topics, encouraging new members, handling disputes takes a lot of time and commitment. The forums have always been completely non-commercial and generate no revenue whatsoever, even the classifieds are all free. The forums are webhosted separately and are supported by a handful of private, anonymous sponsors and a bit of ad revenue from the separate Lamma-zine/Events Calendar/Photo Galleries.

When I joined up as forum member #13, I couldn't imagine the number of registered members to grow to the current number of 6,639 (OK, quite a few spammers and multiple registrations) and 4,018 topics to be discussed. My becoming a co-administrator, moderator and founder of the Lamma-zine, Events Calendar and Photo Galleries happened almost right away in 2002. Many thanks to all the forum moderators who put so much effort and time into the forums, plus all the loyal and occasional forum members posting so many informative, critical, friendly, silly, hilarious messages over the last almost 7 years! By the way, this is the Top-8-Topics list of these years:

Message #50,000 (in Chinese, the most popular language in our forums, of course) was posted by loyal, long-term member HAPPY MOTHER, forum member #5,906, posting 170 messages in total so far. Congratulations! She's expressing amazement and ridicule about a 700 sq ft - Rent $22,000 ad in a property agent's window on Main Street. This is a new record price, the complete opposite of the falling property prices in the rest of HK and worldwide. This ad has got many renting Lammaites riled up, including myself.

Unlikely to ever find a stupid-enough tenant, this ad seems to be part of a recent local trend, trying to push up 2/F w/rooftop, 700 sqft flats to $10,000/month and far beyond. They're probably hoping to take advantage of rent refugees from HK Island who are used to even higher rents and are the only ones who maybe might consider these new, outrageous prices on Lamma acceptable. Ads like this poison the local rental market, IMHO. I really hope my own off-island landlord won't hear about this new trend. We're still only paying $6,000 for our own 2/F w/rooftop dream flat with great all-round views, just 9 minutes from the ferry.

Feb 16:  Lammayan Tigers

Lokkanat - Official Court Storyteller   (photos by Max1217, click to enlarge)

In the Old Days, when Lamma was connected to the northern land mass, the sea level was much lower. Lamma was then just a hilltop outpost overseeing a vast patch of fertile land to the south. As the sea level began to rise, some mystical creatures from the south migrated up north to Lamma. One of them was a pack of feline dogs with golden brown brindle markings.

According to the Lammayan Chronicles, the locals first noticed large black dogs with tiger markings in the forests shortly after the first sudden rise of the sea. They also noticed the large black dogs behaved more like cats than dogs and preferred to venture out of the forests under the cover of night. Their golden eyes glowed in the dark and they had this long growl which sounded like a purr. So the locals started calling them Lammayan Tigers.

Lammayan Tigers and locals lived together in harmony for seven years. During this time the harvest was good and more people came to settle down in the fertile land south of Lamma. Travellers from the north came to see the Lammayan Tigers and local taverns and businesses were all happy making a lot of money from the travellers.

Then one night shortly after the first full moon of the lunar year the Lammayan Tigers started to howl. The locals were scared to go out and all night they stayed up listening to the blood curdling howls of the Lammayan Tigers. When the sun rose the next day, the locals ventured out and noticed the Lammayan Tigers were all gone from the forests.

The following night the locals heard the howling again but this time it came from the hilltop. Some of the locals went out to see what was going on and they saw the golden eyes of the Lammayan Tigers all over the hilltop.

The next day the locals talked amongst themselves wondering what was going on with the Lammayan Tigers. One of the biggest land owners who had never really liked any cats and dogs saw the opportunity and claimed the population of the Lammayan Tigers had grown too large and their evil wild nature had begun to surface. It would be a matter of time before the Lammayan Tigers start raiding the local village. Although some of the locals were scared, they did not pay much attention to the land owner because they did not like him.

That night in the middle of the night the howling started again like the night before. But this time the howling was just outside the village and the howling was almost frantic. Remembering what the land owner had said earlier, some of the locals went to see the land owner for advice. The land owner told the locals they must kill the Lammayan Tigers or they would lose their village. So together they rounded all men and women of the village and confronted the Lammayan Tigers just outside the village….

It all started the night of the first full moon of the lunar year when the sky was clear and the stars were shining bright. During the course of the lunar eclipse, the Lammayan Tigers saw the signs in the sky and sensed the future in the air.

Fourteen thousand years ago…

… a wizard went on a bushwalk into the wilderness. For 30 years he wandered looking for someone to pass on his knowledge because the gods had told him in a dream. Then one day he came across a pack of feline dogs in a large oasis. He was old and tired. When he saw the feline dogs, he thought the gods had abandoned him and the feline dogs would surely devour him. But instead the feline dogs found him fruit and kept him warm at night.

Every night the wizard noticed the feline dogs would gaze upon the stars. At first he thought the feline dogs were just curious about the twinkling stars. Then one night the feline dogs started to howl and became agitated. So he looked up at the stars and he realized the feline dogs could read the signs of the sky.

The feline dogs nudged the wizard and urged him to leave with them. But the wizard was old and could not move properly. He knew his time was up and he was heart-broken by the kindness of the feline dogs. Instead of slowing down the feline dogs, he asked to speak with the leader of the feline dogs for he must fulfil what the gods had told him.

"Anoob, I am old and I can go no further. You must lead your pack south east to solid high ground before the sand swallows up everything. Once the sand is all settled, you must travel up north along the river where you will find men like me. To you I pass on the power of speech and my knowledge of life and death. Now you must go." The wizard smiled and passed away.

Anoob cried and cried. Although he knew he must lead the pack away, he could not bring himself to leave the body of the wizard to the elements. So he told his pack to go south east and wait for him up the mountain near the great lake.

When his pack had left, he cleansed the body of the wizard with the knowledge of life and death the wizard had given him. Anoob then dug a deep hole in the sand and buried both the wizard and himself….

For 90 days Anoob stayed buried with the wizard while the earth shook and the sand churned. For 90 days he guarded the body of the wizard. When all was settled, he dug out and carried the body of the wizard to the great lake to find his pack.

His pack had waited faithfully for Anoob at the great lake. When they saw Anoob, they were shocked to see how he had changed. The elements and the starvation had ravaged, if not transformed, the body of Anoob. His dark fur now had streaks of golden sand markings and his eyes were the colour of golden sand.

Some of the feline dogs were angry that they had waited for so long and they did not approve Anoob of his recklessness to risk his own life for the preservation of a dead man's body. To them, Anoob said, "All life is sacred and death is just a transition in life. For over 90 days you waited for me. No doubt you wondered if I had perished. Yet you waited. You waited because you knew I would come back. I waited because I knew the wizard would be back."

Anoob followed the last words of the wizard and led his pack up north where they found indeed wise men like the wizard. With the power of speech from the wizard, Anoob explained to the wise men up north the story of the wizard and the plight of his pack. The wise men were so impressed by Anoob that they built a temple to honour him and they took him and his pack as their equals.

Anoob lived for nearly six thousand years and men had come to revere him as a god. With the foresight of Anoob and his pack, men flourished and learnt the secrets of the stars and the knowledge of life and death. Giant sandstone temples and monuments were erected throughout the kingdom of the wise men to honour and worship Anoob and his pack.

Anoob fathered a lot of puppies but none of them had a life span longer than 20 years. Although his descendents did not inherit his longevity or power of speech, they all had eyes and brindle markings of brilliant golden sand colour. They could all read the signs of the sky and foresee the future….

So on the night of the lunar eclipse when the Lammayan Tigers saw the signs of the sky, they knew what they had to do lest neither Lammayan Tigers nor their fellow men would live no more….

The Lammayan Tigers stopped howling as they saw the locals approach. At first they thought the locals had gotten their message and had come to go up to the mountain with them. But the angry faces and the weapons the locals carried told them otherwise.

Some of the Lammayan Tigers lowered themselves in a submissive position to beg the locals to reconsider for they meant no harm. Some even rolled over to show the locals they had come in peace. If only the Lammayan Tigers could speak.

The locals started to massacre the Lammayan Tigers. They clubbed and hacked and before long the blood of the Lammayan Tigers soaked the ground. One Lammayan Tigers managed to escape and run up the hill. So the land owner rallied the locals to go after the lone Lammayan Tiger.

When the land owner and the locals reached the hilltop, they found the lone Lammayan Tiger hiding in a cave. Afraid of venturing into the cave, the locals set up a fire to smoke the lone Lammayan Tiger out. As the fire raged on, they saw a pair of golden eyes slowly emerge from the darkness of the cave. The land owner urged the locals to keep the fire ablaze and filled the night with his so cold-blooded mirth while the lone Lammayan Tiger gave out a long eerie howl of deep sorrow and pain.

Suddenly a strong gust of wind blew the fire away from the cave towards the locals who then started fleeing for their lives. When the locals were half way down the hill away from the fire, the sea started to suddenly rise and completely submerged the village drowning all their children before their eyes. According to the Lammayan Chronicles, Lamma then became an island and the locals moved to different parts of Lamma to start all over again.

In its recorded history which ended abruptly about two thousand years ago, the Lammayan Chronicles continued to report numerous sightings of a lone Lammayan Tiger….

Years passed and there were many stories about the Lammayan Tigers and what had really happened from the first howling to the night of the massacre. Many Lammayans believed the Lammayan Tigers had come to warn them of the calamity. But their ancestors being foolish and ignorant ended up slaughtering the Lammayan Tigers.

As for the lone Lammayan Tiger in the cave, many locals believed it had managed to escape and eventually mated with the local wild dogs because once in a while they noticed the local wild dogs would give birth to puppies with very subtle and patchy golden brindle markings. But some locals believed it died in the cave and the ghost of the lone Lammayan Tiger still roamed the hills looking for its pack.

However, descendants of the land owner held on to their belief that the Lammayan Tigers were evil. Whenever there were sightings of a Lammayan Tiger or just simply wild dogs on Lamma, some of the descendants would secretly put out poison along the hillside. Many innocent dogs and cats were killed over the years. Still no Lammayan Tiger was ever found.

Before the Lammayan Chronicles abruptly ended about two thousand years ago, there were two almost cryptic entries--one about a mysterious wizard and one about a mad land owner….

Mysterious Wizard

One day a wizard came ashore. He went straight up to the hilltop and entered the cave where the lone Lammayan Tiger had hidden years ago.

For 90 days the wizard stayed inside the cave.

On the 91st day near dusk when the fishermen came back from fishing, they saw the silhouette of a wizard holding a staff sailing off towards the setting sun. Beside him, they saw the silhouette of a big wolf dog.

So that night some of the fishermen went up to the cave to check on the wizard. They noticed the cave had collapsed and chiselled on the rock above the cave was an inscription of some pictogram or hieroglyph which none could understand.

Out of fear that it might be a curse, the fishermen smashed the inscription and buried the cave under tons of soil.

Mad Land Owner

Every now and then innocent dogs and cats continued to get poisoned and died. The locals were getting angry because every time there was a poisoning, the economy suffered. Locals would move away and travellers would stop coming to Lamma.

Then one day an innocent child playing along the hillside outside the northern village got poisoned and died. Seeing her only child convulse and die before her, the mother lost her mind. She carried her dead child into the village. She laid down the dead child in front of the village council and started pulling her hair out.

"I curse those who poison our hillsides. For every innocent dog and every innocent cat poisoned, those who put out the poison be condemned to living hell. You have killed my only child! I curse you and your family for all eternity!" The mother then ripped out her throat with her own bare hands and died.

That night the relatives gathered together to pray for the souls of the mother and the child at their ancestral home. All the neighbours stayed indoor to respect their privacy and offered their own prayers. In the middle of the night, there was a lot of weeping and screaming and it went on all night till dawn.

In the morning all was quiet and the neighbours went on leading their usual life.

A week later the neighbours brought food and offerings to the ancestral home as part of the local customs and rituals to honour the dead. They knocked on the door and there was no answer. But they could hear the voice of the patriarch. As the door was not locked, the neighbours opened the door and entered.

They found the patriarch and his wife sitting on the table talking to themselves and laughing. In front of him were the dead bodies of his relatives--all clubbed and hacked to death.

When the patriarch saw his neighbours, he said, "They came to help. But look what we have done!" The patriarch and his wife laughed and then took their own lives.

Shortly after these entries, the Old Ones left Lamma. The Lammayan Chronicles have only been recently unearthed. We are still trying to piece together and decipher the Chronicles.

The End For Now...

P.S. by Dr John of LAWC, posted in our Pets forum:

"Yes, there are still Lammayan Tigers living in the hills above Hung Shing Yeh, obviously descendants of Anoob - see Lamma-zine, Feb 16.

A 7-week old feline-dog baby was found this week on the hill beside the police station and is being fostered by Lamma Animal Protection.

And Lamma Animal Welfare Centre has one who we found last September under a boulder in a dried-up stream in the valley above Herboland. We have called him Galang and he is one of the sweetest, most intelligent, young dogs you could ever hope to meet. Click for more info.

Please contact us if you would like to share your home with a magical animal!"

Feb 15:  Mogwai -- Screech-Honking Blasts of Sonic Delirium

Nick the Bookman - Official Court Music Reviewer of the Lamma-zine:

(Story [abridged version] by Nick, photos from Mogwai's publicitity)

Mogwai - Live in HK - Jan 18 2009

It's the eve of the dawn of a new day in American and global political history. I'm walking home from a Mogwai gig at HITEC. In a few hours, Barack Obama is going to be the Most Powerful Man In The World, replacing George W. Bush.... for full review...

I was returning home from Mogwai's second HK gig in about two years. Only found out about their debut after the event. Local band Elf Fatima, who are musical kin under the skin, were the opening act. Mogwai are a Scottish quintet whose career began 13 years ago. They're on tour to promote and perform their sixth and latest release "The Hawk Is Howling". Their music is experimental, electronic, electric and eclectic. They've composed film soundtracks, notably for the documentary about now retired French footballer Zinedane Zidane. I'm up for a night of quiet/loud dynamics intermingled with dissonance and melody. The performance can cause timeshifts in perception. Some of the music might even by created by the mixmeisters at the master console, interacting and shaping the flow of the noise. The gig is a sellout. About 700 people crammed in the auditorium on the third floor of HITEC in Kowloon Bay. Elf Fatima are on tour, so they're absent. There is no opening act...

...Arrive safely and bump into Nick B. (fellow Lammaniac of Little Red Email fame). The hall is the same one I saw Michael Schenker Group and Strativarious (from Helsinki). True to form, everyone rushes to the front row seats for the best view. Doesn't matter. Even at the back, you're not going to miss anything.

I find myself standing next to Regina and Vincent AKA Snoblind. Have a good mag about the show. Haven't seen them since their two excellent gigs at Clockenflap at Cyberport and a more ambient gig on the middle floor of Pier 4. They've just played a recent Underground gig as well. If you're reading this, Snoblind, sorry, I couldn't get there. I strained my back and over-medicated myself for the pain. Am looking forward to hearing your new CD. Oh yeah, Sil, the drummer for The Sinister Left and a fellow YSW resident, is in attendance. Not surprised to see him here. Spotted him on a recent ferry ride looking admiringly through a big selection of Can CD's. Can are one of the pioneers of Krautrock, along with Amon Düül, Faust, Neu and Ash Ra Tempel. Don't forget the 'tronic boffins either like Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze.

Anyway, Nick has joined me on the walk home. We're discussing the performance and its lysergic chrono-distortion and meander into a general chat about time. How much is there? What about the Space Time Continuum? What do we mean by time?

As a concept, Time is youthful. Our period of existence and civilization covers about 11,000 years, That's one of the longest intervals between cataclysmic Ice Ages to date. Almost everything worthy that has been accomplished by mankind has occurred in this tiny micro-blip of existence. Our species has been struggling along for about 74 millennia since the eruption of the Lake Toba supervolcano in Indonesia wiped out over 99.98% of us. Leaving a "genetic bottleneck" of primitive survivors in East Africa to cope successfully with the Nuclear Winter. This eruption changed behaviour patterns from isolated tribes of hunters to collections of farmers and agriculturists bonding together for species survival and eventual population re-growth. Then re-colonisation of Earth. Aboriginals arrived in Australia about 40 millennia ago. Europe and Asia slowly got settled along the way. Man grew into a way of life marked by the diurnal/nocturnal divide and the seasonal flow. Even had time to paint on cave walls in Auxerre about 24 millennia ago. The population gradually grew to millions - enough to cope with what caused the last mini Ice Age about 11,000 years ago. Time would become more refined. Intervals for work and feeding. The invention of sundials to break the days into hours and minutes. Splitting seconds came along in the last century with scientific breakthroughs. Atomic energy. Quantum Theory. Discovery of light speed. The refinements in the age of the Totality that is our Space Time Continuum. We've gone all the way from Planck Time to the Heat Death of the Universe...

...and we're fucked. The End. Curtain down. So, there's a limit to time, until it all starts again. Anyway, enough wasting time. The show's about to kick off...

"Hi. How are you doing? We're Mogwai from Scotland and it's nice to be back." Adoring roars as Mogwai commence a two-hour set comprising about 12 tunes and one song (of sorts) Opening track comes off as a tantalising mix of Spaceman Three monodronic plucking and fiery vintage Velvet Underground squalls of white noise and feedback. Very soothing and just what the true fans want to hear. Might have come from the new CD. They haven't gone interstellar yet and fragments and shards of melody drift deliciously through the mix. There's one bass, three guitars and a ferocious drummer who's cranking out the bpm's at a d n' b pace. Plus keyboards and electronics ranging from simple "Tunes R Us" level to screech-honking blasts of sonic delirium.

Found and treated sounds include bagpipes and wheezy panting pipe organs at times. That might be me though relapsing into a Kraftwerk moment. There also seems to be a subtle disorienteering interplay between band and mixer. Tunes rise, grabbing you by the throat and bellowing in your face. They dissipate leaving you drifting for what seems like a fortnight, before returning to shelter. There's even an endearing attempt at a song. Asking Nick how he would define the band's sound, he says "an ambient Jesus and Mary Chain". Apt in places. I can also hear echoes of Kraftwerk, the Electric Prunes raga riffs. There are vintage King Crimson freakouts, especially in the final tune. Now they sound like My Bloody Valentine, now like space whispers versus howls and gibbers from some cyber-mutant monkey house. Chilly atmospherics collide with MC5 freakouts. Early Floyd, say hello to a darker ambient Sigur Ros and cascades of shivertones and Frippertronics. Long groandrones and tinkly keyboards.

Massive fun. I'm a confirmed fan, but not as much of an anorak as Nick who knows at least 3 tune titles. In a nutshell, the concert was pretty much like this review. Expect the unexpected. Buy the ticket. Take the ride. Meander hither and yon. And enjoy. I did.

Click for the full, unabridged review...

Click for photos...

Feb 14:  A Little Valentine's Day Encounter

Yes, it's something I thought I'd never ever put into the Lamma-zine, a Hello Kitty sticker! But it's Valentine's Day today when even usually hard-nosed, tough and cynical guys can become all mushy, dripping with sweet sentiment, whispering sweet nothings into their beloved's ear...

Well, the Love of my Life, Lamma-Por, and I went for a romantic Dim Sum (much cheaper than a $500+ dinner) in Sampan Restaurant today, sharing a table with a Chinese elderly couple we didn't know. After the end of the meal, a Gwailo father was passing by with a pram and his cute, blonde daughter, about three years old, we guessed. She ran up to the elderly man and spontaneously hugged him, to his great surprise. She skipped up to us, not knowing us, answered a few questions - her name was Milly - and then peeled a tiny Hello Kitty sticker off an already almost emptied paper and stuck it onto Lamma-Por's dress (see above). I got a balloon sticker from this cute young lady, plus broad smiles. Then she ran back to her grinning daddy who was waiting and watching patiently a few metres away. They continued on their merry way down Main Street, doubtlessly blessing more people along the way with her stickers and spontaneous displays of genuine friendliness to perfect strangers.

I was so amazed by all this that I even forgot to take a picture! Soon afterwards it dawned on me what had just happened and how it would be hard to see this happening almost anywhere else in HK. "Don't talk to strangers!", would be the constant warning from parents, "Come back here right away!" The girl being brought up trusting enough to approach strangers and share her favourite stickers with them, without expecting anything in return, plus her daddy letting her do this, it's surprising and wonderful, IMHO (in my humble opinion). It says a lot about them and the safe, non-threatening and friendly village environment we live in. What a mentally healthy and strong, outgoing, amiable lady with great people skills this girl might grow up to become!

Well, maybe I'm just feeling a bit emotional, even sappy and infatuated with life in general today. You know this wonderful feeling of FOHAL (Full Of Happiness And Love), just being alive, healthy and feeling simply great that has almost nothing to do with money, flowers, presents or other worldly possessions? You don't? Hug your loved ones tightly today (and everyday) and feel it yourself...and make them feel it, too!

Feb 13: 

The Island Bar is celebrating Valentine's Day one day earlier than everybody else, on an "unlucky" Black Friday, Feb 13th - ahead of the times once again, it seems. But what's on in Yung Shue Wan tomorrow? One sign of the times, 11 red roses for just $180 on Main Street. But the prices of Valentine's Day dinners seem to be holding steady at around $500/couple, about half of the cost in town. B&B Rest. is already sold out, with The Waterfront also filling up quickly:

Valentine's Day Special menus (click to enlarge):
The Waterfront - B&B Bar & Rest. - New Holiday Mood

Feb 12:  51,272 Runners & a Very Happy 發 (Fat) Woman

Farha - Standard Chartered Marathon participant

(Text & clippings by Farha, click to read)

Before the race: "a fat woman"…

Last Sunday was the Hong Kong Marathon. My decision to participate was made one year ago, when I was loosing weight and exercised a lot. The prospect of running a marathon motivated me even more. I absolutely do not regret it for one second!!!

Since my decision I went through some difficult times and started smoking and putting on weight again. But keeping this upcoming marathon in mind helped me to get back on track, but this time I'll do it just for the fun and not for the physical performance. I thought, "One word: FUN! And come what may…."

During the race: "a 發 woman"

My costume was packed and I opened it only when I arrived at the starting area. People started to react positively to the costume. Before the race started, three officials came with their memo pads and interviewed me. I could hardly reach the starting line as everybody wanted to take a picture with the 'fat' mah-jong tile.

At that point, I thought because of my body weight and the costume, I'll do what I used to do: power walk. But that was without knowing how people would cheer me up along the way.

Then we heard the start! Everybody shouted merrily and began running. I followed the flow thinking that after 1 km I'll start power walking. But, honestly, the atmosphere was so cheerful and people were all giving great comments on my costume made with the main purpose of having FUN! I could hardly believe the effect of this costume! Finally, I ran all the way. Others were either clapping or showing their thumbs up saying, "fat choi, hou leng, hou lek, awesome, very good, very original", etc. After a while, there were some runners switching to walking. But when they saw this "發" Mah-jong tile, they started running again, catching up with me and taking a photo of me running! I have spent those 10 kms laughing and saying "thank you!" to people! My legs could not feel those 10K at all as I was completely enjoying seeing people laughing, having fun as I was having fun with them too.

After the race…
The surprising media coverage!

When I arrived, I was looking for hubby when official staff from the marathon came to me and asked me to follow them to take photos. I knew that everybody wearing a costume had to take a photo. It was written on the website, so I followed them. But on the way, so many journalists asked me for an interview Why I had chosen this "original, eye-catching" costume, how I made it, how long did it take, what do I think about the Hong Kong economy, how well I think the event was organised and so on and so on. I only remember the logos of NOW TV, TVB, and also Hong Kong marathon on their microphones. Then there were many many others whom I can't remember. There is even a journalist who asked her photographer to take a photo with me with her mobile phone after he had taken a photo with his professional camera.

All of this was very surprising and very enjoyable, hahahaha!

After the interviews and photos, a long time had passed during which hubby probably thought that I was dying exhausted on the road and still had not arrived, probably suffocating in that crazy costume!

He saw me arriving with a very big smile on my face. I told him what had just happened. People were still asking me to take photos with them. I took off the costume, threw it in a big dustbin, thinking that after all it was only material, but the main important thing to remember was the fun I had that day. This Hong Kong marathon 10K was only a short distance, but for me it represented an entire fun journey back to health: a sound mind in a sound body, and that was the message I carried with this particular Mah-jong tile.

Moreover, every marathon supports one or several community projects. Finally, running a marathon is one of the best ways to do something for yourself and give to the community.

SCM Post, click to read

HK Economic Times

Apple Daily

Feb 11:  'She's Crazy,' Said the Landlord, 'Completely Crazy'

Wendy Teasdill - Ex-Lammaite Yoga Teacher

(Story by Wendy, photo below by L-G, click for more photos.)

Outside Sally's Lamma Studio, after L-G's first-ever private yoga lesson, Feb 9, 2009.

More Archival Yoga on Lamma

In 1989 I started teaching slightly more formal yoga sessions on Lamma. I had a flat just below the power station and kept the living room completely empty - save for the murals of lilies and lotuses which I painted over every wall. I was gripped by the idea of the lotus, the lovely flower which floats serenely on the surface of the water while its roots grope for sustenance in the mud deep below.

'She's crazy,' said the landlord, 'completely crazy.'

The living room was big enough to hold about eight or nine people and their yoga mats for a rolling yoga class every Sunday. We started in the morning when the first person arrived and stretched on for hours - sometimes till late into the afternoon. People would come, stay for a session, and then move on, their places taken by others. We sweated and chatted, joked and gasped, fuelled by rivers of tea. The prohibitions and precautions which are so much a feature of the British Wheel of Yoga syllabus which I now teach were completely absent, but we were all young (well, younger than now, that's for sure), fit and bendy, and I encouraged everyone to stretch to their maximum capacity. We used straw beach mats and blankets damp with the humidity; cotton mattresses supported their shoulders in Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) as I hoisted them higher onto their thoracic spines.

It was a social occasion with quite a number of twists. A curious blend of smoke - incense of various provenances - and Kittaro billowed from the balcony and wafted across the unfurling green of the banana leaves, over the shushing leaves and yellow flowers of the trees whose name in Chinese translates as 'Lovers whispering to one another', to the ever-audible repetition of the sea's waves upon the beach. There was never any no food, and no money changed hands: the stretching, sweating bodies all belonged to friends and I didn't really cash - the British Council provided that.

I handed the Lily Pad over to Saskia, and again disappeared to other stories - to India, for two months at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, to China, Tibet and Nepal. When I returned, there was a place for me up in the hills, but there was no space for more than myself to do yoga there. The classes moved to the beach and went up-market: I put up a poster and began to charge.

At first the only person to reply to my advertisement was Pinky Chan. After the excitement engendered by that had died down, Roberta appeared - half an hour after I'd given up on anyone appearing. I met her on Power Station beach the following week, along with a few others. Interestingly, now I'd started charging - $HK50 per session - some people decided to drop out and others to drop in. Roberta, Jerry, Sally and Rodney were the regulars now, with half a dozen or so more bodies coming and going.

The yoga sessions took on a new identity: at five o'clock on a Sunday afternoon I'd write an AUM sign on a stone with a piece of charcoaled firewood from a left-over fire, light one stick of incense, which drifted weedily up into the wide open spaces of the sea air, and we'd do focussed standing postures for a few brief hours until it was truly dark. I worked them hard, using the terrain: the sloping beach was perfect for Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dog pose) and Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior pose), and instead of blocks for the hands in Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon pose) we used stones worn smooth by the attentions of the sea.

The words of BKS Iyengar rang forever in my bones: 'It is your DUTY to practise yoga every day!' Saturated in the Iyengar ethic, I encouraged them all to develop a fine repertoire in standing and sitting postures. As it was Sunday afternoon, we would sometimes find ourselves providing entertainment for small crowds of Chinese visitors. We ignored them as we took the opportunity to sharpen our focus - and when we thought about them again, inevitably they'd be gone.

Relaxation consisted of everyone lying down in a state of exhaustion while the waves of the sea did most of the work. Between the clanking of the Power Station and the dignified watch of Mount Stenhouse, the gentle rhythm of the South China evening sea seethed at the borders of pure consciousness, introducing a renewed, natural and effortlessly benign view of the world which never seems to quite wear off. For the waves followed me.

When I returned, pregnant, to live in the UK, it became apparent that to teach yoga I'd need a qualification. I trained with the British Wheel of Yoga, not only to teach yoga, but also to train teachers. I must have taught thousands of yoga classes since the mid-nineties - in black-walled drama studios, glossy purpose-built rooms with blonde-wood floors, damp barn conversions, rural retreats protected by sacred trees, soggy terrapins, glass-walled havens, stuffy meeting rooms with the sound of Body Pump classes racketing through from the gym below, on lawns under willow trees and in village halls of every description - but at the end of each one, the waves of Power Station Beach wash through the relaxation. Thanks to the combined influence of the British Wheel of Yoga's emphasis on modifications and the rather less fit and bendy state of the bodies I teach in the UK, I'm actually a more compassionate teacher than I used to be.

Year after year, those waves continue to sweep up any doubts I might ever have had about the wisdom of choosing freedom over all else.

Feb 8:  Serendipitous Stroll on a Spring Sun-day

Serendipity: ability to gain knowledge from accidental events,
lucky in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries.

Another glorious, warm and sunny spring Sunday with clear views, it's just too tough to remain indoors. The green and hills of Lamma are beckoning to be hiked once more. A few serendipitous chance encounters en-route can make it even more alluring and interesting. You never know who and what you're going to meet out there. Sorry, not a single picture taken this time, as I've taken too many pictures recently and still haven't caught up with processing them all. Going on a hike without incessantly taking pictures of everything, as I used to do, is a very different and more focused experience, even more rewarding sometimes. And some people seem to prefer viewing my photos only but rarely reading my full stories, tsk-tsk!

I'm starting my mid-day stroll - no bike this time - at the Boot Camp Sign-Up event in the new Island Life Studio behind the North Lamma Clinic. I'm meeting up with the very fit trainers, one of them dressed in military fatigues (think Demi Moore in G.I. Jane). More from them at the very first weekly session next Sunday morning at 8am which I hope to attend to take a few pictures of willing volunteers (IF I can make it out of bed.) I just narrowly avoid being drafted into the Boot Camp, using my knees as an excuse. Draft dodger!

A few pink and powerful dragonboaters also signed up for the Boot Camp, just before embarking on their first training session of the 2009 season. The Lamma Ladies and the Boot Campers still got a few places left for the not-faint-of-heart, who are eager to get drilled and have their physical fitness and mental toughness (and looks) dramatically increased before the summer season. Email the Boot Campers and/or Lamma Ladies if you have what it takes!

Continuing my Serendipitous Spring Sunday Stroll, I wander up to our local landmark and major tourist attraction, Lamma Winds. I'm timing myself at 14 minutes from Back Street via the quiet, paved path through the woods, via the Basket Ball court, Kindergarten, Open Space and Tai Ling village. A short rest, where to go next? Up and over Mount Panorama, onwards via the pavilion, down Cable Route the other side or around Mount Panorama to Tai Peng Village on the very little-known, but beautiful Back Passage and Snake Tail paths. Well, let's continue on one of my all-time favourite little Lamma hikes, the Snake Trail from Lamma Winds to the Youth Hostel.

Usually deserted, there are quite a few locals up there today, a Sunday, for example the local model aeroplane enthusiasts. Their gliders feature remote-controlled steering, but no propellers, so they soar in the warm updrafts rising up from Lo Tik Wan, like the ubiquitous Black-eared Kites nearby. But after all this majestic soaring, these very enthusiastic enthusiasts have to clamber enthusiastically through the dense brush on the steep hillsides to retrieve their gliders which have run out of updraft and usually land hard after just a few minutes. But they've got picnic baskets and even folding chairs up there to make themselves really comfy. They seem unperturbed and oblivious to the occasional passing-by and staring hiker like myself.

After greeting a few more intrepid hikers on the Snake Trail, while hiking up a steep hillside, I get overtaken by a fully geared-out mountainbiker. This is actually the first one I've seen up there in quite a few months (I usually don't hike on Sundays.) His friends follow behind closely and some of them stop at the very top, recognising me, calling me. This happens quite frequently, as even more people know me by sight now than I know in person so far. All the friendly and frequent compliments about my weight loss are appreciated but still feeling strange for somebody not accustomed to receiving compliments before. I might have been doing this website for too long, my sweet and treasured anonymity is almost gone.

The mountainbiking group of Lammaites introduce ourselves and it turns out that they are some of the major movers and shakers in the local, very active mountainbiking community. These are the amazingly fit and healthy studs helping out with the Lamma Enduro race, building local biking trails, running a website, etc, besides holding down full-time jobs in town. A serendipitous, unplanned chance meeting, indeed. The Lamma-zine hopes to hear more soon from this little-known, low-profile local group who feels misunderstood sometimes.

We chat for quite some time about hiking and mountainbiking on Lamma. They dare to tease me about me not joining them yet, using my own mountain bike only on the paved paths all over Lamma but never off-road so far. My excuses? I might not be able to afford all that fancy, fashionable, protective gear so mandatory for off-road biking, or I might be simply trying to get fit without breaking, dislocating, twisting or scraping any parts of my body, or I might just be chicken....

The bikers continue to the Lamma Quarry and I continue my hike to the Youth Hostel and down to the crowded Family Trail, the only trail over 95% of Lamma visitors ever seem to use. Dance music is thumping all the way from Power Station Beach and I change the destination of my stroll spontaneously. Planning on a salad as a late lunch in the Concerto Inn hotel on Hung Shing Yeh beach, I'm tempted by a grilled chicken wing, a few crackers and a Gatorade from the beachfront Cavia restaurant instead. A really cheap but unusually big and quite satisfying lunch for somebody still on a long-term (almost one year now) eat-half diet. Some Lamma-zine readers have been pointing out that I don't seem to write so much about food and restaurants anymore.... Anybody would like to help out? Refueled, I proceed onwards to Power Station Beach to see what the noisy commotion is all about.

Sleiman's 40th birthday party had been raging all night, I find out. Tent on the beach, bonfire, BBQ and Mr Beach Party's professional sound equipment, his own generator and major Bose speakers; no wonder I could hear them from the Youth Hostel! The few remaining survivors are not dancing anymore, but are still awake and lucid enough to update me on the news in their lives, resulting in several potential future Lamma-zine stories (another Artist of the Month) and photo shoots (Lamma's most amazing ruin) beckoning.

A very nice lady in a swimsuit (who recognises me and calls out to me who didn't know her before) tries to convince me to go for swims instead of gyms. Then she recounts seeing a suspicious fin in the sea recently, mentions potentially bird flu-infected wild birds washing up on a Lantau shore and describes her last jellyfish encounter and how it took a week for all the itchy, burning bumps to heal. I'm not quite convinced yet to go swimming in the sea. But she convinces me to write more about my weight loss/health/fitness adventure and that's what I'm doing right now!

Oh, by the way, Happy Birthday, Sleiman! I hope to get invited to your next major birthday party, maybe your 50th?

I take a shortcut through the woods from Power Station Beach via Wang Long Village, while listening to the Sunday beach drum circle pounding away. I crawl home, looking forward to a steamed fish dinner, knees complaining, slightly dehydrated, physically tired after a 3-hour stroll. But I'm mentally invigorated, inspired and reaffirmed in my belief that Lamma and its community is just a fantastic place to live a happy & healthy life!

Feb 7:  Jobs for the Boys

Summer students working in New Holiday Mood.
Story printed in English Street, a magazine for HK students.
It was photographed from the outside wall of the restaurant where manager Ricky proudly displays his media clippings, including the Lamma-zine ones.

Click to enlarge and read Ian Watson's fun story.

Feb 6:  A Boot Camp? On Lamma?

Feb 5:  New Baby Group

There are some little creative art projects happening on the walls of Yung Shue Wan, sometimes unintentionally. Case in point, several different posters promoting a "New Baby Group" a number of weeks ago. The posters were all inkjet-printed and not waterproof, so they started to change and morph into "abstract art" as soon as they got rained on. Some of them turned into some pretty interesting blobs and patterns, making our village walls even more colourful and fascinating:

Feb 4: 

Dan Peterson - Co-owner, The Island Bar  (text & photos, click to enlarge)

Clive – In Memoriam

A rather larger than usual, albeit somewhat subdued crowd, gathered at The Island Bar on Sunday. A small group had attended the Cape Collinson Crematorium to say farewell to Clive Brook-Fox around midday and regrouped at The Island Bar at 3:00pm to raise a glass in Clive's honour.

As well as many Lamma friends, some of Clive's close acquaintances from his business and sailing days came along to show their respects. Son Ralph who had been here in Hong Kong during his father's latter days, was joined by his partner Roberta and Clive's older brother Julian who were given a short tour of Lamma and introduced to Clive's favourite areas.

Clive's family were welcomed into the heart of Lamma and we hope to see more of them in the future in finer circumstances.

Refreshments were provided courtesy of Ralph with a delicious array of food supplied by Cath's Banyan Tree Café, Geng's Lamma Gourmet deli and The Waterfront.

Clive will be long remembered as the character who sat at the corner of The Island Bar with his pipe, sometimes keeping to himself and his daily crossword, sometimes engaging in spirited and occasionally controversial conversations about the state of the world or the start of mankind amongst other salient issues. A plaque to honour Clive will be put in place in due course above his regular seat.

Clive – a long term friend, an honourable man, fondly remembered. RIP.

Harry Harrison's cartoon, inspired by Clive's "WARNING! Asian Giant Hornets" poster,
plus our forum it inspired.


Click for more photos from the
funeral and wake, by Mr DickStock

Clive's son Ralph on the left

Julian, Clive's brother
(photo by Mr DickStock)

Roberta at far end of the table laden with Lamma Ladies

CNY Unicorn Dance during the wake was courtesy of The Island Bar's good neighbours, the Man Fung Restaurant.

Clive's stool in The Island Bar

Feb 3:  'You Great Big Idiot!'

I love getting feedback from my readers, good and bad. But this subject line in an email from a dear friend today took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud. She was referring to my SkyJump off the Macau Tower yesterday ("the world's highest", see right), calling it "Pure Unadulterated Idiocy" and she's stopped "admiring you for your sense and sensibility!"

Well, I called it "great fun!" and another major milestone in my weight loss/health/ fitness journey. After a pre-jump video interview on the platform - asking encouraging questions like "Your last words?" - they hooked me up to an amazingly thin steel wire (see above). But jumping off that narrow ledge on the 61/F, 233 metres above ground, into empty air was really the toughest part and took all my courage, trust and confidence...

After a short drop I was dangling like an oversized fish from an angler's line a few metres out in front of the Observation Deck on the 58/F for what felt like a very long time. I started waving at the gawking spectators who waved back excitedly, before I was lowered down very rapidly into a huge air mattress. Going back up I had to take the elevator which takes a lot longer (55 seconds) than the descent of just a few seconds. Several of the spectators, even a security guard, came up to me afterwards, cheering and congratulating me on the jump, asking questions.

Of course, I've got the photos, video, certificate, T-shirt and wrist bracelet as memories. It's all a well-organised, professional "Adventure Activity" and (probably, hopefully) as safe as an amusement park thrill ride. A more expensive, head-over- heels bungy jump (see left, the guy jumping soon after me) might be in my future.

But Lamma-Por, suffering from severe altitude sickness, even inside the Observation Deck, offered this "official" comment for this story: "Lamma-Gung has gone nuts!" Aww, all this sweet flattery from her and my friend above will get them everywhere. It might probably even encourage me to attempt something more daring next time, like the Mast Climb to the very top, maybe...

Feb 2:  Feisty & Flashy Flamboyance

Visiting Macau for one night to celebrate Lamma-Por's birthday, we were astonished by the Chinese New Year lighting displays all over town and the outrageous, ostentatious, over-the-top casinos; especially the Grand Lisboa, Stanley Ho's proud and shame-free display of virility and upmanship, showing the new-arrival Las Vegas tycoons who's still the King of Macau, even buying our hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, a few days before our arrival.
A few of my Macau snapshots:

After all this visual and auditory overload I had to cool down in the resort's outdoor swimming pool, being the only hotel guest out there on a cool Monday morning, frolicking under the warm waterfalls in the Jacuzzi (more Shoulder Massage by Waterfall) and diving to the deep rock pool's bottom.

But then I was getting addicted to their thrill ride water slide... going down eight times... missing the noon checkout time... returning to the hotel room and finding it empty and made up for the next guest. Lamma-Por had checked out by herself already and returned to her favourite 10-cent slot machine, surprisingly winning over 200 dollars. After all the expenses of the day, Lamma-Por's birthday cake consisted of some simple, cheap but very yummy Macau-style egg tarts, carried all the way home to Lamma! B&B Restaurant supplied a candle for our egg tarts (see above right) and they even sang a birthday song.

Feb 1:  20-Cylinder Engine With PLF Spin-Cycle

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, photos, videos, etc.

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