Scottish Simon Says:
"Recently our team - Lamma United - entered into
the 48 Hour Film Project (http://www.48hourfilm.com)
and was shown at the Grand Cinema at Elements last
Saturday along with 20 other entries from across Hong Kong. All
movies had to be between 4 and 7 minutes long.
Members from each team gathered at Yumla in Central on
Friday 15th October at 7pm where we picked one of 14 genres out
of the hat - we got drama - and all teams had to incorporate a
prop (headphones), a character (Tina or Tony Chan, a HK
journalist) and a line of dialogue ("Excuse me, I think this is
yours.") into their script.
We had only 48 hours to write, act, edit and deliver our
final film to Yumla by 7pm on Sunday 17th October. A pretty
Many people have asked if our 7-minute film
To Whom It
May Concern is going to be screened on Lamma, so this
Sunday we'll be doing 2 premiere screenings."
"It Came From Lamma..."
The biggest Lamma show
of the year not on Lamma!
Lamma Island's *FOUR* Scariest Bands *Raise the Dead* in Wanchai!
Transnoodle, The Curs,
Swapp Things & Bahouki:
Sat, Oct 30, 10pm
Xperience, G/F Asia Orient Tower, 33 Lockhart Rd, Wanchai
(Back entrance next to The Wanch, front one next to Swindler's):
A wild and eclectic night of punkabilly /
global ska / trashy country / celtic crazines, plus Comedians, Mummers and Tramps.
A Transylvanian, err, Transnoodlian writes:
Fancy Dress welcome but not required.
Transnoodle will shock and surprise (and possibly anger).
We wanted to do this show on Lamma, but it was just gonna be TOO
SEE The Curs shockabilly alt.country jug-band blasphemies.
HEAR Transnoodle tackle Blue Oyster Cult.
DRINK because you'll bloody need to.
Bands have vowed to take sampans home.
*SAMPANS WILL BE HAPPENING* Call 2143 6008. FREE!
Haunted House Party:
Sun, Oct 31, 7-10pm:
Hans Andersen Centre, Tai Wan Village, YSW:
"We Are Funny Ghosts", free, in Cantonese, supplemented w/Eng.
P.S. If that's not enough events for you for one weekend,
there'll be another Cultural Melting Pot
- Island Festival this Sunday, at Discovery Bay.
I've been invited to help representing Lamma - another (unpaid)
assignment for this "Unofficial Lamma Ambassador". I'll report back in
words & pictures, of course.
The next one in this series of Outlying Islands
Festivals will take place in
Yung Shue Wan on Sunday, Nov 21:
Picture by Jay Scott Kanes (picture cropping by L-G,
still trying to hold on to my before-weight-loss policy of "No pictures, please, I'm too shy!").
wearing my limited-edition (4 printed worldwide), full-colour
DickStock XV T-shirt. It was a great conversation starter; I met some of the
people actually voting for Lamma and one of the Hyde bartenders worked in
the Lamma Power Station before!
The award plaque can be viewed in Lammadonna's office, a
public place where anybody can enter during office hours and view it. This
makes more sense than displaying it in my "secret hideaway" Lamma-zine home
In addition to our Official Court Pet Correspondent
and Lamma-Por, we were joined by North Lamma District Councilor
Lammadonna & Mr Leung Siu Tong, Islands District Councilor and
holder of the most impressive number of titles I've ever seen on a single,
folded name card:
Clean out your cupboards!
If you have
that are in
but you no
put them to
good use and
to Lamma Fun
go to CWS. We have
Room 303, St
hours 9:30 -
Lamma Fun Day needs
volunteers to help
on the day. There's
always plenty to do,
whether it's running
selling food or
second hand goods.
Enjoy your day out
even more by
donating a couple of
hours of your time!
Find out more...
If you want
to be a bit
get a team
to be won!
Bid for an
auction item or buy
fantastic items up
in Phuket, Cirque du
Soleil tickets with
a backstage tour and
much more! Make a
bid, win a great
prize and support
CWS. There will also
be a range of goods
for sale plus a
great food and
Jay Scott Kanes
Court Pet Correspondent -
(Pictures and story by Jay Scott Kanes)
Dedicated Pro Works Like a Dog
One of Hong Kong's top
public-relations pros never issues press releases.
Relying on a different forte, he's the slickest,
most-devoted doorway-greeter and photo-poser in the
Nearly every day, Panda, a
congenial, 10-year-old, mongrel dog, handles PR duties
at the Artlab gift shop on Lamma's Main Street. From the
doorway, this pet greets passing pedestrians and
welcomes them into the shop. Constantly, people pause to
caress him. Often they want him to pose for photos.
Probably even a rival celebrity, the nearby Nick the
Bookman, isn't photographed more.
"Panda is much more than
just a pet," said Artlab proprietor Agnes Tam. "His job
is as my PR manager, and he quite enjoys it.
"Panda has a special
character," she added. "When you talk to him, he knows
what you mean. More than other dogs, he shows some human
qualities in his thinking.
"He's very nice and always
friendly to people. If people show friendliness to him,
he enjoys it very much. If they want to play with him or
take photos with him, he's very co-operative. He'll sit
or stand without moving, just like a person striking a
pose. People can take lots of photos with him."
Plenty of repeat visitors
to Lamma deliberately visit the Artlab looking for
Panda. Some ignore the merchandise and try to negotiate
to buy Panda instead.
Fat chance! Agnes considers
Panda an outstanding employee who works hard for modest
pay. "Some people come into my shop just for Panda," she
said. "Others don't come inside. They stay outside, just
sitting there with Panda."
In appreciation, Agnes uses
Panda's image on souvenir postcards, painted
refrigerator magnets, ceramic-tile coasters and other
items for sale. "He gives me inspiration," she said.
"The market for products with his picture has been quite
Panda makes friends
elsewhere on the Main Street, at Power Station Beach and
near Hongkong Electric's windmill too. "Even in those
places, he approaches strangers and sits with them,
often for a long time," Agnes said.
In a way, Panda does PR
work for the entire dog species. When he greets some
people, they react with fear, even panic. "I don't mind
if a few people run away," Agnes said. "When Panda
stands at my shop's doorway, more people gain exposure
to dogs and can realize that dogs, including mongrels,
aren't so scary. Any frightened person who really does
touch Panda and visit with him won't be frightened
anymore. Then Panda will have done his job really well.
"Too many Hong Kong people
come from the city and give bad impressions to their
children. Seeing dogs, they point at them and tell the
youngsters, 'Ah! Stay away from them. They will bite
you.' Parents saying that give their children a wrong
"Panda easily shows people
that mongrel dogs, or any dogs, are friendly if you're
friendly to them. When problems happen, they usually
start with the people, not the animals."
Sometimes Panda finds time
in his busy schedule to nap on the shop floor. When
customers arrive, he rouses himself to resume PR duties.
If everything's quiet in
the shop, Panda may step outside for a stroll. "That's
when he walks around, touring the village," Agnes said.
"He knows every shop. Other shopkeepers don't mind him
because he's so friendly to everyone. He just stays
without annoying anyone. If someone dislikes him, he
knows and goes away. Panda's understanding of the
neighborhood is very good. He knows more people than I
Agnes doesn't mind when
Panda temporarily steps out or even works briefly on PR
at other businesses. "I just want Panda to be happy, to
enjoy himself," she said.
As part of his pay, Panda
often accompanies Agnes to teashops and restaurants.
Sometimes they go together for dim sum at the Sampan
Restaurant. "That makes him very happy too," Agnes said.
"People say it's no good to give human food to dogs, but
he likes it. He's getting older (showing bits of grey),
so I try to give him what he enjoys."
Not originally from Lamma,
Panda arrived as a two-month-old puppy, having ridden
the ferry inside a backpack. One of Agnes' friends had
found him wandering amid garbage on Cheung Chau.
"That friend took a small
dog out of his backpack and said, 'Wow! This puppy is
beautiful and needs someone to care for him.'"
Smitten, Agnes and her
husband Luke adopted the puppy whose black-and-white fur
led another friend to suggest the name Panda. "He looked
very lovely, like a small panda bear," Agnes recalled.
"It was our first time
keeping a dog. Until then, I used to be a little afraid
of dogs too. Now I'm no longer fearful to touch dogs or
cats. In fact, if any dog or cat doesn't approach me,
then I'm unhappy."
To Panda's credit, he's one
of just a few Lamma dogs whose guardians took the
trouble to escort him into the city for a temperament
test that allowed him to qualify as a therapist in the
Animals Asia Foundation's Doctor Dog program. For a
while, he traveled to the city and visited with people
confined to hospitals and seniors homes.
Panda's well suited for
that work too. "He knows what people feel and
understands their moods," Agnes said. "If you're happy,
he's happy. If you're sad, he stays beside you. If you
like him, he kisses you."
But Panda's busy schedule
in PR means he's no longer an active Doctor Dog.
In 1996, Agnes and Luke
moved to Lamma as newlyweds. Once Panda joined the
family, they enjoyed his company so much that they
adopted three more dogs: Cable, a seven-year-old male
initially found wandering on Lamma's Cable Road; Chu Chu,
an eight-year-old female; and Dan Dan, an 11-year-old
Even so, Panda prefers to
socialize with people. "He likes people much more than
other dogs," Agnes said. "Maybe he's a little angry at
us for adopting more dogs. He was our first, and now
he's slightly jealous of the others."
That minor grievance fades
away when Panda goes to work at the store. After all,
he's a professional, a real social animal.
"He enjoys meeting people
in the shop more than being at home," Agnes said. "I'm
very proud of him."
Public relations in
action: Panda entices a young woman toward the stop
If anyone has tasty
snacks near Panda's workplace, he offers to help them.
Eager to socialize, Panda
joins a table at a popular rest.
Pay day: Panda waits as
Agnes orders dim sum.
Temporarily Panda steps
in as a greeter at the Sampan Restaurant.
Supreme satisfaction: the
look of a dog enjoying his career.
Ready to greet guests, Panda stands in the shop’s
As a puppy, Panda dreams
of a promising future on Lamma.
Autumn Sunday morning in the Lamma hills behind Lamma Winds.
(click to enlarge)
Meeting this troupe of Feral Puppy Rescuers by chance on my speed-hiking
constitutional to Lamma Winds, I decided to tag along and act as
Hiding deep in the bushes, till I heard faint noises and then spotted them
Dr. John gotcha! --
First-ever contact with humans, just 6+ weeks old.
So amazed that these puppies didn't offer any resistance, after just yelping
a bit when picked up, but then cuddled up to their rescuers right away, no
biting and scratching at all, just some frightened bowel movements...
Diane and her new friend -- Rescued not far from Lamma Winds.
I've asked one of the valiant puppy picker-uppers for a few words. By the
way, these very cute puppies are looking for fosters and adopters!
Lamma Animal Welfare Centre:
cute little puppies, 6 in all,
that were rescued from the hills
today only serve to illustrate
the lunacy of the Government's
refusal to support a systematic
Trap/ Neuter/Return policy for
feral dogs in Hong Kong.
existing system, whereby ferals
are rounded up and killed, does
nothing to solve the problem of population control. For every
dog taken out a vacancy is
created for one to move in.
That's the way nature works -
replenishing the stock until the
carrying capacity of the
environment is reached. Only
effective sterilisation and
return is effective, as studies
around the world show.
It is important for people to
look beyond the short term and
urge the Government to adopt the
only humane and effective method
of dealing with the feral dog
supply. Until they do, we will
continue to find more and more
little bundles of pups in the
by Anonymous Guy, Lamma's
best wildlife photographer.
This is the exact hornet species that stung my foot a few weeks ago,
as identified by bicolor. It took Guy about 200+ shots with a Nikon dSLR to get this almost
perfect shot of this only 1 inch long insect.
New bird photos by Anonymous Guy (Welcome back to our
HK Magazine, Friday, Oct 22, 2010:
- Deputy Editor -
Magazine's readers have chosen
in the HK Magazine Readers' Choice Awards 2010.
and celebrate with us (and pick up your shiny
at our cocktail party and presentation ceremony.
Hope you are all well. I email
with exciting news--Lamma has won an award in
our Readers' Choice Awards! We're having a party
to celebrate (see above). Proper e-invites to
follow soon. We're also doing a special "awards"
issue of HK Magazine this week, so keep an eye
out for a copy, out Friday, 22 Oct.
Also, Lamma was judged runner-up
in the categories "Best Place to Take
Tourists" (behind The Peak) and "best
Hong Kong hideaway" (behind Sai Kung).
We are absolutely thrilled that plucky
Lamma has triumphed in our Readers' Choice Awards. It
only confirms what we have long-known about your lovely
I understand that HK and Lamma have had
a--shall we say--complicated relationship over the
years, but please rest assure that any ribbing on our
part is fully intended as good-natured banter, and we
hope they are received in the spirit that they are
meant. After all, what other Outlying Island would keep
such a good sense of humor? Certainly not Discovery Bay!
Unfortunately, distribution of the
magazine falls out of my jurisdiction, but we do have
similar complaints from Lantau residents of not being
able to find it.
(L-G: I was complaining about not a
single distribution point for HK Magazine anywhere on
Lamma.] May I suggest nominating one bold Lammaite
to pinch a dozen copies from another distributor in
Central and convey them to Yung Shue Wan for all to
enjoy? [L-G: Or
download the weekly PDF file for your PC or eBook
You may also be pleased to know that HK
Mag is now available in PDF format and the full book
(plus lovely ads) can be sent to your email every
Wednesday afternoon. Sign up at our website:
Here at HK we do see Lamma-Gung as a
Lamma "ambassador". Obviously you feel very passionately
about the island and you really put yourself out there
with your articles about Lamma life, and also your
campaigns to make Lamma an (even) better place to live.
In our eyes there was no question that we'd love to have
you picking up the award. However, if you feel your
District Councilor's nose may be put out of joint with a
lack of an invite, we can definitely ask him/her to come
by as well.
If your rabble feel as though must
stuff all the vegetarian canapes in their pockets as a
snack for the ferry ride home, please try not to do so
during the speeches.
[L-G: Lammadonna & friends were eager to tag
along with our "mooching hippie rabble".]
All joking aside though, congratulations
again, and hope to see you at our awards party.
P.S. To follow our forum
discussion about this prestigious, glorious, magnificent honour and get the
Coolest Outlying Island award.
Boost Campers in the YSW Basketball Court, 2 evenings per week; highly
recommended by Lamma-Gung who's been attending for several months now,
seeing astonishing progress by working out with this fun and relaxed
Lunging, squatting, twisting, jumping, running, pushing-up, stretching...
Donna the Herbalicious, aka "The Body Booster"
"Plankety-plank hanky-panky!" -- Star jumps -- Yoga body twister
Recovering...getting ready for the next "burst" of exercise!
(all photos by L-G)
the Stylish Producer, Andy the Riff Raff, Meg the Dream Girl:
(Photos for this "Sponsored Feature" by Stylus HK Theatre.
Text based on my email interview with Andy & Meg.)
Andy Fullard and Meg Teckman are performing once again in a Stylus
HK Musical Theatre performance. He's playing Riff Raff, the servant
handy man of Frank N. Furter and Meg is one of the Dream Girls
singers and a member of the very flirty chorus.
Both of them are very ambitious performers with a
huge love of all things Musical Theatre. The chance to dress up
in provocative, outlandish clothing as well as blasting their way
through some of the best rock'n'roll numbers theatreland has to
offer was too good an opportunity to pass up. (By the way, the photo
above is NOT showing Andy & Meg, but the lead actors playing
Janet and Frank N. Furter.)
The show has very much a "free to do what I want,
any old time" vibe to it and allows its characters to pretty much be
"debaucherous" and devoid of cares, much like most of the Saturday
nightlife on Lamma!
They can't think of any real comparisons with Lamma
figures, but it would be interesting to see someone like Nick the
Bookman playing the mad rock'n'roll punk Eddie!
Sadly they won't be in their colourful and fancy
show outfits on Lamma on Halloween, but only because the show is
running on that night! The show runs from 27th October until 31st
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW
A FULL STAGE PRODUCTION OF THE CULT SHOW
October 27th – 31st 2010
8pm (and 11.55pm on Saturday 30th October)
Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Wanchai
English (with Chinese synopsis provided)
Box office opens on September 27th at
Stall tickets 300 HKD,
Circle tickets 250 HKD
16yrs+ (adult content and sexual themes)
The Rocky Horror Show is one of the most popular
cult shows of all time. It began as a stage show in London in June
1973. A massively popular motion picture, The Rocky Horror Picture
Show followed. This is a full stage version including all of the
Synopsis: Brad and Janet, a newly-engaged all-American couple, are
forced to seek help at a lonely castle after a flat tyre. There they
meet the transvestite scientist, Dr Frank N. Furter and his minions
who lead them on a journey of sexual self-discovery that will leave
them both changed forever.
Key songs: Time Warp, Sweet Transvestite, Toucha Touch Me
Principal cast members: Brad – Doug Pyle, Janet – Kim Haslam, Frank
– Daren Durkin
Director Adam Harris's credits in Hong Kong include Equus, Private
Lives, Journey's End, The Merchant of Venice and the 2006 production
of The Rocky Horror Show.
P.S. More Lammaites Rocking Halloween, also in Wanchai.
Click below for details or check out their
Facebook event page:
Jo Wilson -
There has been much debate on the
Welcome Wall. I'd like to give you a bit of
background information and also let you know about the
launch of a design competition to enhance the appearance
of the wall.
The Welcome Wall was included in the
booklet produced for the Stop the Mess! campaign,
which contained 253 photographs of rubbish black spots,
rusty railings, and other areas that had fallen into
disrepair or become eyesores on Lamma. This booklet was
prepared by Living Lamma and presented to different
government departments in a series of meeting this year.
Though the wall serves a valuable service, being a
communications board for the community, it had fallen
into disrepair and was in need of renovation.
It took several months to ascertain who
should be responsible for the upkeep of the wall. The
Home Affairs Department (HAD) has now taken charge.
In fact, HAD is co-ordinating other government
departments and is actively working its way through the
the other photos in Living Lamma's booklet. The recent
replacement or repainting of rusty railings and removal
of rubbish on Tai Peng Hill are part of these efforts.
I'm even told that the Water Services Department will
soon be repainting their building in Yung Shue Long.
Things are happening and we are really pleased so far
with the response. It has taken a monumental effort, but
we are now moving in the right direction.
Why is it so difficult to clean up
things on Lamma?
Like other places in the New
Territories, the question of land ownership often gets
in the way. For instance, in Tai Peng New Village, the
government wants to put a hand railing on the stairs and
the side of the path where there is a rather nasty drop.
Unfortunately, about 5 metres of this path falls on
private land and so government needs the permission of
the licensee before they extend the fence along the most
dangerous part of the path. Though government has
written to the licensee, they have not received a
response and therefore can only partially fence the
path. The owner may be unaware of the situation, but the
government officers are not empowered to take further
In the same area, there is now a huge
stockpile of green waste, which is too big to compost
effectively and which has also been used as a dumping
ground for other rubbish over time. Though government
contractors have been responsible for depositing some of
the green waste on private land, most likely
unwittingly, (there is nothing anywhere to indicate the
boundaries and the area concerned extends back from the
bin area), the government cannot clean it up because it
is private land. For the private land owner, there will
be costs involved in clearing this pile of which he
probably has no knowledge.
Living Lamma is trying to work with
government and the local community to solve these
problems. The response from the Rural Committee has been
fantastic and we are now working with Chairman Chan to
identify the right people to talk to and see what can be
done. In the case of Tai Peng New Village, we will be
speaking to the village heads and trying to take further
steps to contact the licensee. We will also offer
assistance to help private land owners who have waste on
their land that they want to clear.
And now back to the issue of the
First there was the question of ownership to overcome,
which after months of no-one seeming to know the answer,
HAD resolved by taking charge of the renovation. Then
the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) had
to come and clean it, which was when the notices were
first removed and the wall was power sprayed.
Contractors for HAD then repaired and painted it.
Living Lamma did not have any say over
the colour. In fact, when the scaffolding first
appeared, I was straight on the phone to HAD, thinking
"Dear God, don't let them paint it pink!" I was
told that the paint had already been ordered and that it
was "monochrome." A couple of phone calls later and we
had ascertained that indeed, monochrome meant grey, the
colour of concrete.
But don't worry. The grey wall is a
TEMPORARY measure. We have a document from HAD stating
"A further beautification works will
be done and we shall invite the locals/Living Lamma to
provide a draft painting design. Beautification works
will commence right away upon the confirmation of the
In the meantime, I have been told
repeatedly that residents are
welcome to continue to post notices on the Welcome Wall
(and don't worry if a bit of paint comes off, it's
temporary after all!)
So the next step is to invite all
artists, architects, designers and landscapers (of any
age) to take part in the design
competition. Living Lamma is working with the
Rural Committee to organise this and posters outlining
the competition details within the next week or so.
We are also looking for a small
committee of volunteers to help encourage people to
participate and with general co-ordination. If anyone
would like to help, please contact Jo Wilson at 2982
Details of the competition will, of
course, be posted on the Welcome Wall and on
Read more about the
Democracy, err, Welcome, err,
Democracy Wall as the status seems to
be changing almost daily right now:
The 'Democracy Wall' - a discussion.
HK Philosophy Cafe - Lamma Branch:
Photos by Cindy (above) and L-G (below)
all accounts, the first meeting of the Lamma Island
Branch of the Hong Kong Philosophy Café was a roaring
success. Graciously hosted by Ken of the Bookworm
Cafe (wearing a "Prayer Warrior" T-shirt for the
occasion, see right), over 20 of us gathered to think,
question, learn, and most importantly dialogue on the
topic of meditation as considered from within a
Our esteemed guest presenter, The
Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD., an Episcopal priest
for 35 years, spoke with a warm and unaffected manner
about one of her greatest passions, Centering Prayer,
a Christian form of meditation. She revealed her
interest in meditation to not be restricted within the
Christian domain only, citing studies of the effects of
meditation upon the brain that are well funded by the
Dalai Lama. Also a member of The Spiritual Paths
community where the practitioners of many the world's
major religious/spiritual paths practice together within
a context of mutual respect and sharing, Cynthia pointed
out that it is in meditative practice that that the
world's religions come closest to touching.
part of the Bookworm's decorations to make a
Louise, a café participant posed a
direct challenge to the concept of Christian meditation:
"Why do we need to associate our
meditation with any religion at all?" Cynthia
responded positively, affirming that the beneficial
neural response to meditative practice is not dependant
upon the religious context, but that meditation will
bring about naturally a marvelous awe of our cosmos and
ultimately some sense of the universal as personal,
relational and unitive.
Wonderful! So, how much should we
meditate? "As little as possible" suggests
Cynthia. Explaining her surprising response, she
suggests that it isn't helpful for meditation, itself,
to just become another addiction. Rather, a meditative
practice should support the broadening and calming of
our minds so that our "doings" are positive and loving.
The meeting was attended by wide range
of Lamma and non-Lamma persons, seeming ranging in
religious interest from atheist, Buddhist, agnostic,
liberal and even fundamentalist Evangelical Christians.
There was also a nice mixture of Chinese and non-Chinese
as well as a range of different levels of English
fluency. There will always be some who can assist with
translation. Feedback after the event was almost
unanimously positive except for some difficulty with
extraneous noise and difficulty in hearing the speaker.
Cynthia herself affirmed her enjoyment
of the event in no uncertain terms:
you for a perfectly delightful evening on Lamma
Island--not only one of the best nights I've ever had in
Hong Kong, but in my life! What a treat to gather in the
delightfully funky and welcoming Bookworm Café,
surrounded by spiritual seekers from all over the globe,
sharing their deepest thoughts in two languages! It was
a glimpse of the human spirit all too rarely visible
these days in our sanitized, commercialized world, and I
loved every minute of it!"
Our next meeting will be at
7:00 p.m. on November 7th,and meetings will
follow on the first Sunday evening of subsequent months.
Professor Steven Palmquist, founder of the Hong
Kong Philosophy Café pointed out that usually meetings
will not have external guest speakers, but topics will
be mostly generated by members of the Café itself.
We are looking for topics and presenters for upcoming
meetings! Presentations of a topic can range between
5 and 20 minutes and may be presented in whatever
fashion the presenter chooses. Some topics that have
been suggested so far include:
Are mixed or intercultural marriages
less likely to succeed?
Should we love our jobs?
(Questions that might be posed by different
spiritual/religious groups on Lamma including atheists
So, if you are looking to exercise the
gray matter and build some new community connections,
come on out to our next café meeting!
Various reactions to the discussions
(Cynthia in center, Tavis 2nd from right)
Jay Scott Kanes
Court Pet Correspondent -
(Pictures and story by Jay Scott Kanes)
China's National Day:
Time for Monkeys
A COUNTRY PARK,
Hong Kong – On the recent holiday weekend for
China's National Day (October 1), the official events in
Hong Kong and those on television from the Chinese
mainland shared a common problem – the wearisome
presence of government officials.
Eager to spend my time with
more noble companions, I located some tiny individuals
(many about the size of former Chinese president Deng
Xiaoping) who may look and act much like government
officials. But they're vastly more interesting.
My quest led to the Monkey
Hill in a country park north of Kowloon. That's home to
many of Hong Kong's several thousand macaque monkeys,
who appear there perched on posts, clinging to trees and
ambling along hillsides. Never mind that most of Hong
Kong's real monkey-business happens in company
boardrooms, SAR government buildings and the Liaison
Office of the Central People's Government.
Even when stepping from a
taxi, I spotted monkeys near the roadside. Serious
jaywalkers, some of the primates scramble dangerously
between passing cars on the busy highway.
Safety-conscious ones use a nearby overhead pedestrian
These monkeys aren't shy.
Some sat on a road leading into the park, reluctantly
stepping aside when a car or truck turned off the
highway and approached. Others clung to the highway
railings as if ready to hail taxis. One rested a paw
against a PCCW phone booth. Did he plan to place a call?
When a taxi stopped to
deliver another human visitor, a monkey hopped onto its
red engine bonnet. Instead of welcoming this potential
fare, the cabbie shooed away the animal.
Prominent posters in the
park warn visitors to "protect yourself from monkeys"
and to "stop feeding feral monkeys". They caution
against "eating when monkeys are watching you".
Initially, I envisioned
staying alert to prevent the monkeys from stealing my
spectacles, wallet or even camera. Maybe they'd turn the
tables by photographing me instead of vice-versa.
Actually, most of the
macaques behaved like tolerant hosts. Youngsters,
seniors or in-between, they showed little fear or
hostility. If I avoided sudden moves, they let me
quietly approach and expressed few objections as I shot
photos at close range. Despite their failure to smile on
cue, I doubted if professional fashion models could
Peering into the faces,
especially of older monkeys, gave me powerful
impressions of savvy and wisdom. I never feel such
sensations from TV images of Chinese president Hu
Jintao or Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang.
Unperturbed by my presence,
the monkeys continued their regular activities –
climbing, foraging, munching on plants, toting babies,
ambling about, checking for insects in each other's fur,
watching humans for possible food handouts and even
(apparently) meditating. The favorite multi-task
involved napping as a partner inspected and picked
impurities from one's fur. That looked as relaxing as a
Allegedly, most wild
monkeys in Hong Kong have descended from pets released
in the 1920s. One variation, the rhesus macaque, is
native to southern China. The animals like to live in
large groups. Up to 200 may eat, sleep and hang out
together. Females can breed by age four and then give
birth to a baby per year.
Hong Kong's Wild Animals
Protection Ordinance forbids anyone without a permit
from feeding the monkeys. Offences may lead to fines of
HK$10,000. Supposedly, too much food from humans makes
the monkeys greedy and aggressive, ready to mug anyone
with shopping bags.
According to the
Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, "The
feeding ban is a measure to:
nuisances and attacks;
curb the unnatural
growth of the population of monkeys;
reduce monkey deaths
in traffic accidents by avoiding monkeys staying
along the road for feeding;
help monkeys revert
back to their skills to forage in the wild; and
possibility of disease transmission between monkeys
Some monkeys, seen munching
on berries and leaves, clearly possess the skills and
motivation to focus on finding edible plant-life. Others
show more enthusiasm to forage at the bins where people
One monkey chewed on slices
of bread. "Why not make a sandwich?" I wanted to
A nearby poster declared:
"Monkeys are primarily vegetarians. They have excellent
memories and high learning capacity in discovery of new
food sites. They can recall their experience of foraging
and adapt to different plants for food as the season
"Rhesus macaques take
mainly fruits, seeds, roots, buds, sprouts, grass,
leaves, algae from ponds and even mushrooms for food.
Longtailed macaques eat mainly fruits, buds, sprouts and
young leaves. They also feed on insects and small
Suddenly, a brainstorm hit
me so I asked the monkeys within earshot: "Hey, do any
of you guys want to move to Lamma Island? It's a good
place. You'd like it."
One macaque looked
quizzically at me before diverting his attention to
scratching an armpit. None gave a direct reply.
Yung Shue Wan, the Lamma
village where I live, would become much livelier with
resident macaques. Imagine them climbing onto balconies,
swinging from awnings and tugging at dogs' tails!
Wisely, I resisted a desire
to grip two monkeys by their paws and lead them to the
Lamma ferry pier in Central. They enjoy their country
park. Surely, a pushy human urging them to move, or even
touching them, would get bitten by sharp teeth and
pummeled by fist-like paws.
The primates' behavior
outshone that of passing people. Most humans strolling
past carried sticks and waved them at the nearest
monkeys. What needless hostility! Why do people feel
threatened by these small relatives from the animal
kingdom? Personally, I felt happier and more relaxed
among the monkeys than I ever do on the streets of Tsim
Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay.
As for the monkeys'
perspective, I imagined them thinking: "Humans grow
taller than us, but they're timid and easily frightened,
definitely an inferior species."
Nasty people sometimes try
to stab the monkeys or place traps in the park, but
experts warn against eating monkey meat. The Wild
Animals Protection Ordinance stipulates stiff fines or
jail terms for hunting or deliberately disturbing wild
Overhead, tree branches
heaved and swayed as macaques swung among the leaves.
Unlike Lantau Island's Ngong Ping cable cars, their
sky-transport never breaks down.
Then a sprinkle of warm
liquid traced a path along my right shirtsleeve and
forearm. Surprised, I glanced up into a tree just in
time to sidestep a new stream of falling monkey urine.
Someone among the leaves disliked me. Had the suggestion
of moving to Lamma aroused more resentment than I
realized? Would fellow passengers on the Lamma ferry
later sniff out my from-the-sky perfume?
Not annoyed, I felt amused,
appreciating the mischievous monkey's sense of humor.
His behavior brought to mind how Hong Kong's leaders
treat the local people by favoring big business and
neglecting to defend public interests in Beijing. The
government's actions aren't as funny.
Several monkeys scaled
towering trees, ascending into the sky. Their climbing
skills made me think of how the central government had
exploited National Day for propaganda by launching a
lunar-probe rocket then – a mildly impressive feat, but
one that solves no problems on the ground. The agile
monkeys impressed me more.
By the time I left the
monkeys, I felt spiritually rewarded for visiting them.
Maybe I can mingle with the same crowd next year. What
better time than China's National Day to meet with
Professional fashion models couldn't pose better.
Pensive primate: a monkey looks thoughtful.
Happy to pose: 'How's this for my best angle?'
Why not make a sandwich?
The face of a senior monkey shows wisdom.
A woman carries a big stick to walk near the monkeys.
Into the clouds: monkeys scale a towering tree.
Mother and child: wary of human monkey-business.
Like a day at the spa, snooze as a partner cleans one's
alert to what enters the bins.
Lamma-zine's correspondent 'fits in' with the macaque
Julia & Gina -
on Sunday mornings:
We offer a Sunday morning paper delivery
service, charging $13 for the South China Morning Post
and $11 for the Chinese paper. Anna and I first started
this service because our parents used to have to bribe
us to go down and get the paper, so we thought why not
make a bit of pocket money from it?
Anna has left to attend boarding school,
so my sister Julia has now taken over. At the moment we
deliver around Yung Shue Wan, mainly in Po Wah Yuen and
Tai Peng. If you are interested please feel free to
email us with your address, contact details, choice of
newspaper(s) and wake up to a paper at your
doorstep! Our email is:
HK Philosophy Cafe - Lamma Branch:
The first meeting of the Lamma Island Branch of the Hong
Kong Philosophy Café will meet this Sunday, 7:00 p.m. at
the Bookworm Cafe.
topic of the first meeting will be: Can "Centering
Prayer" - a form of meditation, support a renewed hope
that (in the words of G.K. Chesterton) "Christianity
isn't a failure; it just hasn't been tried yet." The
Cynthia Bourgeault, is an Episcopal priest,
writer, and internationally known retreat leader who
travels globally to teach and spread the recovery of the
Christian contemplative path. Cynthia is the author of
six books including, most recently,
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the
Woman at the Heart of Christianity.
In spite of the religious theme of the
first topic – A Philosophy
Café is NOT a religious meeting.
No system of
belief or values will be privileged over any other…
a belief in and a deep commitment to
genuine dialogue, where the right to present one's own
point of view is protected (provided it is not
denigrating the dignity of others or ridiculing
different opinions) and where dissent is not only
allowed, but embraced as the fuel that powers a deep
exploration of ideas.
The Lamma Philosophy Café will provide a
friendly place for the exploration of ideas, where we
may question our own assumptions and the assumptions of
the various circles of culture within which all of us
struggle to find our own 'right path'. It will not
always be comfortable, but as we learn to embrace our
differences and celebrate our commonalities, we will
build a community of sharing where we will learn it's
safe to be ourselves – to be different. And all of this
while potentially enjoying a favourite veggie snack and
a cup of coffee or a glass of organic wine or beer.
The Lamma Philosophy Café will meet
on the first Sunday evening (7:00 p.m.) of every month
(a different topic will be explored every time).
information, contact me at
or view this topic in the forum I'm moderating:
New Philosophy Cafe on Lamma.
P.S. A related event will also happen this
Sunday morning, 11:30
a.m., on 2/F, 8 Back Street YSW, vis-a-vis the Thai shop; click below to find out more:
started in 2002, and will be updated (almost) daily with anything
vaguely related to Lamma Island or its residents, be it news, stories, events,
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