There are some moments when I am unbelievably pleased that I live in Hong Kong. One of these moments was on Monday morning, when I woke up in Lantao, spent the morning reading, and then we drove down to the beach in a 1982 land rover and learned how to stand up paddle.

We first wandered around the beach discussing the hierarchy of needs, whether the dogs knew their names, and the odd trio of photographers taking pretentious photos of a man in blue jeans in the water. The weather was breezy and cool, the sand warm and fine.

Then we decided to get into the ocean. We went back into the storage area, tied up the dogs with a bucket of water, and snatched a couple of boards and paddles. Running into the water was colder than last time, but not icebath cold and therefor fine. Ed suggested we kneel on the board first to get used to it, then stand up once we were comfortable.

It is easy to kneel and paddle, but standing was quite different. I managed only a stroke before splashing into the ocean,  after which I gave Pete a turn on the board. His luck was no different.

We had some more practice for the next two hours, and I found the most helpful tip for staying upright was to look at the horizon. Any time I felt the waves getting choppy I would either fall into the salty sea, or look up at the other islands and stay vertical.  If you think about standing up in spite of the choppy currents, looking down at the unsteady water, you will surely fall, but if you ignore it and look at the beautiful mountain islands you will probably stay afloat. It’s amazing what you can do without thinking.

We paddled about, and swam about, as the case may be, occasionally just sitting on the boards, and drifting on the waves.

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