Wednesday, September 27, 2006

if monkeys could talk... or at least show up

I went on a short hike yesterday. It was a hike that I usually take about twice a week, mainly because of its proximity to my house. The "dam road" (as my dad and I fondly refer to it, because it goes over a dam at one point) starts about ten minutes away from my house and ends quite close by as well.

The weather was especially nice yesterday, so I decided to take my camera with me. I usually try not to take unnecessary things when I'm walking on the dam road... partly to avoid carrying excess weight, and partly because it wouldn't surprise me if someday I was mugged on this road. So I figure the fewer things stolen, the better. But as I said, the weather was especially good, so I made an exception and took my camera along. I did this also in the hopes of documenting the existence of the monkeys that sometimes hang out along the road. They're long-tailed macaques, a non-native species that were brought over to HK and managed to escape captivity sometime in the early colonial days. There's now a pretty large colony of them, and you can find them on the hills around Tai Wai and Shatin. Actually, last year we even had a couple of monkeys that found their way into the school where I was working. It created quite a stir and provided the raw material for an over-abundance of student/monkey jokes among the teachers. On a more serious note, the monkeys can be very aggressive at times, especially if they think you have food with you. My own father has a tale of harrowing proportions, in which he was chased by a mission* of angry monkeys and had to go into a full sprint to escape them. And this happened on our own dam road. Yet the fear of being attacked by a troop* of monkeys hasn't detered me from returning to the road. And I've come across them quite a few times, but not on the day on which I was prepared to photograph them. Those dam monkeys.

So, all that to say that in an effort to completely confuse people, my post about monkeys has no actual pictures of monkeys. Instead, here are a few photos of the dam road. Since I do this walk quite often and am usually trying to go for speed (whatever that means in my case...), it was nice to be reminded of how much beauty there is even in this familiar place that I've come to take for granted.

A view of Shatin. That's the road that leads to the Shing Mun tunnel that's visible through the trees and vines. By the way, those little white flowers that are blocking the view smell wonderful!
Some cool bamboo shadows on the road.

One of a few streams passed along the way, complete with banana trees.

The road winds down. That's Lion Rock in the distance.
A view of one of my favorite kinds of trees -- the Flame of the Forest. It's named for its bright red-orange flowers, and it blossoms at least twice a year (one of the perks of a sub-tropical climate).

The road goes directly over the Shing Mun tunnel entrance.

More bamboo.

More banana trees. There's a whole orchard (??) here above an old village, but I'm not sure if anyone actually harvests the bananas anymore.

The "dam" in "dam road" is what blocks off the lower Shing Mun Reservoir from the Shing Mun "River" (I use quotation marks so as not to mislead people -- "concrete sess pool" would be a more accurate description). There's a road that runs all the way round the reservoir too, with some pretty cool waterfalls at some point, but I haven't been brave enough to explore very much of it on my own.
This is looking down to the bottom of the dam. If the reservoir is full, water shoots out like a geyser at the bottom before it is treated (for drinking??). Anyway, the part of the road that is visible in this picture is fun because you you get pretty soaked walking through the mist from the geyserish thing.

A diagram of the dam and reservoir that I'd never noticed before.

So stay tuned for some monkey photos. I guess I'll be taking my camera along with me until they make an appearance...

*both "mission" and "troop" are collective nouns used for monkeys. Though not used in this post, "circus" and "tribe" are also acceptable.


ji said...

Oh, how I love your posts...

Oh, how I miss HK...

Michelle, have you planned out your next visit to the States?

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