Muddling Through

Today is Lichun, or Beginning of Spring on the Lunar calendar, and marks the first day of the first solar term or jieqi of the Lunar New Year – there are  24 solar terms in each year, six for each of the four seasons – although it is also the 14th day of the first lunar month of the Year of the Rabbit.

I left off in my last blog with a wish that I would share with you what we did on the first two days of the CNY, but so much have happened since on the other days, apart from eating and drinking incessantly, so I would be brief and focus on the latest sojourns. Very briefly, we went for Ricci Hall Mass on CNY Day, said hello to old friends including some who hadn’t been turning up for some time, and instead of following the usual routines of visiting Ko Ying or my sister Margaret; because neither family was ready for visitors; we went straight to Laguna City to visit Su’s parents with whom we had breakfast. We were soon joined by Su’s siblings and their families. After the usual and mandatory but pleasurable routines, we went back to Mei Foo where Su collected a pre-ordered Peking duck and off we went to the Aberdeen Boat Club with a bottle of chilled bubblies and other stuff. We arrived the Club shortly before 3pm to find our friend General Manager very relaxed and who promptly appointed me to be an assistant to the principal bar tenders comprising Committee Members who had volunteered to man the bar when the staff were on holiday. Su then re-heat the duck on the BBQ stove and we had a great time eating and drinking, later joined by young Kenny who came with a bottle of red, and we did very little work apart from socializing. We were similarly occupied the next day, arriving before 11am this time and taking with us roasted char siu and pork bought from Mei Foo, and oysters and beef and bubblies from home. Hard work indeed; and we had to leave our job early to double back to Mei Foo for the provisions in our fridge which we needed to transport to our friend’s quarters at HKU, meaning that we had plenty of eating, drinking and driving, which was real hard work indeed.

Eating and drinking continued for the next few days at various venues with different groups. The weather had been kind and I managed to have plenty of sunshine including a session or two in the Lai Chi Kok Park downstairs.

Then came last Thursday when after breakfast Su announced that we were to visit the Kadoorie Farm at Lam Tsuen, by public transport. She had learnt that the Farm would revise its admission fees from the following week and that admission was now free on weekdays for the elderly. The full name is Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden or KFBG which had its origin as Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association founded by the two Kadoorie brothers in 1951 to help destitute refugees transform their lives through agricultural programmes. Since then, an ordinance was enacted in 1995 to establish the KFBG Corporation for conservation purposes and as a focus on sustainability to harmonize our relationship with the environment. I had been to the nearby Kadoorie Centre which was run by HKU, but had yet to set foot on the Farm. To get there from Mei Foo, we took the MTR Tuen Ma line to Kam Sheung Road from where we took the 64K KMB Route which meanders through the villages in the area in the Tai Po direction to the Farm after over 15 stops or a 20-minute bus drive, so that it took us between 45 minutes to one hour from home to Farm door to door, depending on traffic conditions.

We arrived the Farm entrance on Thursday at 3:45pm, showed our old age cards and were admitted free with repeated reminders that the Farm closed at 5pm. Su’s plan was to watch the peach and plum blossoms and other flowers in the season and to take photos. Now, those plants are at higher altitudes, at around 530 m and it would take at least an hour and a half on foot, which was not possible without transport. Thereupon, we visited some attractions, took some photos and obtained the necessary information and left before the Farm closed, planning to return the following day, which we did.

On Friday, we arrived the Farm around 11am and found that all bus seats to visit the blossoms were sold out. Undeterred, we proceeded to hike up to the top where the blossoms were and negotiated the passages. Again, it was hard work. To cut the long story short, we did almost 10km and didn’t leave the Farm till almost 3pm.  Su had posted on her blog some photos and her thoughts on the walk and I won’t repeat them here.

Back to the peach blossom branch which we carried home on CNY Eve and the quote from Tang Yin I included in my last blog,


I had used it because I thought it could epitomize a lifestyle I had longed for particularly when I was young, but which became impractical as one acquired more responsibilities and cluttering in life. Tang Yin reputedly became a recluse and self-exile later in his life and never left the Peach Blossom Hut he built for himself.  He became a legendary figure and a source which inspired more legends and culture, even to this day. The man had always been known to be a genius with multiple talents and was close to the Emperor. One tradition had it that he became disillusioned with an Emperor when he was in his Court. However, the Emperor would not let him leave until he feigned lunacy after getting very drunk. The poem, which questioned the fine difference between being drunk and sober, was probably meant to leave for posterity his state of mind; and it is not easy to decide whether it’s better to stay drunk or remain sober.

I had thought of having a chapter in my first memoir on my affinity with alcohol, but was not sufficiently drunk when I was about to wind up the first proof, which had already become quite wordy, so I dropped the idea. I might include one in the sequel, if it ever got written.  I believe I would have more than a few stories to tell, dating from the days I had my first whisky, which was when I was in my first year as an undergrad. I had learnt from my Zoology Professor some fundamental facts about alcohol, that it is primarily a depressant which reduces nervous or functional activity, and tends to cause gloom or dejection. Physiologically, it relaxes the muscles, so that the bladder can hold more fluid, at least initially. It is only after too much alcohol when one would feel thirsty and needs to take in more water so that one’s system tends to become overloaded and needs to go to the bathroom more often. I also suspect that the amount of alcohol a person can hold in the system at any given time depends on so many factors, but primarily could relate to the genetic makeup and ancestry.

One thing I have learnt in life and through years of association with alcohol is that drinking cannot or can hardly drown out one’s pain or sorrows, not very easily, as conventional wisdom seems to suggest that it can. Maybe I had never been in sufficient pain or sorrows, or maybe I had never drunk sufficiently when I was in pain or sorrows, but I must have been drunk many times in my life. Typically, I felt bad the morning after and resolved there and then not to drink to excess, but resolutions are always made to be broken. I have never chosen to get drunk, but some close friends had noticed I won’t stop after I became high. The problem is the process often took a while and often I won’t register that I was getting there, which strongly suggests that I am an alcoholic. In the very old days, or in times of antiquity, the drink driving laws were rather loose and we had no breathalyzers as such. I often drove myself home after plenty of alcohol, and the first thing I woke up the next day was to recall where I had parked the car. Those were the drunken days indeed.

The peach blossom branch is still going strong and would probably last beyond Chinese Valentine Day. Meanwhile, I continue to muddle through the days , sober or drunk, and I wish all of you out there a happy Chinese Valentine Day tomorrow and a fantastic year ahead.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.