Hong Kong Permaculture Convergence: Arrival (Night of the 16th) and Festival Day 1 (Nov 17th)

Adam here. Hello from Hong Kong! Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post, but I didn’t get my phone (which is also our only camera) charged until today so we don’t have any pictures from the 16th or 17th.

Nick and I arrived in Hong Kong the night of the 16th. The flight was fine, as good as one can expect from Air Asia, and after getting out of the airport we took a taxi over to the site of the convergence, The Kadoorie Centre. When we arrived there, not only were we surprised to find someone waiting there to greet us, but to my great delight, it was my fellow May ’08 PDC classmate, May Cheng!

May sorted us out with some dinner and showed us to our accommodation. We were very impressed with our room, which is basically a nice hotel room all to ourselves. We were expected dorm room accommodation, but I think May made sure we got something a bit nicer.

The next day, after a nice night’s sleep on real mattresses, Nick and I went out to check out the permaculture festival and the Kadoorie Centre. We were very impressed on both accounts. The Kadoorie Centre did a fantastic job getting the locals to come out to the festival, and actually the festival was mostly attended by local Hong Kongers, most of whom were being introduced to permaculture for the first time. The festival had booths with local farmers selling organic produce, craft-making activities, herb cutting workshops, various local wares, and all sorts of good things. We didn’t want to spend too long at the festival though, as the next day we would be spending a great deal of time there manning a booth representing Panya.

The Centre itself is an interesting combination of botanic gardens, wildlife rehabilitation centre, zoo, and permaculture demonstration farm. They have a staff of 220 people if I remember correctly. And although they are located in Hong Kong, it’s outside the extremely urban area of downtown Hong Kong and not far from the border with mainland China, which means it’s actually more rural than urban. The center is located on one side of a fairly tall and steep mountain, with various agricultural and botanical activities all the way up to the top. Very interesting permaculture stuff — mixed species agroforestry, a terraced food forest, intensive vegetable and herb gardens, just about everything going on here. (I’ll talk a bit more about this in my next post since we attended a workshop on the agroforestry project they run here.)

So, after checking out the centre and festival a bit, Nick and I headed out to explore the city a bit, since it might be the only chance we will have to see it. Actually, we didn’t explore the heart of the city but ‘Yuen-Long’, a district of Hong Kong more towards the outskirts and which May recommended to us.

Our first order of business was to try some awesome local Cantonese food. Having succeeded in that, we went and tried some more awesome local Cantonese food. Then we continued to wander around the city, enjoying the sights and smells of Hong Kong. We tried in vain to find a local Hong Kong beer to try, but instead ended up drinking a Guinness (something which I’ve sorely missed) at an empty oyster bar. The guy who ran the bar used to live in LA and had done some acting and producing in the past. Remember the huge bald Chinese dude in ‘Batman Begins’ who started a fight with Bruce Wayne in a Chinese prison? Yep, that’s him. Except he had hair and no disfiguring scars in real life. He was really nice and gave us another beer for free after we declined a second round because we said we couldn’t afford it. Then after that he split another free beer with us (“Blue Ice”) that is popular in Hong Kong and is locally brewed there, but owned by a beer company in the Phillipines. We all agreed it didn’t hold  a candle to Guinness.

After getting back to the city, we walked down to the nearest village for a nice local dinner, then headed back to Kadoorie, where we met and talked with a lot of the permies that had just arrived. A lot of people there had heard of Panya before, which was pretty cool. Some had even visited before. There’s a pretty strong contingent from Taiwan and the Phillipines, and a couple of people from Thailand, too. And there’s some pretty amazing projects going on in a lot of these places, too. After talking for a while and getting to know some of the people, we decided to call it a night.

Stay tuned for more posts! I know I am a day behind, but I will try to catch up! And there will be photos in the next post, not to mention a lot more permie-related stuff.

– Adam (& Nick)

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