I’ve spent the last few days in a strange netherworld, on an island in the Whitsundays in North East Queensland where golf buggies are the only form of transport - almost, but not quite, as scary as Discovery Bay in Hong Kong, near where the new theme park has been built: a Stepford toytown built primarily for the amusement of children, with Disneyland nearby.
My outrigger team (HKOC) participated in the Hamilton Island Cup. We didn’t win anything, because competition is fierce and sport is a religion in Australia; but we had a great time on the water and off, with much drunken capering at the party on Saturday night (tip: never drink a shot of any description containing Bailey’s) and have started to recruit teams to paddle in this year’s Round the Island Race.
I was in the support boat for the 46K change race, having applied super-strength anti-emetic patches the night before (usually I’m seasick at the slightest provocation), and M and I had a great time bobbing up and down on the high seas with two laconic Australian fishermen, one of whom cracked open the beers at approximately 10am and kept drinking all day, to the sounds of Jack Johnson (clearly Maximo Park would have been preferable, but there’s some thing nicely soporific about Jack’s voice that went well with the sunshine), while we waited for the canoe and held up seat numbers for the changes. The team finished in under 4 hours, which was a fantastic achievement.
Later we went up the hill - me behind the wheel of the buggy belonging to our villa, which turned out to be the slowest buggy in the kingdom, although I got up a good turn of speed on the downhill with the engine off - and watched the sunset next to a mobile bar, which appeared out of nowhere and packed up when the sun went down.
One thing I found extraordinarily frustrating during this trip was the lack of availability of international news from any source. The only TV news seemed to be very local, as was the newspapers’ coverage. Having been in Sydney and Melbourne for work the week before, I came back to Hong Kong feeling as though I’d been in a vacuum for two weeks.