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Published: August 15th 2010
Summer in Hong Kong can be resort-like. Living in Stanley, just 12 km from the centre of the city, there's the beach sounds and smells, the playgrounds, and the pool. Most of all, there's the pool - large, child-friendly, and on our doorstep. Of course, in the heat of the day, when the searing sun would cook the likes of Byron, there's the inflatable pool in the backyard. And what a treat that is. It is not just the fun of sitting in the cool shallows. The process of filling the pool is an adventure for Georgia and Byron who love to spray the hose around and share its coolness with their unsuspecting parents. And slow-paced afternoons in the backyard pool roll on into dinner on the terrace overlooking Stanley Bay.
On the weekends there's summer's long, languid dim sum lunches, either in Stanley or at the Dynasty Club in town. Ralte and Ziki sometimes join us, which is more a family gathering than catching up with friends. Georgia is the biggest fan of these outings. Addicted to dim sum from an early age, she has a fondness for driving into town and, once sated with shau mai, spring rolls
and noodles, dances happily in the marble and inlaid timber foyer and visits the gold fish in the upstairs water feature.
Byron has joined a summer playgroup - part of the Montesori "learn through playing" or in Byron's case "learn through destroying" preschool program. He loves interacting with the other children, and initially was a bit shy. But he soon got over that, and embraced the range of activities offered.
Georgia's preschool, recently over its graduation ceremony, held a performance. Georgia, along with everyone else, starred. But "starred" is not an absolute term. In Georgia's case, she smiled more than she danced, but nonetheless looked completely satisfied with her contribution. She was not alone in this, and given that all of her classmates were under three years old, that's just wonderful rather than surprising. The performance concluded to wild applause - we were all parents - and Georgia gave me a high-five when she came off the stage.
In their busy lives, Georgia and Byron also find time to train for a range of sports. Both are keen on basketball - part of Joggy's influence. They practice in the lounge, the spare room and on the tennis
court. Joggy had individual uniforms made for them, with their names and number on them. They look the part, and under Joggy's guidance they show potential for making the big league. Tennis in another of their pastimes, although it seems their prevailing view of a tennis racquet is to use it as a weapon against each other or as an immobile but stable skateboard.
But by far the biggest hit of summer is the swimming pool. Georgia gives me clear directions on how she sees her day unfolding - a swim in the pool before breakfast. Byron, although constrained by a lack of vocabulary, nonetheless makes it clear he concurs with that approach. There's a happy but impatient process of getting into bathers and putting on the floaties, and then its off to see "pengyou" (Chinese for "friend") the lifeguards, and straight into the water. Georgia and Byron can play happily in the pool for more than an hour, and while they sometimes humour their parents by playing some water game, they're mainly happy just doing their own thing. Georgia is completely confident in the water, and Byron has followed suit, and has recently taken to controlled jumps into
the deep end, brimming with a big smile as he surfaces from the initial duck under the water.
For a week or so I went to Taipei with work. Taipei is an interesting city, and quite a contrast to Hong Kong. For one thing, it is more Chinese, and it lacks the glamorous skyline. I had a great time. The work was interesting, the restaurants decent, and the park on the mountain behind where I was staying, Yangming Shan park, had walking tracks among beautiful ferns, along rivers, and past waterfalls. The deep shade of the trees kept out most of the summer heat, and sitting beside the many rock pools seemed the best way to spend a summer day.
Back in Hong Kong, we started to get the seasonal typhoons. A few came close and delivered a bucket of rain. It seems a bit odd to be sweltering in a downpour, but that's Hong Kong in summer. One evening I caught a bus home in a particularly heavy burst of rain, which was more entertaining than inconvenient.
The only other cloud on our summer horizon is that Ralte and Ziki are leaving Hong Kong soon. Ralte
will take up the post of India's Ambassador to Brunei - a well deserved posting. It is great news for them, and we wish them well. But of course this good news is tinged with the sadness of losing their company in Hong Kong.
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