Hiking in Honkers

Before leaving for our hiking/camping trip on Lantau Island in Hong Kong we did plenty or organizing: who’s carrying the tent and who’s buying the barbeque shapes. We knew where we were going. We had food. We had shelter. Sorted!

The trouble didn’t begin until our first night camping by the beach, we’d gathered a huge pile of wood and were excited to get the fire going. The foundations of this fire resembled something from a survival skills handbook. Slightly dug out with paper on the bottom, followed by small twigs, progressing to larger branches on top. We’d even considered air flow. Lighting the fire however, was not so easy. Two lighters low on gas just didn’t pay respect to the showcase foundations we’d assembled. We finally sparked an insipid flame and lit the paper, (which were pages from Erin’s diary). Encouragingly they burnt like a treat, but the wood only smouldered. Who needs a fire anyway? It wasn’t cold, but it was dark. Luckily, Erin remembered she had a candle in her pack. This became our campfire.

We’d brought only limited food supplies, figuring because it was China, there’d be someone selling fans and dried fish snacks somewhere. We ate what didn’t need to be cooked, and saved the barbeque shapes and a couple of packets of mentos for the long hike the next day. Sitting around the candle flame, we exchanges stories and listened to the waves crashing until the flame was no more. No fire, no light, no food and no beer – bed time.

The four of us piled into the two-man tent. We decided that we’d sleep sideways instead of lengthways. Figuring this would give us more room (luckily the fifth member of the group had backed out). During the night, I was woken by banging on the tent. Maria said she’d heard something near the tent and had been banging to shoo it away. Erin opened the tent flap and peered out into the darkness.

‘What is it?’ we all asked
‘A bear!’ Erin gasped (she’s from Canada)
We all looked at each other quizzically, then Erin added,
‘No, it’s a wild pig and it’s eating our breakfast’.
‘Has it eaten mine?’ I asked, always looking out for the group.
‘Well it’s head in your bag’ She answered – a little too smugly.
Erin shooed the pig away and brought all of our bags inside the two-man tent. Did I mention it was a two-man tent? We would have had more room inside a crushed cigarette packet.

Morning broke as did our eardrums. We piled out of the tent to see a bus load of Chinese tourists squealing at the sight of the ocean. As our eyes adjusted to the morning China haze we began to see the havoc created by last night’s wild boar. Our stuff was strewn indiscriminately in a one hundred meter radius around the tent. Slobber hung from food wrappings in pieces everywhere. Not one barbeque shape was rescued. We salvaged nothing but our torn backpacks and an elastic strap.

I can’t say this trip turned out the way we had expected. Then again, China is full of the unexpected. That’s what makes it such a wonderful place to visit. Oh, and I’d do it all again.

T McGrath

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