Sometimes in a summer, we packed large backpacks full of as many belongings as we could carry and made our way an hour by ferry to Lantau Island where we hiked up a mountain and made our home for a couple weeks on the windswept saddle of the third tallest mountain in Hong Kong.
I don’t have any bad memories from our time on Lantau.
There were stone cabins in which we lived, without electricity, and with only the water that collected in water barrels next to the roof.
There was a naturally-fed swimming pool in which we swam and bathed.
There was a mess hall where volunteer cabin-goers took turns by the week preparing food for all the cabins’ residents.
It was a lesson in community, in not being bored, in having nothing and everything.
The summer I was sixteen, several of the teenagers decided we would hike down the opposite side of the mountain (there’s an airport there now, but there wasn’t one then) to a place called Perfect Pool.
I’d heard of it, but had never been there. It was the stuff of Lantau legend.
We took off with a couple adults, down to a saddle and straight down the back of the mountain through the jungle without a trail. We reached a bare cliff face that we had to cross without safety belts, holding on to one threadbare rope while our feet rested on another.
After a grueling but exciting journey, we reached the pool, which was on a small river.
There was a cliff above the pool, and a waterfall feeding it. At the bottom of the waterfall sat a huge boulder. The water hit the boulder and slid down gently, generating bubbles, so that it felt like sitting in a cold jacuzzi.
If you dived into the deep of Perfect Pool, you could see large fish as long as my forearm swimming. I didn’t inspect them too closely; I definitely didn’t want to find out if they had teeth!
We had so much fun jumping from the cliff. This is where I discovered my love for cliff jumping. I don’t get to do this often anymore, but Perfect Pool was my introduction. It unleashed the daredevil in me – the girl who wouldn’t stand and wait around to find her strength. I found it easier to suck in my breath and jump.
We returned to camp by a safer route: heading down stream until we came to civilization and taking a bus that took us to the base of the actual trail.
I still think of our trip to Perfect Pool as one of those times when I was perfectly happy.
I’ve heard Perfect Pool isn’t the same now. Something happened to the boulder, so the waterfall tumbles differently. It's sad to imagine this place, which I hold so vividly in my memory, as changed.
Thanks to Melodie Wright and Emily King for hosting this fun bloghop! I'm excited about hopping around to see if I can guess who's fibbing and who's not.
Let me know in the comments if you think my story is TRUE or FALSE. I'll post another (possibly true, possibly false) story on Wednesday.
All you Americans out there, enjoy your Labor Day! <3>3>