May The Force Be With You – Part Twenty

The Long Journey Home 

It had been a long day. I’d left home at 9:30 that morning, it was now ten minutes to ten in the evening and I was waiting for the 81 bus in a thunderstorm and occasional flashes of lightning leapt across the Tsim Sha Tsui skyline. I was cheered by the sight of the bus approaching and even a young Chinese lady dashing in front of me in the queue didn’t particularly annoy me. I boarded the bus and went to my usual seat at the front on the upper deck. 

Settling into my seat I looked forward to a short trip home in light traffic. I was a little put out when an American Chinese housewife sat next to me with a posse of visitors and insisted on pointing out every possible item of interest along the route. From the look of the visitors, I got the impression that they would have been quite happy to just have enjoyed the trip in silence. However, they smiled indulgently when told that they could get the best steaks in Hong Kong at that restaurant and cheap cameras at that shop. 

The bus continued along Nathan Road and turned onto Taipo Road, which took us through Sham Shui Po. It was along this road that the excitement started. We stopped, as usual at a bus stop and passengers started boarding. Although I could see them out of my window I paid no attention until I saw two men approaching. I wasn’t sure what it was about them that caught my eye. Neither of them was the right age for triad enforcers as they both appeared to be in their fifties. Then I saw that one of them was holding a knife. I think it was the simplicity of the knife that caught my attention more than anything else. It was a simple table knife of the type that you might eat your dinner with. Not a machete or a stiletto or any of the more Hollywoodish weapons you might expect to see used in the course of a crime. 

These two men started shouting at someone that was out of my line of sight and then rushed onto the bus. Pandemonium broke loose and I could hear people shouting and cursing downstairs. Then two people emerged up at the top of the staircase, a man and a woman. 

On hearing the commotion the woman, who came up last turned to see the knife-wielding maniac running after them. Her companion turned and obviously recognised the knife-wielding maniac and moved to intercept him. The lady, however, moved first and positioned herself between her man and the fellow with the knife. 

A confrontation started which consisted of the knife-wielding maniac swearing and cursing and trying to get at the man and the lady who started kicking at the fellow and swatting him with her oversized handbag. 

At this time a scene that could only have happened in Hong Kong unveiled itself. The lady held her man at bay with one hand whilst alternatively punching the knife-wielding maniac with her other arm and kicking him with any foot she didn’t happen to be standing on at that moment in time, while at the same time managing to call 999 on her mobile telephone. Her conversation with emergency services went something like this. 

Lady: I’m being attacked by a knife-wielding maniac on the number 81 bus. We are on Tai Po Road. No, I don’t know exactly where we are, look for a number 81 bus with a lot of people screaming and shouting, that’s us. What? You’re joking, okay wait. (At this point she managed to pause in her struggle with the knife-wielding maniac, stoop down so that she could see out of the window, and then said). We’re opposite the Chung Lau Restaurant, okay! 

Amazingly only seconds later we heard the sound of police sirens. Someone else must have also made a report. At that point, the knife-wielding maniac turned and ran. We watched him high-tailing it up the road in the company of three fully armed, well-trained police Tactical Unit Officers, who managed to lose him. 

Things started to settle down. Mrs. Amazon and her husband descended the steps to speak with the police and at that moment a plain-clothed officer who was so obviously a police officer by the fact that he had no less than two mobile phones, a beat radio and crisply ironed creases in his jeans, arrived on the upper deck. In Cantonese, he asked if anyone had seen anything. 

Amazingly, despite the fact that several of us had been sitting within five feet of the event, no one admitted to having seen anything. I actually did see what happened but unfortunately could not understand what the officer had said as, as everyone will tell you, my Cantonese is terrible and only slightly better than my Mongolian. 

So, the excitement over, we were allowed to go on our way. I sat in my seat at the front of the bus and wished fervently that I had a beer. I also decided once and for all that I would never again ask myself: 

“What else could possibly happen?” 

Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2007 – Not for Publication

Past, Present and Future

Introduction

The hiking, camping, and climbing season in Hong Kong traditionally begins on the 1st of September and last year was no exception.

It had been a long hot summer with almost constant hot weather warnings from the Hong Kong Observatory. Another hazard was the torrential rain. Regardless of the conditions, hikers braved the heat and the rain, and many had to be rescued by the government services. I was surprised to learn that these people were not beginners with little or no experience. They were seasoned hikers. Sadly a few did not survive, and one of the more appalling cases involved a man who entered a catchment area during a Black Rain Storm warning.

Starting the season

I waited patiently for the weather to become cooler and my first outing was to the Tai Po Contour Sitting-out Area. I can’t tell you how nice it was to get out and enjoy the trees and parks again. You can take a look at this outing here.

And it was while I was on this outing that I discovered the Green Hub in Tai Po. This centre is located in the old Tai Po Police Station and apart from the historical displays, you can visit the Eat Well Canteen. It is located in the former station canteen and the food is organic, healthy and attractively priced.

It was a good start to the season and I planned to take maximum advantage of the cooler months to do as much hiking as possible.

In order to get my hiking legs back in gear, I decided to retrace one of the very first routes that I did a year before. This was the walk along the Lam Tsuen River from San Tsuen to the Wishing Tree.

Equipment

I used the GoPro Hero 9 Black for my photos and videos.

GoPros are better suited to video work but it is possible to take photo grabs from the videos. It took me a while to learn the finer points and there were a few failures. However, you can see the results here.

The GoPro Hero 9 Black, one of the many fixing clamps and the battery charger which is sold separately

Another piece of equipment I now use extensively are my trekking poles.

Ah, trekking poles are for ‘old people, I can hear you say. Well, for the record I am an ‘old people’ and I swear by them! In fact, I jokingly refer to them as my AMEX poles because I never leave home without them.

Making good use of my trekking poles during a hike in the Tai Po Country Park

You can learn more about trekking poles here.

Some of the Routes I completed

While I made maximum use of the cooler months there were a few routes that really stood out. There were two in particular:

Taiwo to San Tsuen via Lin Au, and The Wilson Trail Section 8 Part One. Here are some highlights of those walks:

The more beautiful section of the route from Tai Wo to San Tsuen

 

As usual, on many of our hikes, my son, James lead the way.

The Wilson Trail hike was great fun and my wife and I were accompanied by James and his wife Cat. Sadly the weather was overcast and there was a heavy mist but it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of being out as a family.

 

And that brings us to…

The Present and the Future

Summer and the warmer weather have come around all too soon. I was hoping for another few weeks of good hiking weather. Sadly, that was not to be.

But, there are still routes to consider and as mentioned in previous posts, I intend to complete hiking the New Territories Cycle Track Network.

I have managed to complete the sections from Ma On Shan to Sheung Shui. This leaves the two longer sections from Sheung Shui to Yuen Long and Yuen Long to Tuen Mun. In view of the warmer weather I am considering breaking up the first leg into two parts. I will make a final decision depending on the weather and conditions.

There are also the pleasant half-day walks around the Lam Tsuen area which I intend to repeat during the warmer months. And anyone who has a few hours to spare on a Sunday afternoon is welcome to join me.

Conclusion

One of the best things to happen in the past few months is the amount of contributions Stewart Goes Walkies has received from our readers. Any and all contributions will be gratefully received and I hope to see more in the coming months.

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can send it to stewartgoeswalkies@gmail.com

Make a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Don’t buy drinking water in plastic bottles when it’s easy to bring it from home. Let’s work together to save the planet.

 

 

May The Force Be With You – Part Nineteen

Music Calms the Savage Desire for Promotion 

In order to fully appreciate the following story, you must try to understand the awe and fear in which the lower ranks held their senior officers. In all fairness, very often these people held your career in the palms of their hands. A quiet word, a black mark on someone’s Record of Service could mean endless years in a series of rut-like dead-end jobs with little or no chance of promotion. 

The scriptures tell us, not to speak ill of the dead. Unwritten civil service regulations teach us not to speak ill of senior officers. In Special Branch, I was horrified one day when a senior civilian officer said of her more senior disciplined officer, “Every time that man opens his mouth part of his brain falls out.” 

There were times when I thought I was suffering the same loss of grey cells, and while I often lamented my poor promotion prospects, in retrospect I am grateful I lasted as long in the service as I did. 

One morning I got into the lift with a mixed group of disciplined and civilian officers. Just as the doors were sliding shut one of the Assistant Directors (there were four) entered, humming cheerfully. He was a charming man, rarely known to speak unpleasantly of anyone and when, later, my first book was published, he was one of the first in line at the book signing. 

He looked at us and said, “It’s such a charming day I thought a bit of Vivaldi would be suitable.” 

Quite innocently, and totally without thinking I opened my mouth and said, “Actually Sir, that was Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance.” 

There was an instant silence within the lift. It was the sort of silence you might expect in the bush seconds before the attack of a mighty predator or an earthquake. The temperature dropped noticeably. The disciplined and civilian officers hugged the walls and avoided my eyes. 

The ADSB looked up at me and said, “Oh, really.” We all exited the lift in silence. 

Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2007 – Not for Publication