On the Beach at Mui Wo

On the beach at Mui Wo the sea spills back and forth creating the ancient rhythm that both soothes a soul and, yet, causes one to dream of seeing the other side of the world.

An elderly man quietly works on his upturned fishing boat, cigarette smouldering as it hangs from his lips. The smoke slowly rises and wafts about his head, causing him to squint, narrow eyed, at his work.

An old transistor radio plays the atonal, to western ears, music so popular with older people here. The music is occasionally interrupted with newscasts wherein the announcer sells the news with the same enthusiasm and patter familiar in used car advertising.

On the beach at Mui Wo, two women. in hats that resemble upturned fruit baskets, slowly work their way down the beach. As they rake the sand and clean up the rubbish from yesterdays visitors, the shush of the rakes serve as a counterpoint to the sea and music. Their chatter, in high pitched Cantonese, is echoed in the descant of bird song.

Three dogs, strays or domesticated – one can never knows – gambol along. First in the sea noses to the wind, then, on the shore, noses to the ground. They stop and dig with unabashed joy, only to abandon that pursuit to scramble under the rocks, and when that bores them, they flop in a heap of bones and hair in the nearest shady spot to nap. On the beach at Mui Wo.

On the beach at Mui Wo, a mother with her child tip-toes to the edge of the sea. Both delight and fear echo in the child’s eyes. She tries to decide whether to touch the sea or run away. Her trill of laughter fills the air, and, for a moment, everyone smiles.

Two umbrellas sprout from the sand. Blankets are spread and tan bodies lie down to catch the morning sun. Coolers of drinks, sandwiches soggy from melting ice, and a tall cold drink appear. Sunglasses, a book, and all comforts of home are scattered around, on the beach at Mui Wo.

Three old ladies practice Tai Chi facing the sun. Ancient wisdom on their faces is reflected in the slow and graceful movements of their bodies.

On the beach at Mui Wo, the world seems old. Yet, there is a never ending connection with tomorrow as the sea spills back and forth on to the shore, on the beach at Mui Wo.

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