I just got back from school camp on Tung Lung, an island at the mouth of Hong Kong’s harbour. I had seen – and photographed – the island before in sunnier times, but this year it was grey and rainy and the craggy island seemed strangely at home under leaden skies with its surf-battered cliffs and tangled, witchy forests.
It really is a beautiful place, with a mysterious ruined pirate fort, and neolithic scratchings carved into its cliffs – and nothing else but boulders and rolling heath and wheeling hawks and a tiny fishing village – and the cloud-scraping towers of Hong Kong Island and floodlit lawns of the Clearwater Bay Country Club visible clearly across the sea.
We climbed rocks and abseiled and at night the teachers snuck off to eat at the island’s one restaurant in an openwalled shack where kittens played under the tables and the owner’s barefooted, toothless mother smiled at us as we entered from a dark back room. It struck me as an oddly parallel existence, without roads or flushing toilets or televisions, on the edge of a great city.