Sunday, May 23, 2010

Peng Chau

Today we took a ferry to Peng Chau, a small island near Lantau. On the way there, the ferry passed Disneyland, that Hong Kong money pit that I keep meaning to go to, but haven't quite get round to.

Peng Chau is a dumbell shaped island, a bit like Cheung Chau, but without a big sandy beach or a yearly festival involving people climbing up towers of steamed buns.1 It does have a hill that's 95 metres high, called Finger Hill. The name isn't particularly apposite; I'd have named it "the hill with a big rock at the top" but since that would name a large proportion of the hills around Hong Kong, perhaps Finger Hill will have to do.

It's a bug's life

As we walked up the hill, the chirruping of the cicadas was loud, and all the other bugs had come out to feast on us. Hurrah for not packing insect repellent. I was feeling terrible; a combination of not taking exercise/taking too much exercise/not having enough breakfast/eating too much on the ferry/wanting to stay at home and read The Steel Remains instead of yomping up a hill with a great big camera in my pack. Thus instead of wanting to take in the views of natural beauty (and Discovery Bay) I sat on a bench with my head in my hands, waiting to die.


Then we walked back down the hill. So far, so much Grand Old Duke Of York. Down at sea level, my mood began to recover. We wandered down to the beach where there was a temple and a ginger cat, which was sulking.

Grumpy Cat

I discovered "second curtain flash" on my camera, which (although I don't think this was quite the designed purpose) stops picture appearing of me looking like a idiot, because the flash fires at the end of the exposure, rather than the start. That means I don't blink until the photo is done, rather than looking like a (sleepy) lummox.

Taking Up The Whole Frame

By now it was at least ten minutes since I'd eaten anything, so we went back over to the other side of Peng Chau to a little French cafe, guarded by a slobbering St Bernard, where we drank pastis and ate cheese and olives.

The patron was a very friendly Frenchman called Jimmy, and while we sat there all afternoon and ate more cheese, other French people would occasionally stop by and ask if we were French. Perhaps my scruffy beard now portrays Gallic charm. Maybe I've gone native. Which would be helpful in rural France, but I'm not entirely sure of the benefit in a small island in Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, Les Copains D'Abord is a lovely little establishment, selling very reasonably priced cheese, wine, and hammocks, and we vowed to return for more cheese and wine another time. It also seems to be a meeting spot for large dogs; a second St Bernard arrived while we were there, and the two spent some time sniffing one another.

It must be good to be a dog. It's not socially acceptable to sniff people if you're a human being.

Since we're soon to move into a new flat, we stopped off at a very helpful furniture store in Peng Chau, where my girlfriend got very excited by a multitude of antique Chinese cabinets. They're all very nice, but the artisans in the 19th century neglected to make space for the wiring for an Xbox. Nothing that ten minutes with a jigsaw and a blindfold (and three hours thereafter in Casualty) can't solve.

Brimming with pastis and cheese, we then took the boat home; even the slow ferry only takes about half an hour, which makes Peng Chau a great, quiet escape from the hubbub of central Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, it didn't rain, which meant I'd been carting an umbrella around all day for no reason, but never mind - you can't have everything...

1 I'm not being facetious. Look it up if you don't believe me.


Anonymous said...

What a handsome couple! (Although I note you have hogged most of the frame... tut tut, not very chivalrous are we?). I have been trying to visualise a man of my generation with a full beard, and you look a lot less like a youthful St Nick than I had anticipated.

Mr Cushtie said...

Well, thank you very much!

My head is only so much bigger in the picture than my girlfriend's because ... I have an enormous head.

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