Tuesday, 29 December 2009

We've done it!

We're back! We've just spent three nights in China visiting all the sites our forefathers travelled to and have just arrived back in Hong Kong. The days have flown by and I'm feeling a bit spaced to be honest. I'll write about the events seperately, but we've been to Ping Chau - the island on the way to the landing point; nan ao - the chinese holiday town where they all landed; driven through the mountains they walked over; visited walled fortresses and temples where they slept; eaten all kinds of crazy foods; banquets beyond belief; met some old boys who were ex guerillas; visited museums and recreated the famous waichow photo on the exact spot our forefathers took theirs! Just awesome.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Welcome new readers!

So, a quick welcome to new readers. Why are you reading this site? Well, take a quick read of the description in the header at the top of this page - that's how it all started in a nutshell. Now, 18 months after my original trip, I've helped found the Hong Kong Escape Reenactment Organisation (HERO) and we've managed to mobilise 70 descendent families to come out to Hong Kong for Christmas 2009 and then on to China for the first leg of the escape - over mountains, through rivers and visiting the places our forefathers went.

Well folks, it's well underway. After a nightmare at Heathrow T5 which saw us sat on the plane on the tarmac for four hours without food (I watched two entire movies and we hadn't even taken off!) we finally arrived late last Saturday. We've had a great time since landing. I've been busy showing mum and dad many of the sites - the peak, the night markets, accidentally took mum to Wan Chai (the red light district!) and some related historical places too.

Highlights have included an afternoon of talks at a seminary overlooking the channel where the escape all started, the opening of an excellent exhibition piece - escape from hong kong at the museum of coastal defence - and xmas dinner on Jumbo floating restaurant with all the other families. I won a bugatti! Just awesome... Off to china tomorrow, so fingers crossed...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

It's happening!

Well guys, since my trip which started this blog, we've had a busy (understatement) 18 months to say the least! I'm pleased to announce though that we're about to fly off to Hong Kong to conduct the inaugural escape re-enactment of our forefathers. About 70 of us from all over the globe will be converging on Hong Kong for a departure to China on Boxing Day. Just like grandad, we'll be leaving the island and re-tracing their steps over the following four days. Over mountains, through rivers (and crossing Japanese enemy lines!?) we'll arrive in Huizhou for our own re-enactment photograph. I fully intend to keep this site updated whilst I'm over there again, so watch this space as they say!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Anybody out there?

Guys, this post is in the desperate hope of trying to re-trace the descendants or even any of the original escape party. If grandad were alive today, he'd be 88, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility that other members of the escape party may also be...

Here's hoping.

If you have any suggestions on retracing people, finding out if someone has deceased or how to find these escapees and/or their descendants, I'd be grateful if you could let me know!

Looking forward to hearing from you...


Reunion/'big trip'

I'm organising a reunion in late 2009, taking in some of the more interesting sites of grandad's escape.

If you're a descendant of one of the escapees, please register your interest on Richard Hides website at http://www.mwadui.com/HongKong/index_hk.htm or contact me to find out more!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

I CAN see dead people!

So, first thing after breakfast, I went to see a dead guy. Chairman Mao Tse Zhong (pron. Mao Zedong) died in 1976 and was the founder of the communist and still current ruling (only?) party in China.

The powers that be decided that it would be a good idea to embalm the body in the same way that Lenin was and he's still laid there today, 30 odd years later.

The impression that I get is that most chinese still revere Mao and when you enter his Mausoleum, which is a disporportionately big building in the middle of tiananmen square, you're through the front door, down either side of the dead dude and out the back before you can say long live the revolution.

I have to say I wasn't that impressed, but the chinese (many offering flowers to him) obviously are. I don't know if this is through ignorance of the bad stuff he did and a cover up by the party, or a genuine belief that he did the country good. I am fortunate enough to be able to have seen both sides of the coin and it has certainly made me appreciate the great freedom we have in the West, so very much more!

After this, it was off to the Indoor Market where I thin I've successfully managed to take my backpack over the weight limit with gifts for you lot back there! Then I visited a cool taoist temple, where their law, similar to buddhism in many ways, is divided into 'departments'.

You'd better watch out kids, they've got a department of implementing 15 kinds of violent death, a dept for demons and monsters, a punishment department and also a department for controlling evil spirits.

All is good in the hood when these boys get to work I can tell you.

After that I trekked up to Factory 798. An awesome arts 'town' on the site of a huge (we're talking a few city blocks here) of an old electonics factory that fell into disrepair. Now the town literally is filled with artists and every corner you turn, there's a new cafe, gallery, or other unusual installation to ponder over - really fantastic stuff. Wes, you'd especially love it and boys, the rest of you should give these things a go every now and again - never hurts to open the mind a little...

So, that's it! I'm home tomorrow - fantastic!

Not sure this is my last ever post, but it certainly will be the last for a while...

I'll let you know how I get on and stay tuned. I'm sure this site will get busy again in 2009 for the 'big' trip!!!

See you tomorrow folks! xxx

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


So, Just got back from the story of Chun Yi, the warrior monk who's as hard as nails but falls off the wagon when his mum dies. He gets back on it soon enough, wins the battle against the bad guys and then becomes the abbot after his mentor hands over the ceremonial staff and lights his own funeral pyre. Hard, Weird or Stupid?

All exciting stuff, and so you're up to date on the plot and that's without even seeing them.

They're hard as nails.

All of them.

I was in the cheap seats (five rows from the front!) so had a great view.

Two sharp spears in the neck? No problem, I'll even bend the wooden poles I'm that hard.

Oh, you've found another one? Tell you what, stick those two in my thighs and one in my neck and lift me up off the ground. Look I'm flying and not bleeding.

What's that? Forward cartwheels using your hands? Why bother when you can do it no handed and use your head instead (this really had to be seen to be believed).

Their martial arts were fantastic too - synchronised everywhere and their hand and foot speed was simply astonishingly, blisteringly fast. They're all massively flexible beyond belief, not an ounce of fat on any of them, just pure muscle (bit like me really, but with a bit less hair), baggy trousers and some kung-fu slippers.

Then the guy pops out with a long thin chain with a small flag on the end. It's flinging round so fast, it's just a blur, but he's got it so it's making a noise as it rips through the air. His mate pops up with two and does the same thing. Then they get one spinning like a helicopter above their head, the other one lower down and basically do what I can only describe as skipping whilst seated on their bottom - one chain above, the other below and every time it passes under them, they simply 'pop' and lift off the ground unaided by their legs or arms and land back in time to pop again on the next high speed revolution. I think I'd manage one revolution before whacking myself in the twins and performing a self-castration.

I haven't even got to the breaking stuff! Wooden poles breaking across the kidneys, arm, leg, chest or head? Yes please!

How about some iron bars? They look like a heavy duty steel 'handheld file' that you'd buy at B&Q. All his mates do one over their head, he grabs three. 'TWANG!, Shatter, Crash' as they hit the floor after doing them all at once.

And to top it all off, I'm that hard I'll lay on three steel swords, slap a double sided bed of nails on top of me, get matey boy to lay on that, put a great big concrete slab on him, and sonny-Jim, yeah, that's right, you smash it with that sledge hammer over there. Lovely.

Needless to say I enjoyed it! I could still Krav Maga all their arses anyway. ;)

I hope none of them read this blog in the next 48 hours...

I can't see dead people

So, set off on my bike first thing for the natural history museum to see dinosaurs and preserved human cadavers (well, you don't get that in London do you?) but alas, it was closed :(

Then cycled up to Janshing park, for great views over Beijing and the Forbidden City. Then even further north to climb the Drum tower - fantastic. There was a miniature drum display (mum, I'd forgotten how much I loved that drum show we saw!) and only one original drum left. They're 1.4m in diameter and made from a single ox hide. I think they've also got the biggest drum in the world too at 2.6m diameter also one single ox hide - can you imagine the size of that cow!?

The drum tower was used to tell the time across Beijing before watches and they'd be struck every two hours (something to do with lunar cycles, but they only had 12 hours in our 24) and they also had a water contraption that they used too! Very interesting stuff.

Then I got lost and it took me ages to cycle back here so I'm a little saddle sore, but am off to see a kung fu show tonight, so that should be good!

Lots more 'alternative' Beijing planned tomorrow (I'm templed out to be honest).

Noodle time for me now!

PS had fantastic Peking Duck for lunch today - they carve it at your table - yum!

Monday, 16 June 2008


Saw a bloke eat a scorpion last night down the night market - nutter. I reckon they're just there as a tourist gimmick. Didn't see any locals eating them...

Climbed the great wall of china today, well a section of it at least from Jianshinlang to Simatai. Just amazing. It's huge, interspersed with towers and runs along the mountain tops. Quite how they built it is astonishing. It's very high, quite wide and just astonishing. Well made (restored in places) and really rough and hard steep going in others.

It can't actually been seen from space either, but it is still amazing nonetheless.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Last night I had Bullfrog for dinner. Yum! Tastes like chicken, but the bones are a bit smaller and to be honest, I wasn't too keen on the look of the skin.

Some of the gang also ordered (through a breakdown in communication) 'soft' chicken cartilage. A stir fry dish of chicken bits (no bones - bonus!) and long triangular bits of cartilage. I have to say, that the taste was ok, but the sound of it crunching inside your own head and the texture was more than a little off-putting.

Ended the evening after a wet day's exploring of a park and a big pagoda with a rose garden (smelt nice) and an echo wall, which unfortunately you're not allowed right up to anymore. The theory behind it is, that you can stand at one end of the chamber, your friend at the other and then you whisper something along the wall. They're supposed to be able to hear it. Too many shouting tourists for anything to work, but the ones stood in the middle clapping looked funny!

Ended the night with two Dutch couples that had just come over on the Siberian express with an English girl in my hostel and the frog (the dish that is, not some french traveller). Watched too much football again (and we're not even in it!) before rolling in silly o'clock again.

Today I went on a bike ride, the VERY best way to see Beijing. Slow enough to stay cool, fast enough to actually get around. Cycled around the Forbidden City which was allowed, an amazing place surrounded by a 10 metre high wall made of 12 million bricks. It's just amazing to look at. The surrounding wall was so long, I couldn't see the end.

Talking of which, I'm off to climb/trek the Great Wall tomorrow. I'll be going from Jianshieng, to Simatai - I hope the weather's good as there's also a cable car and a zip wire to play on too! Look out for me on Google earth!