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Getting Your Feet Wet

By Becka

            September, 21st seems a very odd time to find people sunbathing and surfing, or at least it would if I were back home.  We descended the steps from the Hong Kong Trail down through surfboard rentals, restaurants and shops selling everything you’d need for a day at the beach, from bathing suits to sunscreen.  The we walked onto Big Wave Bay Beach.  I was struck by the white sand and the cleanest water I’ve seen in my life, protected on three sides by the mountain range we’d been in.  The sand was full of sunbathers, and the water, to my surprise, was full of surfers.

            The group of young men out on the waves along with those on the beach were all Chinese, in striking contrast to the sea of blondes that could be seen on the beaches by Stanley Market.  These boys catch the waves and ride them up, their laughter carries to where I stand, still amazed that it’s late September.  The people on the sand paid little to no attention to those in the water, and those in the water, in turn, seemed not to notice the sunbathers.  I, too, sensed the laid-back way of it all; no one gave us a second glance, pants rolled up and cameras in hand, standing knee-deep in the water. 

I couldn’t help but watch the surfers transfixed; it never occurred to me that surfing would be a popular sport in Hong Kong, even though it’s an island.  To me, surfing had always belonged in places like Hawaii, California, Florida and even Japan; showing how little I knew of the place where I stood.  In Participating in the Global, Alan Smart writes that “increasingly, even the region cannot be studied as an independent entity, but must be studied as subject to the influences of an emerging and changing global system” (62).  This seems to ring true for even the rural areas of Hong Kong, that is, if surfing is something transnational, a product of globalization and the exchange of culture and idea.  When looked at that way, the quaintness of the youth in the water on surf-boards, the beauty of the white sand beach is somewhat lost, and replaced with the idea that, were it even a month earlier, I could have been standing on the Jersey Shore, knee-deep in water and watching a group of American boys out on the water.

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