Friday, 3 May 2013

Retreat to Lamma

As what effectively qualifies as an unmatched achievement in the history of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong, this year marks the twentieth consecutive year of Her Royal Highness's performance at Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island to celebrate the birthday of the Goddess of Heaven ("Tin Hau" in Cantonese), the deity worshipped by the fishing people. For many fans it has been an annual gathering that can't afford to be missed. For me, I have only had the chance to attend three times, including this year, over the past two decades.

In sharp contrast to the simmering hot summer and sweating hikes around the island last year, I found myself somewhat trapped indoors by the cold rain that lasted for at least a few hours every day, or throughout the afternoons into the night when the performance began. My plan of shedding a few pounds of fat, a remarkably successful trick last year, was reduced to skipping one supper for the day to compensate for the lack of exercise. Yet the cool breeze, as strong as monsoon winds at times, is by all means refreshing to the body and soul.

Essentially there is nothing to do here, except looking forward to Her Royal Highness's performance at night and enjoying every moment of it. When the day gets better, of course, you can hang around with a camera in the well-paved trails sprawling across the slopes. Or you would prefer sipping some tea or coffee over a book when the downpour begins. I also go for the matinees starred by the second-tier team, depending on the titles, to which admission is free.

This is why I call this eventful breakaway a "retreat", because it cleanses the heart and mind like some sort of religious or metaphysical mediation. It drains away any unwanted and unnecessary stuff that we may find them indispensable or inescapable in hectic urban life. By distancing from the nitty-gritties of daily routines and staring straight into the waters, it is always fascinating to see how simple and happy one's life can be.

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