How Hong Kong beaches could be lethal

This blog finds me writing in the wake of one of the most severe typhoons to hit Hong Kong in recent years. I wasn't all that familiar with the term typhoon until I came here, apparently with good reason- it is the name for a mature tropical cyclone in the northwestern part of the Pacific, however in the eastern north Pacific they are known as hurricanes. Same thing, different name! So now you know (if you didn't already)...

Unfortunately I don't really have any sexy details to share about typhoon Vicente, other than what I heard from others- as the rain and wind started building up on Monday, I stocked up on groceries and basically stayed in for a couple of days. I could hear it, but my apartment did not offer enough of a view to see the effects of the storm first-hand. I did hear about winds gusting up to 160 km per hour in places, and massive amounts of rain falling in a very short time span. I have no pictures of my own to share but here's a shot from the internet of the Hong Kong skyline during the action:

And after the action from the Kowloon side- apparently hundreds of trees were felled by the storm, not sure if they'll be able to save this one:

But before all that action we had a beautiful sunny day late last week, so I decided to go the beach. I was told that the number 6 bus took a very scenic route through the hills of Hong Kong island before stopping at Repulse Bay Beach, a fairly common tourist destination. I decided to check it out- and my sources proved to be correct! Here is a shot of the north part of the island (where I live and work) from the backside:

And here is a view of the Peak, as the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island is known- more on that in a future blog, when I finally take a visit:

And this was my first sighting of my destination that day:

Now you're thinking, "Lovely!" right? And you'd be correct, it was! I lazed on the sand and enjoyed the sun for awhile- when I finally couldn't stand the heat any longer I went for a quick dip in the water to cool off, just wading in up to my knees and splashing some water on my face. The water quality is not supposed to be great there, but there were plenty of people swimming.

The aftermath came a day later, when I my legs starting itching like crazy on the gig Friday night. I could see a couple of red spots appearing and assumed I had got bitten by some kind of mosquito- although I hadn't seen or felt any while lying on the beach. Serves me right for not using insect repellent!

Well, by Saturday I had 5 huge, swollen red welts on my legs and they felt like they were on fire! My calves were so itchy and sore I wanted pain reliever- my drummer recommended an after-bite product that I promptly went out and purchased the next day.

I started wondering why I only had bites on my legs- and came to the conclusion (which may or may not be correct) that there must have been some kind of biting bug in the water to whose venom my immune system most violently opposed, probably because it had never encountered it before. Ouch!

For those of you interested in seeing other pics from that day, including the hilarious gas station convenience store sign I spotted- as well as something I will call the building with a hole in it- please sign up to receive my newsletter, you'll get all the exclusive photos in the next installment coming soon. The signup form is on the upper right hand side of this page- no spam I promise, and if you include your city of residence I will target any show notices to your area only.

Til next blog, fare thee well.

J.

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