We originally planned a weekend away, going up north to Shenzhen for some cheap R&R of massages, free buffets, pirated goods and coffin-sized hostel bunks. But since we are girls and were long overdue for some girlie cry-fest drama, alas, the trip didn’t materialize, and Cora and I were left consoling each other with a trip to a “remote” beach we’ve never been to before.
We usually go to Stanley to satisfy our beach cravings, since it’s got a cool market, even cooler (read: expensive) bars and restaurants, plus, we know our way around.
But to satisfy our (or rather, probably just my) taste for adventure, we decided to venture out to Shek O.
Before we went, I did a Google search to see what it looks like. Wiki showed me this:
Ah…looks good right?
So we traveled to Central. Realized the Central to Shek O bus has been scrapped. So we did the MTR.
We emerged at a bus stop, queuing with countless school girls, moms and screaming kids, teenage boys trying to be cool and chattering Filipino workers under the not-so-cool sun. Some dumb woman managed to cut in front of me. (Who’s dumber now?!)
We hopped on the bus, found separate seats coz the bus was so full, and proceeded to endure what felt like a teeth-clattering mobile market on the verge of collapse from the sound.
Cora had to endure inane teenage boy sex-talk-swearing behind her, while I had to put up with high-pitched teenage girlie gossip about farting boys.
The bus weaved in and out of steep narrow bends up and down South HK Island….and for a moment, up on a hill, we got a glimpse at what awaited us at the end of the torturous ride….and it made my mouth go dry.
When the bus finally stopped, flustered and half-deaf, we fell out of the bus to be greeted with something not unlike a train station in India. Masses of people mulling about, waiting for transport, screaming at kids, and old men and women badgering you to buy second-hand bamboo mats and rent umbrellas.
We thought we’d arrived at a different country altogether.
We pushed through the people and stumbled onto the beach, and this is the scene that greeted us.
We dropped our jaws.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a packed beach in my entire life.
You look left….
And you look right….
It’s like the umbrellas just keep on going.
These two photos don’t show it very well, coz it looks like there is still ample amount of sand just in front of me. But really, you wouldn’t set your towel down there. There’s somehow a collectively acknowledged but unspoken rule that that stretch of sand is to be left devoid of ray-sucking humans and is to remain as a thruway.
Unable to find space, Cora and I eventually trodded to the front of the umbrella-mass, and decided to set up camp at just the high tide mark, where the soft dry sand starts disappearing, where the sand is still matted and damp, basically where few others want to be.
It sort of felt like walking to the very front of an open-air concert in a park and decide to sit at the very very front, in front of everyone else’s who’s been comfortably set, blocking their views.
The beach was a cacophony of noise and people. It seemed like, ever since hopping onto the MTR and riding the bus, there’s been this non-stop buzzing noise in the background.
It was actually quite a stressful beach experience. You can’t really swim in the waters without bumping into someone.
The only time we felt relaxed was when we laid down on our backs and people-watched….
….played around with the camera (and no, I didn’t take this picture)…..read bits of a book….
….and basically tried to adjust our field of vision to any space that does not contain people.
The showers and toilets facilities were horrid, and the bus ride home just as noisy. We both concluded that it was probably our worse beach experience ever and we’ve come away traumatized.
Ironically, it could also be our last beach-escape together for a long time to come, if her plan to go to the US comes through, and my runaway trip to London succeeds.
But strangely enough, despite of everything we say about the beach that day, we are actually missing it. Missing the few moments we forgot that there were people around. Missing the few moments when we were engrossed in the bright blue sky, forgetting work, our jobs, responsibilities, and whatever plans we have for the future.
It’s true. Sometimes, all you really need is a good friend, a bit of sun, and some clear blue skies.