The mood here is definitely sombre and I am subdued. So this won’t be an upbeat post. I am sorry. I haven’t been sleeping well these last few days, so am a little tired, and I’m finding it hard to get excited about New Year when the news is choc a bloc full of Corona virus updates, all very disheartening and really quite scary. Everything I read and see suggests that the epidemic is getting worse by the day and HK may have missed the boat in preventing highly contagious Wuhan visitors from entering, many of them symptomless and unaware they are carriers. HK had 4 diagnosed cases this morning, two being treated in a hospital very close to here. More worldwide cases were highlighted on this evening’s news and I believe Scotland was mentioned? Schools here are closing for an extra 2 weeks (just as I begin my teaching job) and the marathon and all major public sporting events have been cancelled. The Cathay NY Parade and NYE fireworks had already been cancelled to eliminate risk of further rioting. The fields near my eldest brother’s house are still full of the beautiful pink blossom trees that should have been bought to decorate the houses for NY, a sign of economic downturn according to Mr Ngai. It feels like there is rubbish everywhere. Partly due to less collections over a public holiday combined with the removal of proper bins because protestors were setting them alight and also because the Chinese seem to think nothing of fly tipping – bicycles abandoned everywhere, broken furniture, old cars, household waste…….
Daisy, Mr Ngai and I braved the Lam Tsuen wishing tree event that I first went to last year. It was definitely much much quieter with no queues for anything. This major tourist attraction has a carnival/festival type feel with performances, an on site temple, displays, a vegetable market, gifts souvenirs stalls and all manner of Asian food vendors. Those who had come out to celebrate entered into the spirit of the day, lighting huge blocks and bundles of incense to honour their ancestors, and hoping for the Gods to grant their wishes by writing them down and hurling the requests strung onto lucky plastic oranges into the replica plastic tree. Today, I was cynical and tired (plastic oranges and a plastic tree because the last 3 real trees died, really?!) and I could not be tempted by any of the activities that last year had me jumping around like a small and excitable child. For I was weary and on edge and could not be persuaded to eat street food, of any kind, even though I hadn’t had breakfast. Between you and me, even If I was a starving die hard meat lover, I would NEVER have risked eating any of the things on offer. Against the backdrop of a potential killer virus epidemic, it seems madness to do this. The food is prepared and served in a big open public place where it must be very hard to maintain good hygiene standards. I’m sure the standards today were nowhere near as appalling as the Wuhan live meat market that’s at the epicentre of the crisis. (If you haven’t seen the photos of the Wuhan live meat market I suggest you don’t google, truly alarming), so my lips remained tightly sealed behind my surgical mask, the cost of which has now doubled, as HK runs out of supplies.
Tuesday, our family had made plans to all get together again and continue ‘celebrating’ ,at my 2nd BIg Brothers house, to include a visit to my Mother’s favourite temple for lunch.
But as I write this blog, a message pops up from Winnie
Your second brother’s gathering on 28th January will be cancelled because of the virus attack in HK.