Tuesday, September 4, 2012


A friend posted a picture on Facebook on Saturday, and it perfectly captured my "favoritest" place in the world, Laan Tau Mountain Camp. 

It looks like it was taken from the last part of the trail, and you can see the caretaker's hut on the left, the Mess Hall in the middle and Cathedral Rock in the distance. It's perfect! So, I was searching for more pics of Cathedral Rock on Laan Tau, and found something I wrote on the HKIS Dragontrain a long time ago. (How weird is that?)

Someone had asked “Where is ‘home’?” which led to a LOT of great memories. Most of the people on the Dragontrain newsgroup graduated earlier than I did, but we had a lot in common. Here is what I wrote way back then:

It sounds like we have a lot of Laan Tau memories in common! Of course most of mine came later, when the Chinese amahs quit cooking at the mess hall and the Laan Tau Mountain Camp association started hiring teenagers and moms that were planning to be there anyway to work in the kitchen on a week to week basis during the season. I'm proud to say that I was one of the first"table setters" in Jr. High and I worked my way up through "kitchen assistant"to become the Head Cook during summers back from college. WHAT an experience!

They paid everyone a pittance, and provided meals for everyone but the table setters, but the best part was that it allowed me to stay up on top of "my mountain" for 3/4 of the season! I'm not sure when they started hiring teenage boys to be coolies, but I know Dave was one, along with Rodney Ingram and others.

One of my favorite memories of those times was when a bunch of us kids took over Cabin #9 for a couple of weeks -- our "adult" chaperons were Rodney Ingram and Jo Daley, both 19 at the time! Total insanity...
Of course, the many typhoons when all the teenagers somehow got "trapped" in one cabin (usually #18 or #24) and had to have marathon Spit and Nertz tournaments to pass the time...

Another memory is going up for the Moon Festival, which was supposed to feature a full moon and eclipse -- and even though the clouds obscured the earth's orbiting companion, Rodney was nice enough to provide us with a total eclipse of his full moon! :-) What a loon!

My favorite place in HK (and the world) has always been Cathedral Rock -- in fact, I've written two poems about it (one in high school and one in '95)!

Actually I'm not much of a writer, but I don't think I can write what Laan Tau or Hong Kong mean to me any better than the poem I wrote in 1995, so if you'll forgive me for seeming to toot my own horn, here it is:
Cathedral Rock 
(Gigs, 1995)

I've sat here all my life
watching my world
with Hong Kong in the distance
and China lurking just behind

I've watched the fun as the sunlight faded
players navigating the rocks in the Saddle
lovers walking slowly up to Sunset Peak
teenagers performing Shakespeare on Table Rock

I've heard their echoes through the darkness
moms calling the little ones to bed
cowbells tinkling the rhythms of the herd
skinny dippers laughing their inhibitions off

I've sat here through typhoons and sunshine
laughing until I cried
crying until I laughed
sitting -- just sitting
and watching my world

I've seen the sun rise on the last of the British Empire
and now I see it setting

And I miss my home
with Hong Kong in the distance
and China lurking just behind.