Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pink Dolphins and a lesson learned

There are many cities that have the claim “if you don’t like the weather here, wait 5 minutes” Well; Honk Kong just might be the King of that claim

Sunday broke to an incredibly humid day. The clouds were low over the city. The difference between HK and Seattle in this respect is that when it looks like that in Seattle, it is usually cold and miserable. In HK, it is warm and clammy. I have also told you that the issue with living on the 40th floor is that you never really know what it is doing out there. The other issue is that there is no real “weather” channel…no news channels doing the weather every 10 minutes. Well, there might be those channels, but they certainly are not doing it in a language I understand or on a channel I get. SO, imagine us pressing our faces against the windows and looking down, just trying to catch a glimpse of pedestrians and are they carrying an umbrella OR the taxis and are they running their wipers.

Kari and I headed out to meet the tour. It never crossed my mind to take an umbrella. I never have an umbrella. I was in Seattle 12 years and never owned one. I was always kind of proud of that.

We hit the street, and it was sprinkling. No big deal. I knew the Dolphin Trip would go in the rain…hey, Dolphins don’t care. We made it to the hotel for pick up in plenty of time and stayed pretty dry getting there.

I have to say the bus we boarded was a pretty nice ride. It was less than half full, so there were plenty of seats.

Katherine, our tour guide, showed us some pictures of what we would see. The Dolphins or Chinese Dolphins, are actually white. When they surface they appear pink b/c of their blood flow. As they exert themselves, their blood rushes to the surface of their skin. Katherine also shared some horror stories of what pollution and boat traffic are doing to sea life and the dolphins. Nets are a particular menace. Some of the pictures were disturbing. Dolphins with cuts, slashes and one had just one eye.

In good news, HK has just passed a law banning trawling by fishing boats, so maybe one issue will be resolved soon.

As we drove, the rain began. Boy, did it rain. Our ride was about 40 minutes. We were going to Lantau Island where the airport is. By the time we got to where the boat was waiting, it was pouring. The guides looked a little shocked we were exiting the vehicle w/o umbrellas. As we RAN, I realized why. Our boat was actually a couple hundred yards away…and we had to work our way around a fence to get to where it was moored. It was one of those hold the fence throw a leg around and work around the fence to get to the other side situations. All of this in the pouring rain. I envisioned myself going into the water but managed to get around this obstacle. We all did as we ran the rest of the way to the boat.

I am not used to wearing shoes on a boat (safety is in bare feet with wet decks) but I was not stopping to take off my shoes in the deluge. My jeans were soaked a good 12 inches from the bottom. That is a ton of rain!

There were probably only 30 people max on the tour, and the boat was a great size. As we left, the rain slowed down. After a 30 minute ride, it had stopped completely.

We were up and out of our seats trying to be the ones to spot these guys. I was chatting with a man from Australia who had won his trip to HK…including first class airline tickets. (nice huh?)

Finally, the dolphins were spotted. Katherine and her helper kept pretty quiet and our captain did a great job maneuvering the boat to keep the dolphins in our sights.

They surfaced many times. By my count, there must have been at least six to eight and they gave us a great show! It was almost hard to spot them b/c of how quickly they moved. I don’t know how people got pics...I suspect there are plenty of cameras out there with “green water”shots

The adults are pink and the babies are grey. We saw at least one mom and baby combo. At one point, four of them came right by the boat and I swear were posing!

I was pretty happy to see the Dolphin Watch Boat does NOT feed them to come close. We were out for at least half an hour watching them play.

Pretty quickly, the captain was revving the engines and getting ready to go. As we made our way back, the rain started once again.

On this trip we hit a 60 minute window of perfect. While it was cloudy, the humidity was not bad, and we were not getting beaten by the sun. I really think the dolphins were easier to see b/c we were not fighting sunlight.

On our way back it poured once again.

Luckily, where Kari and I got dropped off was right next to an MTR entrance. The train stations run for blocks underground and have many exits. We were able to make our way back to the house without having to face the rain once again.

It rained for 12 hours. It ended up being a “red level” storm…with the potential of dropping 2 inches an hour. I believe it did. The thunder and lightning that accompanied the rain was impressive.

So, the lesson learned? Yes…I will carry an umbrella with me at all times….I just cannot show up many more places with bent and wild hair and soaking clothes. It’s just not a good look!

1 comment:

  1. So cool! I knew that wild dolphins were pink, but I've never seen a photo of one before.

    Can you check the internet for weather in HK? Or is HK like Seattle and it may be sunny downtown, but hailing in Northgate and wind storm in Lynnwood?