The Last Village


This blog entry about the events of Friday, September 17, 2004 was originally posted on September 25, 2004.

DAY 335:  Modernization has really taken its toll on Hong Kong Island since its colonization by the British in the seventeenth century.  Skyscrapers have sprouted like weeds on the northern shore, filling every hole in the Hong Kong skyline.  However, as tall and modern these skyscrapers may be, they were built with an age-old method; all scaffolding was made out of just bamboo sticks tied together.  The rickety bamboo scaffolding is still in use today, even at eighty plus stories up.

In that sense, modernization hasn’t completely taken over.  In fact, Peel Street, the street Moe and Aviva lived on, was still an old “authentic” Chinese market street with old school butchers and produce vendors instead of the bigger Western supermarkets down the hill.  Hong Kong Island as a whole also wasn’t completely developed; there remained one place where modernization “missed a spot.”

That spot was Shek O, known by some as “the last remaining village on Hong Kong Island,” located on the southeastern shore.  It was a beach getaway spot for surfing, paragliding, sea kayaking and sunbathing where “modernization” only came in on the weekends when central Hong Konger city folk went there with their hi-tech mobile phones — just like the new ones that Aviva and Moe got the day before, a Sony Ericsson model that could make me a monkey in an instant and send it over the internet.  (How’s that for technology?)

That Saturday morning while Moe was getting a morning dose of his Ali G DVD instead of sitting at an office cubicle, it wasn’t our intention to go to Shek O — but a call from his Hong Konger co-worker Ian was an invitation to go with him and his family for a day at the beach.

A cab took the Raichelsons and me to modern Causeway Bay — so modern that egg drop soup sometimes came from a dispenser — to Ian’s apartment, a really nicely furnished three-bedroom with a nice big flat widescreen TV and surround sound speakers inside an old classic building.  There we met Ian’s Japanese wife Nariko (whom he met at U. Conn.), their little daughter Hana and her live-in Filipina sitter Priscilla.  The seven of us got our beach gear together and hopped on a bus that took us to a minibus that took us to the other side of the island.  The minibus driver sped like he was on some sort of a suicide mission along a mountain road that overlooked the southern bay’s turquoise waters.  “It’s great that there’s all this here,” Moe said.  “Most people think of Hong Kong and think it’s all buildings.”

There were no tall buildings in Shek O — no office skyscrapers, no big apartment hi-rises — just a bunch of small houses, condos and shops, none taller than two stories.  It was quite a nice change of pace.  We walked down one of the main roads that led towards the beach and stopped at a little restaurant Ian and Nariko raved about, The Black Sheep, which served a continental menu in decent-sized portions.  After dining, Nariko and Priscilla went ahead to take little Hana to the beach while the rest of us sat at the table to settle the bill.  Moe was playing around with his new cell phone, the way boys do when they get new toys.

“You can download videos,” he told us.  “You can download news reports from Reuters, and there’s even porn.  I found it the other day.”  He clicked a few buttons and pulled up a menu for different snuff videos and selected one.  It took a while to download.

“Just think, in two years we’ll be sitting here and saying ‘Remember the time when we had to wait to download porn into our phones?’” I said.

One minute later (while Aviva was in the bathroom), a full-motion video came on the little screen showing an Asian woman — for lack of a better term — “getting boinked.”  Ah, technology, where won’t you go?

WE GATHERED AROUND a spot on the beach under two umbrellas and sat out while Hana went around making sand cupcakes in the shape of Hello Kitty for everyone.  Moe and I went to check out the swimming scene — the water was really warm — and I did a swim out to the outer platform.  It was a pretty chilled out day for swimming (within the shark nets of course), sunbathing and watching the paragliders fly off the top of nearby Dragon’s Back hill, which flanked the west side of the bay.  On the other side, mild ocean waves crashed into the rocks as sea kayakers rode by (picture above). 

I took a stroll around for a bit to explore the “last village,” which wasn’t as “authentic” as one would think since it seemed like nowadays the villagers just worked the souvenir shops and cafes built solely to service the Hong Konger city folk on the weekends.  On my stroll down one of the little streets, I noticed a model posing in a dress with about six professional-looking photographers surrounding her with snapping cameras. 

“Do any of you know any Chinese models?” I asked the gang back at the beach.  I showed them the photo I snuck in as I walked by.

“It’s the girl on the phone,” Ian joked.

“Who?” asked Aviva.

“Uh, nothing,” I said.

THE BREAK FROM MODERNIZATION ended when we took cabs back to Causeway Bay, where we were surrounded again by the neon lights and fancy department stores of progress.  Ian and Nariko got us into the Hong Kong Japanese club, where we snacked on Japanese beer and fried tempura finger foods before we went back to the modernized apartment in central, with its DVDs, broadband connections and groovy elevator soundtrack —  all just less than an hour from the slower and more relaxed Shek O. 

I wondered if the villagers of Shek O knew of our modern conveniences on the northern shore.  I’m sure they did though — “the last remaining village on Hong Kong Island” is in Hong Kong after all — and they too were probably waiting the two years for instantaneous cell phone porn like the rest of us.

Next entry: Last Time for Tea Time

Previous entry: Cubes and Triads

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Comments for “The Last Village”

  • mmmmmm, new blog

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/25  at  04:12 AM

  • hey, i see you are month 15…so are you coming home after the 16th month? I’m currently in Dahab Egypt waiting for a cold to clear up so I can go diving. I’m actually very lonely at the moment, not easy to meet people here so I’m catching up on my reading….
    is cali on the return trip? you’ve always got a bed at my hostel!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/25  at  01:58 PM

  • MARIA:  Actually its only month 11 right now… 

    Where are you staying in Dahab?  If you are at Penguin Village, I’m sure you’ll definitely meet a guy named Jimmy…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/25  at  02:12 PM

  • ANTHONY (FROM VANCOUVER):  Thanks for the donation!  You’re on the new mailing list!  Are you an SBR or is your handle different?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/25  at  03:52 PM

  • I’ve been a SBR until now, finally finished reading your site late last night.

    Posted by Anthony  on  09/25  at  09:27 PM

  • That village looked lovely, and the beach - I’m jealous… fun times…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/26  at  12:02 AM

  • egg drop soup dispenser!!  erik as a monkey!

    woohoo!!  what a cute kid…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/26  at  07:05 PM

  • they actually have snuff films for you to dl???!!! isn’t that illegal? and what person in their right mind gets off watching a girl get raped and then killed? or are those all staged snuff films? still, that is some pretty sick stuff.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/26  at  07:44 PM

  • ALICE:  I guess not in HK…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/27  at  06:03 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Last Time for Tea Time

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Cubes and Triads


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