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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:48 am 
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over 600 messages posted

Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 9:53 am
Posts: 672
十月十六日 南丫島石排灣沙灘清潔活動
石排灣沙灘受潮汐影響,長年被垃圾堆積問題困擾. 再次得到行山團體《Hong Kong Hiking Meetup Group》關注.於十月十六日在東澳舉行沙灘清潔活動. 本小組亦將協助活動進行. 一如以往,為支持南丫島本土綠色文化活動. <綠南丫小組>亦將全力支持這次東澳沙灘清潔行動.
日期: 十月十六日(星期日)
時間: 早上十時至下午一時

SAVE THE DATE - 16/10 - Beach Clean Up - Shek Pai Wan (Lamma Island)
The ocean current washes up so much garbage onto the beach of Shek Pai Wan on a daily basis. The Government does its best to clean up the beach, but once a month really isn't good enough, so we need to step in! In conjunction with Hong Kong Hiking Meetup Group and Green Lamma Group, we are planning to clean up a 1km stretch of this wonderful beach on the South side of Lamma Island - Shek Pai Wan. Please sign up to help our home clean!!!
DATE: 16/10/2011 (Sunday)
TIME: 10AM – 1PM
PLACE: Shek Pai Wan, Lamma Island

報名及查詢To join this event, you can Register to be a volunteer by emailing:
Register to be a member of Hong Kong Hiking Meetup Group and sign up for this event at






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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:15 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2002 1:22 pm
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Location: Pak Kok Village
My photo gallery of the beach cleaning, including the award ceremony where we won the Gold Award for Greenest Team!


Story submitted by Wendy Teasdill, ex-Lammaite:

October 16th Beach Clean-up, Tung O, Lamma Island

It was all very low-key, very Lamma: 'Tung O beach clean-up on Sunday', said Roz. 'We meet at 8.30, Hung Shing Yeh.'

It's always good to clean up beaches, especially Tung O: When I lived on Lamma ('87-'93) I would sometimes walk across from the populated northern part of the island (where most people live) to the feral glory of Tung O in the south-east. It only takes about an hour from the main beach of Yung Shue Wan, but Tung O is a gateway to another world. There is a view of south China islands whispering at the edge of consciousness and the tropically verdant hillside which backs the beach leaks bird-calls, bamboo groves, gigantic butterflies with a huge sense of entitlement, the scent of wild ginger flowers and psycho-dramatically inclined fruits.

Just a shame about the polystyrene, which in the eighties was already being thrown up from the wild currents of the South China sea. All visits to Tung O traditionally involved a bit of a beach clean-up, and the prospect of going in company was very exciting. There was moreover a darker shadow to be addressed than simple flotsam and jetsam, and it involved the spectre of developers. I was fully aware that a company called Baroque on Lamma have been planning an ambitious makeover of the Tung O region, which included a hotel, a 500 berth marina, a shopping plaza, 900 flats and car parking for 130 vehicles.

Vehicles? The mind boggles. With the exception of the odd Power Station motor, the only vehicles on Lamma are Village Vehicles: since the early nineties they have been zooming along the narrow concrete paths of the island at a lethal fifteen miles an hour, piled high with building materials for the ubiquitous 3-storey Spanish villas. They roar like cranky dragons and are continually stop-starting, as the main traffic on the paths of Lamma is pedestrian, with bicycle wheels closing on their heels. That's why people like Lamma - to visit or to live on, the mellow pace is an attractive contrast to the warp-speed buzz of Hong Kong. The prospect of car-parking for 130 vehicles is simply out of context: where are these 130 vehicles going to come from? How will they get there? What will they do once they are there? And why is agricultural land suddenly being placed before the Town Planning Board as an ideal development opportunity?

Apparently Baroque on Lamma listened to the 1107 objections raised by myself and a host of other Lamma residents, past and present, including hand-written letters from long-term Chinese residents of Tung O. I ran into Jo (Wilson, spokesperson and indeed the engine of Living Lamma) on Main Street in Yung Shue Wan, and she encapsulated the situation in a few sentences. Baroque asked for and were granted three months in which to re-submit their proposal, during which time they cleverly extracted and re-cycled the essence of the objections. The revised proposal contained a downpour of fragrant greenwash, sweetly spiked with attractive words such as 'eco' and 'sustainable', 'green community', 'win-win scheme', 'environmental impact assessment', 'environmental protection', 'environmental technologies', 'environmental protection measures', 'precious opinions', 'natural terrain', 'renewable energy', 'renewable clean energy', 'green energy source', 'viability', 'world-class marina', 'green marina', 'marine eco-system' - and the promise that the breakwaters will be used to 'provide a breeding ground for corals and other marine life'. The Baroque proposal is so poetic, the accompanying photos (air-brushed and dredged from other parts of the world) so enticing, that people who have never visited Tung O might be forgiven for imagining that their agenda is nothing short of a revolutionary vision for the future of Lamma. As Jo says on the Living Lamma website, 'they talk about the nature and history of south Lamma as if they have invented it and already own it'.

Sadly, these are developers talking. Nobody who has visited Tung O could possibly imagine that a million tons of salivated concrete could improve upon the natural beauty already present.

Jo reminded me to write another letter of objection -'Will do - see you on Sunday!' - before hurtling off after her child.

When I actually came to write this letter, I was reminded of Sea Ranch - a gorgeous luxury development situated on Lantau. The only access is by boat. We stayed there as a family, sixteen years ago. My eldest daughter Iona, aged fifteen months, took her first steps down the marbled corridor of one of the luxury apartments. It was quiet then and I never spoke to another soul there; now it is apparently a ghost-town. Then there is the on-going story of the 'luxury flats' on the site of the old tannery on Lamma; I walked past them one day a couple of weeks ago and work seemed not to have progressed much in ten years … and every controversial development in Hong Kong, from Disco Bay to the re-design of Yung Shue Wan, has forever been shrouded with tales of bankruptcy, take-overs, land-use changes and promises that 'better town-planning, greater transparency … make it unlikely that land abuse will recur' (Tsang, Hong Kong Standard, May 19th, 2005, speaking of Discovery Bay).

The beach clean-up was in fact part of a larger picture - the Hong Kong arm of the International Coastal Cleanup Challenge, in which groups of people all over the world sign up to clean up a beach. This movement has been going since 1986 - but I didn't know that then. I still thought the clean-up was some sort of a protest against the Baroque on Lamma. There was vague talk of arranging the rubbish bags on the sands to form the words 'B.O.L. off Lamma', with the idea that Lamma-Gung, the engine behind the Lamma-zine blog, would fly in and photograph it from a helicopter. Cynical friends on Kowloon side remarked how nice it would be for Baroque to have the beach tidied up.

On the morning of Sunday October 16th Iona, now aged 18, slumbered peacefully through my attempts to rouse her, and I scampered down to Hung Shing Yeh beach alone. A shame: the last time I went to Tung O, Iona was but a blob in my belly, about the size of my little finger-nail; I'd looked forward to taking her there on her own two feet, but she'd only had an hour's sleep and though part of her wanted to please me: 'Yes Mum, I'm just getting up …' the relevant part remained inert. Ah yes: 'Your children are not your children but come through you.' I had been slightly irritated by the amount of copies of Kahlil Ghibran the good people of Lamma had given us as wedding presents (Cotton Tree Drive), but then I was pregnant (five months with Iona) and easily upset. Now the words floated back to me on the light sea-breeze: 'They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.' I left her to sleep.

Roz had been more robust with Robin and his teenage friends, who turned up and walked with energy all the way through the morning heat to the paradise on the other side of the island. True, they were keen to put a date on the promised pizza reward, but when pitched against the fact that they could have been lying in bed with the duvet covers up over their ears to protect them against the air conditioning and possibly getting up around midday to hang out in the tennis courts, it was an impressive turn-out.

The walk over did not seem to take any time at all; Roz, Annie, Barbara, Helena and myself straggled in the rear and at the Tin Hau temple at Sok Kwu Wan we met up with a large cluster of other members of the Clean-up Challenge. This included Jo of Living Lamma, with the slogan 'Baroque off Lamma' painted on her tee shirt, and Damon Wong, the new green candidate for Lamma who had handed us his campaign leaflets on the Friday night ferry. Roz shook Damon's hand: 'Very pleased to meet you!' - and Lamma Gung (and his camera) for the Lamma-zine appeared on terra firma (as opposed to above in a helicopter as anticipated) as we flowed upwards again, up the steep concrete steps, over the sinuous curves towards Lamma's wild side.

The flora and fauna flourished more inventively than I had ever remembered: prickly pods, twisted pines, star fruits and spinning red clusters of luminous petals constantly called to us from the side of the path, but it was the bush bearing brilliant yellow spheres the size and structure of Long-ans (ly-chees) that stopped us. I bit into one, and spat: it was sour, vile, toxic. Barbara was horrified.

'You NEVER eat a fruit if you don't know what it is. I come from the Amazon, and you know that if there is a tree with all its fruits still sitting on it and none of the birds have eaten it, it is poisonous.' I continued to spit with contrition, but Barbara said that if it really was poisonous then it was too late, and Roz chirpily volunteered the information that there are five deadly plants on Lamma. They were right, of course, apart from the fact that I did not drop dead, and we moved on, dipping and swooping and periodically spitting (me) along the grey path of the honey-pot theory until the taste drained from my mouth and we emerged at the golden sandy smile of Tung O.

Annie's phone told her we were now in China. Huge gold-flecked boulders of smooth rock heaped up in the clear aquamarine, turquoise and deep blue waters of the bay and the foamy waves rolled and roiled upon the sand. The islands of China waved shadily to us from across the water. Instead of racing directly into the sea, we set to work: black plastic bags were distributed and we each helped ourselves to a pair of gloves from the pile that Damon Wong had thoughtfully brought along.

There were about fifty of us present and we moved across the bronze sands like worker ants, attacking first the mild stain of debris that mixed with shells and smooth larva-baubles at the day's high-tide mark, and then, as we got into it, muscling in on the real thing: the polystyrene that forms a deadening topsoil in the upper reaches of the beach. The polystyrene comes in a full range, from big chunks - some fat, some lumpy, some sea-worn flat - to finely-ground baubles, and it clings to the roots and branches of the low shrubs lining the beach's edge. You could spend half an hour on a square meter and feel like you'd done nothing at all; depressingly, it would also look like you'd done nothing at all.

The polystyrene is light and floats to shore, reaches the high-end of the beach, and has been doing so for over thirty years. Saskia Kent was already campaigning to end the use of polystyrene cups for coffee on the ferries in nineteen eighty eight, and - despite the fact that Chemistry was never my forte - I took this into my English classes at the British Council, drilling the bemused students on the pronunciation of 'fleurocarbons'. Not only this, but I always collected my take-away fake meat from the Light Vegetarian Restaurant in Jordan in a stainless steel Indian tiffin-carrier as opposed to the polystyrene containers on offer. These were radical ideas at the time, but evidently dismissed as Gweilo cultural oddities and infiltrated as far into the system as the polystyrene beads themselves have integrated into the earth - which is to say, at surface-level only. As Baroque on Lamma knows, it's polite and politic to make environmental noises, and every coffee shop wishing to buy into progressive thinking will have sustainable cardboard cups, but the power-station workers to this day are to be regularly seen walking innocently up and down the paths of Lamma with their polystyrene lunch-boxes dangling from plastic bags.

Expanded polystyrene is light, cheap, thermal, protective and overall an ideal packing material, easily sent off in the post - but not so easily disposed of. It is bulky, difficult to recycle and, if used to pack meat or fish, is often contaminated. As long as we are on land, water acts as a drain, all too easily accessible. I will never forget the surreal sight of one lone dead fish sailing on its polystyrene tray down the limpid waters of a stream high up in the mountains of the Japanese island of Shikoku. It was 1987, and I was used to watching fish swimming in the water, not sailing to an eastern Valhalla in an extra-elemental bark of polystyrene glory. Presumably an upstream Japanese forester had sent the dead fish on its easy post-modern way to join the river below, which in turn ran into the sea to joy-ride through oceanic currents to collect in convergence fronts and tidal deposits … Nobody knows how long it takes to recycle polystyrene, but a rough estimate is 'hundreds to thousands of years'; perhaps, on this Sunday morning twenty four years later, I was picking up the particles of that very tray.

The soft light beads cloyed at the white cotton gloves on my hands, and I was drawn to consider also the impact of toxins attracted to the surface of polystyrene. The constituents of styrene and benzine are not only carcinogenic, but the material is indigestible and clogs up the stomachs of animals who mistake the beads for something edible. How many whales and turtles, fish and cormorants had ingested and discharged these particles on their journey from there to here? How many had lived and how many had died?

Single-use food packaging is for forever, not just a day, and is just one source of this deadly white coagulant; people don't have to be guilty of tossing their food-packaging into the nearest river. Insulation schemes promoted by governments, designed to lower fuel bills and 'save the planet', have a trickle-on effect; as contractors innocently saw the polystyrene into blocks to fill in cavity walls, little white beads form an apparently innocent run-off, blowing like deadly seeds across gardens, down drains … and, by the usual gravitational forces designed by Mother Nature, back to the sea and so on and so forth back to the beaches.

Nothing grew under the topsoil but a quiet vein of death. Warm toxins tumbled through my fingers and I completely forgot the gorgeous location, the melodious cry of the birds from the Feng Shui woods behind the cluster of houses at the end of the beach, the seductively glinting, rounded boulders piled up in the clear waters, the swish of the waves on the sand. I was pursuing dark thoughts, grubbing down through the stifling grey puffball strata of poison which yielded only plastic dolls, plastic cups, plastic children's tiles, plastic horses, plastic guns …

There were people working very close to me, and normally the proximity of others triggers an urge to talk, communicate, ask questions, make jokes. None of these things happened and my co-workers seemed similarly engaged with their own tangled black neurons. We exchanged clinical notes on how hopeless the task seemed: the deeper under the bushes we crawled, the more bottomless the pit of pollution became. 'It just looks like you've done nothing at all.' And then we returned, like addicts, to the thankless task. The collective diligence was impressive.

Nonetheless, the plastic bags became plump and piled up. As well as polystyrene, we fed the sacks with old shoes, rope, fishing nets, bottles …. Jo kept a tally, asking everyone what they had found the most of. The answer was always 'Polystyrene', but Jo reports that sacks were also filled with: 'cans, lots of cigarette lighters, shoes (lots of odd ones), a fridge door, a petrol canister, 2 x strip lights, broken light bulbs, a syringe, boards, a cool box, a life jacket, a basket ball, a big gas canister and a small one, and other miscellaneous stuff. It was noted that some of the plastic bottles came from China as they were not a local brand.'

After a couple of hours the teenagers took to the water, diving for the plastic sacks and tangled fishing ropes that confused the clarity of the waves. Thank goodness for their example. As Kahlil Ghibran says: 'You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.' After a courteous amount of time, in which we collectively received into our consciousness the message that we were not going to save the world in a morning, the adults began to relax a little. We dragged our hundred and twenty six plastic bags up to the collection point and began to unpack our lunches.

What I hadn't realised was that we were not just a random group of Lamma locals and visitors; also present were the Hiking Meetup Group, Green Lamma Group, Living Lamma and - ta-da! - staff from The Baroque on Lamma. The subdivisions were apparent by the banners hitched onto the metal poles of the pier. First came the polite flag which simply announced the presence of the Hiking Meetup Group, followed by a few more outspoken banners: 'Wilderness Destruction for Luxury Construction - how $elfish!'; 'B.O.L. project sucks, it's all for big bucks!'; next came Damon Wong: 'Look after the environment, not developers,' and 'How can govt change a conservation zone to a development zone?' Good questions.

Meanwhile, Jo had a nice little chat with the leader of the B.O.L. project, who for some reason did not really want to look at her. Perhaps he did not like the colour of her tee shirt? Everyone sat and ate their packed lunches in clusters before we had a big group photo. After all, at the end of the day, it suited everyone to have a clean beach.

But it was not quite the end of the day. Even a swim in the limpid waters yielded more junk, and we hauled out gnarled conspiracies of ropes and fishing line, Chinese sacks and plastic barriers. We dragged them to the pile of sacks, enlisting teenagers.

Walking back, we passed the people of Tung O, playing MahJong and drinking tea under a sun-shelter at the beach's edge. The water was heated by clay-covered wood-burning stove, just as it would have been for thousands of years. They thanked us for cleaning up the beach.

On a bench by the path we met a lonely Erhu player, breathing out a mournful melody so beloved of the Chinese psyche on the two-stringed violin. Then we ran into a bunch of Chinese Americans, wielding enormous telephoto lenses. They were after the butterflies that flitted over the clusters of decadently white wild ginger, the root-grasped boulders, the abandoned dwellings guarded by toxic spiders and snakes coiled in the shadows. Seaweed dried on rocks, flowers exploded, and within the wave of wildlife both aquatic and terrestrial lurked the life-cycle of the turtles who lay their eggs on the sands of adjacent beaches.

It was here that Chow Yun Fat, one of the few Chinese to have made it to Hollywood, was born and raised. From the intoxicating wilds of Lamma to the Pirates of the Caribbean looms no impassible abyss. Here, all dreams were possible - even the dream that Baroque on Lamma would retreat.

Quote from Jo on the Living Lamma website: 'I counted 62 people, 4 teenagers and 4 kids, including a visitor from Tasmania and one from the UK.'

Click here for Lamma-zine stories and recent Lamma Spotlights of the Week:
Photo, Video, Person, Wildlife, Bird, Artwork.

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