By Dr. Rita Kelly
Hiking on Lamma is a wonderful experience, provided the hordes of people which usually grace its trails and shores with their presence on a beautiful sunny day are too lazy to come out. In this respect, Sundays are by far the worst. The hiking then becomes downright irksome and resembles more a single file queue where you’re stuck in your place until your turn comes and where everyone is moving at a snail’s pace, than an exhilarating walk where you can enjoy the sea view and the lush vegetation around you. That said, I do realize not everybody is as waspish as I am in similar circumstances. In fact, most people are quite above such petty matters and don’t seem to mind at all; I’m usually the only one around grumbling.
While Lamma’s flora and beautiful scenery are a feast for the eyes and something I never tire of after three years of living on the island, its fauna is a different matter altogether. Snakes, fortunately, are fairly rare, though a single encounter with one of those creatures suffices to make you jittery and anxious every time you pass by a patch of dense vegetation, as some residents will no doubt testify, and frogs, as distinct from toads! (uh!), are cute when you get used to them. There are of course the inevitable creepy-crawlies lurking in the bushes and grass, which are not to everyone’s liking and do manage to put a damper on the whole expedition when they become too invasive. Homeless dogs, however, are my own personal problem and, although they have never attacked anyone as far as I know, the pack that resides off the trail when you get near Sok Kwu Wan can make you slightly apprehensive (ok, paranoid) when you’re by yourself and they start following you around, having the nerve to go as far as to occasionally bark. I do love dogs but having had the experience of those animals in India where they are often aggressive (no doubt on account of being starved and ill-treated), it spoils my walk to have a stray dog, let alone a pack, show any interest whatsoever in me. These stressful little encounters have made me change my hiking timetable from weekdays when the blissful absence of people makes me enjoy my outings the most, to a compromise of Friday and Saturday when there are people around but not in crowds as on Sundays.
Although I’m not quite sure I’ll ever get used to that look which I get from a new acquaintance whenever I tell them I live on Lamma, that faintly perplexed look where I can see my interlocutor quickly trying to assess whether I fit into the dirty-high-hippie category, this island is, for me, the best place to live in Hong Kong and I would find it impossible to go back to living among the urban masses.