Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Ap Lei Chau

Is the island Grandad 'hid' behind in the MTBs. 'Hid' I think is too strong a word, as it's kinda difficult to hide three 60' boats. They were more simply out of view because of the two massive mountains in the way. So, I met Duncan for breakfast at Aberdeen bus terminal where he'd stayed with his eldest daughter and seen his grandsons the night before after leaving me. We strolled across the road and there was Ap Lei Chau. Just 300-400metres away across a choppy channel, that was chock-a-block with junks, house boats and fishing vessels of all kinds. This was the spot where Chan Chak and all the others had to jump out their boat and swim for their lives whilst being shot at by the Japs. He got shot through the left forearm (and was rather concerned at becoming a one legged, one armed Colonel) and one of the other guys was shot through the back. I wouldn't have fancied climbing either of these mountains. They're ridiculously steep and covered in jungle just like all the others. Duncan managed to chat up one of the suntanned old ladies on the promenade and talk her into getting her fella to drive us round the island on his motorised sampan.
Firstly, we circumnavigated Magazine Island (an even smaller rocky outcrop just to the West) so named because of it's past life as an excellent and secret ammunition store place accessible only by boat and then did the main island. The whole thing couldn't've taken more than 30 minutes. There's now a road-bridge linking it to the mainland and more of those massive skyscraper residential buildings. The exact hiding spot is now impossible to identify as the whole area is a long concrete harbour wall. I could imagine it though and got some great footage. We continued round in an anticlockwise direction and up the Southern inlet where the Japs shot up the boat - It was a really exposed place and they were just sitting ducks (pardon the pun). Funnily enough, that's what Ap Lei Chau means - duck's tongue...

The boat dropped us off at 'JUMBO' floating restaurant, complete with seawater treatment centre, seafood aquarium/museum (where you can touch the relics and are encouraged to eat them) and of course the restaurant. Queen Liz II has been there (bet she loved it!) and so have half of China as far as I could make out from the promotional boards outside. Anyway, the food was ok, kinda cheesey, mega touristy and a complete rip off, but something you have to do once.

I've had an excellent couple of days with Duncan, and I hope to meet his younger (by 1hour!) brother when he returns from Perth next week - I can imagine the terrible two! He has also told me that he's never visited these places, and that I have inspired and motivated him to do so. If I go no further on this trip, I feel I have achieved something by this and am really proud to have done that. I do hope I can spend more time with Duncan.

Steve, you'd love him. He talks old skool English, like grandad did and has his own funny ways of saying things like grandad's strike a light, steady etc. He cracked me up this morning - calls all these people fellows, but pronouced properly instead of fella. He was talking about this one guy we might meet - "A big, fat fellow" he said. Imagine that from a little old chinaman, with a heavy accent. Cracked me up, and you would've loved it.

He's also put me in touch with a journalist so watch this space...

A Great day.

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