Explore Hong Kong

Out on the rocks, Hong Kong couple braves the storm to create pollution map

Morale is high despite heavy rain, ‘horrible’ water, mosquitoes and a missing drone, as adventurers climb and swim around Hong Kong Island. Here is our first #RoundtheIslandHK update

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 11:40am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 2:38pm

Hong Kong adventurers Esther Röling and husband Paul Niel set off yesterday on a mammoth task: to climb and swim around the entire Hong Kong Island coastline and to create the city’s first biodiversity, coastal water quality and pollution map. SCMP will be talking to them throughout this week to track their progress, so watch this space for exclusive updates.

Watch: Esther Röling and husband Paul Niel hit the halfway point

Couple who’ll walk, climb and swim around Hong Kong Island to create the city’s first map of coastal pollution

“We’ve just reached Shek O, and we are pretty exhausted. We started in Chai Wan, and went straight from Cape Collinson to Big Wave Bay and made it here in seven hours.

It’s just the first day, and we spent most the morning trying to figure out logistics. The funny thing is that our camera guy wanted to get some shots of us walking through the streets with a drone, and somehow the drone got lost. The drone is still missing in action.

We have a small support crew – one person a day, plus two drivers and a cameraman – following us on a boat. They are basically there to make sure that we are OK, so if anything happens we can radio them in emergency. They’re also there to supply us with water and food, drop off our overnight bag and help us dry everything out for the next day.

Luckily, Mana! Fast Slow Food is providing us with delicious vegetarian dinners, so we don’t have to do the freeze-dried thing. One of our crew picked up our first delivery today so we’re eating flatbreads with falafels, and salad. Paul would have been content with pot noodles, but being a chef, I am very happy that we have this fresh, healthy food.

Our morale is very high, though at our age there are always some old injuries to deal with: I have a torn ligament, and Paul has an Achilles which is painful at the moment, but we’re trying to get through that. At the end of the day you feel it.

Coasteering Hong Kong: all you need to know about combo adventure sport

It has been pouring with rain, and we’ve seen horrible water today, so this is going to be an endurance challenge. The moment it starts raining, the sea gets more disgusting, more polluted. We have our phones in waterproof casings and we’re taking photos to upload to the Global Alert App [an app from Ocean Recovery Alliance that citizens can use to report rubbish hot spots along the coast].

The water quality measurement device from the Open University is working incredibly well so far, and is super easy to use.

As for timing, we’re taking it as we go. We were supposed to be starting the first day much earlier than we did today so we may take a day extra to go around the entire island. We’re not doing a race, we just want to do it, and make sure that we do all the water sampling properly, and that we make it without any major injuries. That’s the main goal.

Tomorrow we set off from Shek O towards Lap Sap Wan (‘rubbish beach’) the beach just before Cape D’Aguilar, then around Cape D’Aguilar to the quarry on the other side. Cape D’Aguilar is the biggest challenge in this whole climb. As far as we can see the swell looks half decent, the only thing is that it looks like it’s going to rain a lot during the day, which makes the rock a lot more slippery.

We’ve just pitched our tent for the night, and got eaten alive by mosquitoes while doing it, so we’re happy to have it with us. It looks like we’ll have a cosy romantic night in Shek O in our little tent on a cliff ahead of us.”

Search for the #RoundtheIslandHK tag online for updates, to track their current location, click here .