It wasn’t always a bee farm though, it used to be a working farm. The owner left, I expect to find his fortune in one of the more lucrative areas in Hong Kong and it fell into disuse. Abandoned for more than 30 years I heard. A friend of mine met the old man that owned it and befriended him near the end of his days and told my friend he could use the place if he wanted. He didn’t. There was money to be made anywhere else. Another friend at the time was a big, burly outdoors type who’d spent time making his living in the mountains and outback of Australia. I helped him find a job and when I told him about the place, he jumped at the chance of moving away from the metropolitan crazy that is modern Hong Kong. My friend showed us how to find the path to get there from the main port on the island, we packed our bags and left. It was already dusk when we arrived on the island and it was about a 40-50 minuteswalk from the main port. We had a small torch and managed to stumble our way along the coastal path that turns inland and led to the farm, arriving in the dark. There’s a fully paved path with railings, signposts and toilets and even a small temple there these days, but back then it was just a worn coastal path along through the hills and woods. The gate and small building in the picture above are at the entrance and the main building – no more than a cottage - were along a short path, but just absolutely covered in shrubs, trees and heavily overgrown. After hacking our way through we’d made it.
In the morning waking up to discover our new home was something like a fairy tale. We were in a disused cottage in the middle of the woods with no idea what was there. It didn’t look like any kind of farm, but it was such a stark contrast from the madness of Hong Kong. Just complete bliss. There was no running water or electricity, but my friend knew exactly what was up. We went into the port and picked up 30 metres or so of plastic tube and other sundries and spent the afternoon gathering rocks and damning up one side of the hillside stream, putting the tube at the bottom of the rocks to create some water pressure and secure it in place. Now we had running water. At first we just used it for drinking water and showering. Cold showers are just the job in the sub-tropics.
We descended through the woods, getting scratched to hell by brambles, to discover our own private beach in the tiny bay inaccessible from anywhere other than the main entrance.
We cleared away some of the trees and bushes surrounding the main building to make our first discovery. A concrete patio, studded all over with broken pottery, mosaic-like, I guess used to gather and process the farm produce or maybe doubling up for meals or barbecues or something.
At first the heat was overwhelming for me, but within a couple of weeks my body adjusted automatically. That was a total surprise to me; I’d never been comfortable in the heat. We eventually put up a couple of hammocks by the patio in the shade of the trees. We bought a battery powered radio and used to spend lunchtime listening to music and chilling out in the hammocks on the patio. To this day whenever I hear Soul to Squeeze or Human Behaviour I’m instantly transported back to afternoons lying on the hammocls. They were on the radio constantly at the time. Shit. I’m tearing up writing this, listening to those two songs again.
After clearing away more of the choking vegetation we made the next major discovery - an outdoor, concrete bath! What the hell? This place was magical. We ended up unearthing four baths. We diverted the water from the shower to the highest bath first, then linked all four up with flowing water. I’m not sure there’s any more serene feeling than lounging in a bath of cool hillside water after lunch in the sun. Unfortunately there were also tiny fish that loved to join you and they were biters. We put a stop to that by putting some gauze over the tube in the stream. Little bastards, You can’t blame them though.
I decided to write about this particular interlude after rd95’s post reminded me of listening to the constantly changing nightime sounds of frogs, cicadas, birds insects and who knows what other creatures in the flickering candlelight. I loved the sound of the place once the sun had gone down and you’ve stopped your daytime activites and prepare for sleep. I spent a lot of time meditating in the evenings there and had a weird experience that started one evening. While I was meditating I heard lively, but quiet folk music off in the distance. The music started very quietly but swelled and diminished and swelled, over and over. As soon as I opened my eyes it stopped dead. I closed my eyes to continue meditating and the music would swell again and I could feel the earth, the cottage and hillside dancing along to the music. When I opened my eyes though it would shut down immediately. This experience went on for a few evenings and then stopped never to return. It felt like a magic cottage.
We heard about a meteor shower on the radio so took some blankets and a small picnic up the hillside for a better vantage point. My friend made a bamboo bong and we just blazed out laying there in the darkness watching the stars shooting by.
We also heard about Koryn - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Koryn_(1993) so we headed to Hong Kong island to get food and medical supplies (in case) on the day the storm arrived, We almost missed the last ferry back to Lamma Island before they were cancelled after meeting friends at a bar, but luckily made it back.That night was horrendous. My first typhoon. The sound of the screaming winds and rain were both terrifying and beatiful, knowing there was so little between you and the fury outside. Virtually no sleep, with all kinds of banging and clattering sounds. The next morning was a revelation. The whole hillside was flattened, we could see the beach from the patio! The beach was full of debris, branches, palm fronds and all kinds of detritus not only on the beach but floatnig on the water – we even saw some coconuts.
I only spent about 3 or 4 months living there and it ended up being a truly pivotal time in my life, but that’s a different story.