Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hope vs horror in Hong Kong on Halloween

On the ferry ride to Cheung Chau this morning, the skies above
seemed unable to decide whether to be gray or bright!
I didn't mind because the mingling of gray clouds 
and bright light made for some cool sights :)
Actually, what was more horrific this Halloween finding
that it took just 5 minutes to pick up enough glass shards
on the beach to fill up this plastic cup :O
This morning, I woke up earlier than I usually do on a Saturday to join in group Green Sustainable Living HK's beach cleanup once more.  Catching the slow ferry to Cheung Chau, I went and sat on the open upper section at the rear of the boat to catch the breeze and take in the sights along the way -- and was rewarded by some stunning visuals courtesy of Mother Nature not being able to decide for a while whether she wanted today to be a cloudy gray day or one with bright blue skies and warm sunshine.  
At times like that, Hong Kong really can appear so very beautiful.  And you'd think that all its residents and visitors would want to make sure it's that way -- until you encounter the detritus left behind by litterbugs and those others who seem to think nothing of polluting the water and land alike. 
From past experience (including a Cheung Chau hike I went on a few years back that took me up to the northern section of the island), I knew to expect to see lots of trash washed up on the northeastern area known in English as Coral Beach and in Cantonese as Tung Wan Tsai.  (As usual, there was lots of glass shards and pieces of styrofoam on the beach but this time around, there also were a surprising amount of footwear and toothbrushes scattered about in the area!) 
Even before our group got to the morning's destination though, we encountered plenty of litter -- on the trail leading to it and particularly in the vicinity of two of the pavilions on the hills close to the beach.  As I commented to a couple of other beach cleanup volunteers, the rubbish looked like it was telling a story of what often transpires along the way.  The telltale traces left by those who thought nothing of littering the vicinity began with tissues thrown down post wiping the sweat of those who found it a major slog to get up to the North Lookout Pavilion.  
Upon reaching the highest part of Cheung Chau that they in all probability would be willing to go up to, they got out their plastic bottles of water, tea, Pocari Sweat, etc. -- and upon draining them, decided to chuck them down on the ground rather than carry the empties with them to the nearest rubbish bin located a few hundred meters back along the trail.  (Message to the local authorities: you have/had the money to build all these pavilions on Cheung Chau; surely the least you could do is to put rubbish and recycle bins nearby and see that they get regularly emptied?!)
Chances are that quite a few people decided to turn back after getting to the North Lookout Pavilion.  Strangely enough, those who opted to venture further -- to another pavilion further down the hill -- appeared to be smokers predominantly; I say this because while we didn't find any cigarette butts on the North Lookout Pavilion, there were quite a few on the floor of the other pavilion!  And yes, again at the lower pavilion, we found empty plastic bottles and used pieces of tissue paper galore.  Oh, and in between the two, I also found some band-aid wrappers.  So I guess someone cut him or herself (or discovered a blister) along that way!

One reason why I made jokes about the litter bugs and the evidence of their presence that they left behind on this paved path was that otherwise, my blood would boil and I'd get angry at the thought that people could be so willing to trash a place that my sense is that they did get some enjoyment out of visiting.  
Still, rather than lose faith in humanity, I remind myself that there are people who aren't only willing to pick up after themselves -- but also voluntarily help clean the mess left by others.  So rather than focus on the horror this Halloween, I'm going to try to hope that the tide is actually with those of us who care about the environment -- and are going to do something, however small, to help make (our part of) the world a cleaner, better place. 


Bill said...


This looks like a spectacular way to spend your Halloween day while also participating in an environmental cleanup. Your top two photos of "the mingling of gray clouds and bright light" capture the timeless romance of riding Hong Kong's ferries. Looking at your bottom photo, I can visualize creative decorative uses for these colorful glass shards, especially the ones that have been smoothed and shaped by the ocean.


YTSL said...

Hi Bill --

Actually, that's not the half of my Halloween. Would you believe that I spent the last few hours of that day partying at Sake Bar Ginn? ;b

sarah bailey knight said...

Hi ytsl,

I am always surprised that people, without a thought to the others who may visit the same places, feel free to discard stuff such as you found on your cleanup day. Good for you and your group for the cleanup.

So, did Puppet Ponyo accompany you to your sake bar? If so did she and did you wear a costume?

YTSL said...

Hi sarah sbk --

It's amazing how some people are so willing to have others clean up after them, right? But, actually, I'm even more that there are people willing to do these cleanups!

And no, Puppet Ponyo did not go to the sake bar -- or, for that matter, trick or treating -- this past Halloween! ;D