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  • Writer's pictureSharon Chau

Beach Please

This is part of a series I call 'daily espressos', where I write down a stream of thoughts on a random topic!

Today was family beach day, which Helen and I had been looking forward to for a while. We were going with our family friends, who owned a stand-up paddling (‘SUP’) board, and my mom had hyped it up so much that it sounded like the funnest thing ever. We made soy sauce-marinated chicken wings the night before, froze bottles of drinks, chopped up some honeydew and dragon fruit, and set our alarms.

We woke up at 7:30 am to drive to the beach so we could start the day early and secure a parking spot. Helen had slept at 2:30 am the night before, having attended a debating competition in UK time (L for her), and even though everyone else didn’t have it that bad, we were all obviously super groggy. We didn’t even get a parking spot when we arrived and my mom had to wait for one in the car for ages - did everyone else just wake up and arrive even earlier than us? What? The first thing to note here is that it is incredibly inefficient for everyone to have the same mentality of ‘we have to secure a parking spot early’ and wake up at ridiculous hours to do so. Obviously this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because if other people start thinking that, suddenly it actually becomes true that you have to get there very early to be able to park your car. And also, every single person would be better off if they got there two hours later. Is this a prisoner’s dilemma type scenario? Is there an efficient way to distribute parking spots? Someone please tell me.

The second thing is - why do people generally wake up so early to do things? In this case it was the parking spot issue, but my family generally does the same for other things eg. books very early flights so we head to the airport before sunrise. I understand the argument of arriving at your holiday destination earlier so you have a full day ahead of you, but most of the time we are just so tired from lack of sleep and general traveling stress that the first day is kind of a write-off anyways. Surely it is more efficient to get a good night’s sleep, head to the airport at a reasonable wake-up hour, then arrive a couple of hours later but actually get a nice late afternoon and evening at wherever you’re going? Another bone to pick - airport security is incredibly inefficient and takes way too long. The possible productivity gains to be made from making airport security or immigration control more efficient are massive. Think of the number of people taking flights every day, the fact that you have two sets of border controls, and the number of hours you spend waiting at the airport. When Hari and I flew back from Budapest, the airport there had a very efficient security process, where they scanned our whole bags without having us take anything out. They didn’t miss the chance to brag about it, displaying massive posters that said THE MOST EFFICIENT SECURITY SYSTEM IN ANY EUROPEAN COUNTRY! Why don’t other airports do this?

Back to the family beach day! It was absolutely sweltering when we arrived and our sunscreen was melting off our face. The sand literally burnt our feet and went into absolutely every single thing we had. We hastily set up a lil tent to shelter ourselves from the relentless sun, together with tiny fold-up chairs that barely lifted your ass off the ground. It felt like a sauna - and even though the water was beautifully cooling and we ended up having a brilliant time chatting with the family friends and trying out stand-up paddling, it did wear us down. There was a moment of panic when the sky was gradually filling with black smoke from a nearby mountain and everyone looked at each other and asked if there was a wildfire, but the smoke soon dissipated. When we went back, exhausted, and turned on the TV, it turns out that a) a bunch of tires had caught fire right next to the beach we were at, and b) today was the hottest day of the year on record, at 36 degrees. I know the UK has just experienced a heatwave and forty degrees is awful, but Hong Kong heat is ridiculously humid and suffocating. We could not have picked a worse day for beach day - but funny thing was, it was still worth it. Helen’s leaving for the States really soon, and I know this is going to be a new ‘core memory’ for our family, and probably one of the only times in the coming year when all of us are back in Hong Kong. Anyways, head empty, no more thoughts, and now for some Netflix with Hari!


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