Kevin the Super Athlete and Red Rain Alert!
Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
351Trip End Ongoing
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For instance, most of Hong Kong remains mountainous, unpopulated, and forested. Many of these areas, full of hiking trails and BBQ grills, will be protected into the future to protect the water supply of Hong Kong. For a city of over 6 million people stuck on a small island, water rises to the top in terms of importance. Millions of gallons of water are stored in reservoirs on Lantau Island, Hong Kong Island, and the New Territories, now all part of a Special Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. When the rains come, water pours through one of the most intricate water collecting systems devised since the Roman aqueducts. Actually, its very simple--protect the land, allow water to drip through the forest canopy and into the ground, and store the water behind a dam
And rain it does. Hong Kong is in the monsoon belt. We've just received our first two storm systems that swept across the ocean, picking up any and all moisture along the way. This saturated warm system can dump water so quickly that schools are cancelled. Flash floods, landslides, and pounding headaches are all the result from the torrential rains. The Hong Kong government even has a rainstorm warning system similar to our Terror Alert levels, only more useful. An Amber Warning Signal indicates rain of over 30 mm per hour. Not bad, but a Red Warning Signal indicates rain of over 50 mm per hour, with the potential of keeping people indoors. Ominously, a Black Warning Signal predicts rain of over 70 mm per hour. This means: stay indoors or the rain will beat you to a pulp.
Luckily, we haven't had any Black Warning Signals since I've been here over the last two weeks. Two weeks ago, I arrived at Hong Kong airport, jet lagged after two days suspended over the Pacific Ocean, laying over in Anchorage and Taipei. Kevin Claus, bud par excellence, met me at the 'port and we left driving on the wrong side of the road: "we're going to crash!!!" Not really, they just drive like the British here in Hong Kong.
Kevin, his wife Karen, and son Nate* all live in a high rise at Repulse Bay on the south side of Hong Kong Island courtesy of GORE, the fabrics company and Karen's employer. In exchange for living in Hong Kong to establish a new fabrics plant in Shenzhen, a rapidly-industrializing city on the mainland, GORE provided them with an apartment and other amenities.
I was witness to the New Super Athelete Kevin as he ran a Power Bar Adventure Race in the New Territories. Back in the high school days, I beat him every time in cross country races. Now, after eight somewhat lazy years on Martha's Vineyard, I couldn't think of keeping up with Kevin, as he finished fifteenth out of hundreds of competitors in the 11 km race, which included a slog through a mangrove swamp, a climb to over 1000 feet, and a slip-a-thon through muddy gullies. It rained most of the race--the monsoon thing again (not Black Alert yet).
Umbrella in hand, I was the only spectator to the slip-a-thon, as I'd walked up most of the 1000 foot climb through the deluge to photograph the event. I stopped at bottom of a steep muddy descent and laughed sadistically as everyone slipped on their butts down the mud. I felt badly, but it really was funny and most people looked like they were having fun (after all, they were paying money to do that and I was watching them for free. Seems backwards, doesn't it).
After the race, we were all soaked. Unfortunately, I ended up laundering my passport, ruining it thoroughly. This meant getting an emergency passport and a new visa for that passport. As usual, I learn from my mistakes, so here's the first rule of my trip (I don't want many rules, however):
Rule #1: Don't launder your passport.
*I've enjoyed staying with Nate. We just filled out some multiplication tables and I've been teaching him a few guitar chords. He had a good swim meet last weekend, swimming some personal best times. He's got to put up with his crazy dad, so I feel for him, ha ha.