Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Land Adventures

Wendy abseiling

When folks from our old sailing fleet learned we were heading to Hong Kong, they suggested we contact their daughter, Christa, who was living there leading youth adventure programs. Shortly after our arrival, we contacted Christa and shared a great Szechuan meal downtown with her and her fiancee. As things happen, a gal she worked with, Sandra, was an avid sailor and she put us in contact with one another. We met Sandra and her husband Nigel soon afterwards for a meal, hit it off and soon made plans to go hiking.

Luk Wu Gorge

After a great hike, the first of many, Sandra joined our sailboat racing team at Hebe Haven Yacht Club, where she was also a club member. Soon we were sailboat racing together every week or two and then meeting for coffee, a meal, shopping or a hike. When we decided to stay in Hong Kong a bit longer, she and Nigel laughed and said we'd be here for years, as mosts of the expats they know came for just a short visit and still live in Hong Kong years later. And Hong Kong does have its charms . . .

As Fall approached, Sandra told me that their company would be very busy leading adventure programs for both youth and corporate clients, that they brought in freelancers from all over the world to help them run these programs, and then suggested I might become one. The idea of leading adventure programs and getting paid for it had some appeal.

A zipline in action

Little by little we laid down the groundwork for turning that into reality, meeting company staff, updating my CPR certification, and filling out application forms for a work visa.

Once the groundwork was laid and fall arrived, my life became a whirlwind of activity. I met the rest of the staff, some from England, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, US, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines as well as Hong Kong, a great group of people who I came to really enjoy working with.

Fellow staff

Many of these staff return from wherever they are based to work these programs every Fall and Spring and some programs in their home countries as well. And I realized that this arrangement might offer me a money earning opportunity as we travel over the longer term as well.

The fall push began immediately after we hosted a few friends on whirlwind tours around Hong Kong. We started out with a very intensive staff training, which included first aid training and drills, endurance training and my favorites: hiking,

At the top of a portion of Luk Wu GorgeHiking along a narrow stretch

rock climbing,


abseiling/rappelling over the edges of cliffs on a climbing harness and lines,

Abseiling down cliffs

and traversing on a zip line across deep canyons.

View from the zipline after crossing the gorge

Looking down to the bottom of the canyon from the zipline

This opened a whole new world of sport to me that I had never really explored. It was an exciting new physical challenge and I couldn't wait to do some more! In our staff training, we also toured a wide variety of Hong Kong program sites (amazing locations) and discussed program logistics and strategies for helping participants get the most out of the experience.

Getting ready to go down the cliff edge in gorgeous surroundings

Immedately after our training, we were working our first program in a series of programs for various international schools in the area. We lead the kids in games, hiking, kayaking, adventure racing, rock climbing, abseiling, and tyrolean traversing across zip lines in some of the most spectacular scenery.

Abseiling: side view

Some programs were days only and some were overnight. I worked with a variety of ages from 9-17 and each age group required different management techniques providing a pleasant challenge. (I never did end up working any of the corporate programs due to schedule conflicts whenever I was asked, but would love to have.) Most of the kids were great, although a few tried my patience. At the end of the day, I found it pretty satisfying to hear them talk about what a great time that they had or to realize they were sad to say goodbye after a full day of fun.


The hours I worked meant that I usually had little down time; Most of my off time was reduced to sleeping, eating and commuting, but it was a blast and I really enjoyed it. And the income helped to diffray the extra expenses of cruising in Hong Kong, where we were paying for yacht club membership and mooring, plus enjoying restaurant meals and other amenities of the big city.

Heading down the cliff

Getting out and getting physical exercise around such gorgeous scenery really enhanced my experience of Hong Kong and I am really glad I took the plunge. I would love to do some more of this kind of stuff.