Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Air miles for Emma

January 18th, 2011

Air miles for Emma from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

One bike. Two airlines. Different baggage regulations and allowances. The joys of flying with a bicycle.


Marco’s shop

January 17th, 2011

Marco’s shop from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken visits Marco’s bike shop in Tuen Mun, western New Territories


Reflections on Hong Kong

January 14th, 2011

Part of China it might be, but Hong Kong remains de facto a separate – I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest independent – nation. Passport control. Immigration. Chose to fly there from mainland China and it’s classed as an international flight. You’d be hard pressed to tell otherwise.

Kowloon - web

With its order, sophistication, all the facets of a developed nation, Hong Kong is what the rest of China wants to be. Materially, I’d imagine that’d be possible in perhaps fifty years or so. Politically? Bit more tricky. For parity in the tolerance of dissenting views, likely to be closer to a century away.

I’d been quite surprised to discover how much open space there was in Hong Kong. True, not in the centre, around Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. But, out in the New Territories. Extensive trails. Campsites. Backpacking country. Not an obvious choice of destination for a trekking holiday. But a good one nevertheless.

Hong Kong, I was assured, hadn’t changed that much in the days since the hand back to China in Ninety Seven. I’d felt pleased about this. For, if what I had seen was largely a colonial legacy, then it was something to be proud about. Never been an apologist for the Empire.


Outward Bound in Hong Kong

January 14th, 2011

Rations - web

Around the centre a few groups. One readying to depart on expedition. Sorting out rations. Another raft building. Others cleaning up after journeying by kayak. The remainder out trekking or on the water.

Raft - web

I’d come to Outward Bound Hong Kong’s centre on the eastern side of the New Territories. Met with Safety Manager Aaron for a quick introduction before setting off to explore the site. Although independent, both the UK Trust and the Hong Kong charity share very similar philosophies towards helping young people discover their true potential. What they’re really capable of.

Elements of the UK centres. The relative seclusion of Loch Eil. The waterfront facilities of Aberdovey. The tranquility of Ullswater. A confidence building high wire course. Variety of boats, including an ocean going yacht.

Tom - web

And a few overseas instructors. Brian from Minnesotta. And Tom. Whom I’d met well over a year previously. Back in The Outward Bound Trust’s Aberdovey centre. And then there was local instructor Morris. Accomplished touring cyclist with plans to ride from Hong Kong to England. We agreed Somerset might be a good spot to finish. Small world.

[With particular thanks to Laura, Tom (pictured), Lars and Aaron for making the visit possible]


Interview with Iris

January 13th, 2011

Interview with Iris from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken chats with Iris, a hugely experienced touring cyclist. With over forty countries to her name. And plans for a few more.


A bit embarrassing

January 12th, 2011

Few things rate worse than my linguistic abilities. But cards are one of them. Which has always struck me as a bit odd. Mathematics one of my stronger suits at school. So I’d felt pretty confident when I’d explained to host Phil, and his friends Iris and Fiona, just how terrible I was. Snap usually had me foxed.

Perhaps it was Phil’s erudite explanation of the game. I shan’t try to repeat it here. Maybe it was a more honed nose for spotting tactical advantage. And then exploiting it. Ruthlessly. Or just plain, old fashioned, beginners luck. Either way, it was a bit embarrassing. I won. By a healthy margin.


Infectious laughter…

January 11th, 2011

Infectious laughter from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Introducing Iris. With probably the most infectious laugh in Asia. Explaining that if you want to stay a while in Hong Kong, take a tent and head for the hill trails…


Tolerant society?

January 10th, 2011

Falun Gong - web

I’d taken one of the Star Ferries from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. Alighted only to stumble across a small, silent protest. Highlighting alleged human rights infringements by mainland Chinese authorities on members of the Falun Gong religious sect.

Some very graphic images of physical abuse purportedly inflicted on followers. Whatever the merits of their claims – and most independent observers do support them – most striking is the fact that such public displays are tolerated at all.

At least the Chinese seem true to their word – "One country. Two system" – leaving much of Hong Kong largely unchanged since it ceased to be a British colony over fourteen years ago. Not that it was ever perfect. No universal emancipation for example.


Night time around Kowloon

January 9th, 2011

Night time around Kowloon from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Night time around Kowloon. Looking across the water towards Hong Kong Island, and around the Ocean Terminal.


Star Ferries

January 8th, 2011

Ferry - web

The Star Ferries. Ploughing routes between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon on the mainland. Iconic. Must be. Few years ago it was suggested that they be replaced by more modern vessels. Uproar.

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