So here the hard facts – over the course of 6 days we climbed more than 80km of coastline, we mapped 125 trash hotspots, we took 50 water samples, we faced black rain and lots of other challenges!!
It was tough, much tougher actually than one would assume for the fact that we had “only” climbed around Hong Kong Island. What had started out as a weird and crazy idea 4 years ago, had finally become reality… and even better Esther and I managed to get through the whole adventure, with all its unexpected obstacles together – without filing for divorce in the end!!!
There is an official press release (attached below), but here a few highlights:
– A rather challenging start into grim cloudy Hong Kong weather: the drone that was supposed to film us crashed on the first shot, my phone cover starting leaking, the low tide made the spiky sea urchins even more dangerous -> resulting ultimately in Esther getting stung in her finger (thank you fishermen who helped us taking the spine out!).
– It should get worse – heavy rain showers (in Hong Kong lingo: “Amber rain”) drenched our tent overnight, everything – sleeping bag, mats, change of clothes etc… getting fully soaked – but hey we were coasteering – whats a bit of water!
– getting showered in Black Rain (HKO definition: >70mm rain/hour) : we sat off in rain, the rain got more, the thunder got more – the lightings hitting left and right – Here a quick question: “ How far does a lightning strike travel on the sea surface?” – a good question for wikipedia, not so good when you try to climb and swim around some of the most remote sea cliffs in Hong Kong. Little did we know at that time that we had walked unexpectedly into the worst rainstorm that Hong Kong had seen in more than 7 years – while we were sheltering on a rock, landslides were going off all over the territories. It seemed our journey was jinxed.
– Tai-Uncle: the most interesting character of Hong Kongs coastline: He spends his days with his two huge dogs in a hut near Tung Ah Tsuen, collecting rubbish and using it to decorate his “International Friends Club” – a coastal hangout, where you can drink beer in a barberchair!
– Rapelling the Sea Wall at South Horizons… between Joggers and Saturdaywalkers abseiling into the Aberdeen harbour will stay in memory for a long time – the subsequent swim through a minefield of rubbish, jellyfish and heaps of pollution is better forgotten – the Lamma ferry crossing our paths just a few seconds later.
– Exploring caves full of Styrofoam and Rubbish, tons and tons of trash just a few meters beside Hole #4 of the luxurious Shek O golf course. We saw fridges (Total count 13), computer monitors, TV sets, old boats, rusty oil drums, engines, heaps of plastic bottles, plastic bags…… you name it, we saw it!!
– Traversing (and slipping) a huge fallen tree in a rainstorm that forms a perfect bridge over a Zawn (little inlet) off Cape D’Aguilar. A natural highline – imagine a slippery soaped slackline.
– Waking up to a group of local fishermen standing in our tent entrance (!!!) – there is a 85km of coastline to HK and they need to use our ten-spot as a fishing spot? Personal space anybody? And what do they talk about all the time?
– Falling off a rockstep due to a broken rope….only managing to slow down the fall by burning my whole hand- ouch that hurt (but guess significantly less then the impact of a freefall!!)
– The realisation that walking hours after hours, wet with salt water causes chafing everywhere – everywhere – even at the most unexpected places. And chafing was only the beginning, infected wounds from barnacle impact, sea urchins, stings from jellyfish,…. the pain started growing exponentially!
– Watching the beautiful sunset over Sandy Bay, relaxing in our tent after 11hours of exhausting climbing and swimming with nothing more to do than chasing mosquitoes away.
– The last day was a day of contrasts – the exposed rocks of the Sulphur channel (with high swell from Macau Ferry and other speed boats) giving way to the concrete towers of Kennedy Town, Central and Causeway Bay. Despite the never ending construction sites we managed to find our way to Kellet Island – a coasteering adventure around the Royal HK Yacht Club. Some of the brunching Sunday Sailors were quite surprised by these two climbers coming round their peninsula.
– Taking water samples at North Point ferry pier, where a ray (!!!) almost swam into our water bucket – I guess not really a native of HK waters.
– Walking in the last hundred metres to the finish line, exhausted, tired, hurting, bleeding and looking soo much forward to a shower, a dry bed… and the smile of our daughter!
These are just a few of the highlights of a very memorable trip – not forgotten are also the Helicopters, Prison guards and strong strong currents, the EPD security officials, closed fish markets and barbed wires… but these are stories better told over a good drink.
Where do we go from here? As outlined this was not just a an adventure around Hong Island – the first full coasteer around the island, and to our knowledge the worlds first coasteering expedition. It was also a mission to map the pollution around Hong Kongs coastline. We did this through two ways:
a) Photograph and locate physical pollution (Styrofoam, plastic, household rubbish etc..) and map them on the App www.globalalert.com – a cooperation with the Ocean Recovery Alliance
b) Take Water Samples at regular intervals around Hong Kong, and analyse them for quality parameters to get a better insight on microbiological and chemical pollution – a cooperation with The Open University Hong Kong and Palintest
Little did we know what we started – while the water quality analysis is still in progress – the mapping of trash sites has already started to project HK125: an initiative to lean up all the mapped trash sites in a focused, concentrated effort. Truly exciting to know that all our collected data will be used for real change!!!
There is more coming and day by day the impact of RoundtheIsland HK seems to grow!!! It is an exciting development that we didn’t dare to dream about, when we first started discussing this project years ago!
As a last word – a big Thank you to all supporters, sponsors, volunteers! This has been a great adventure, but our journey has just began…. now its time to clean the trash away!!
If you want to get involved, please reach out – either through the website or through Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/RoundtheIslandHK
Stay tuned: as the mission for a #cleancoast continues!!
PS: No expedition would be complete with a few statistics:
Round the Island HK in numbers:
Total Time on the way: 60.25hr
Nights camped: 6
Total Distance travelled: 82.3km
Trash Hotspots mapped: 163
Watersamples taken: 51
Longest Swim: 605m
Disposed Fridges seen: 13