Looking south along Lower Cheung Sha beach on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, in the early afternoon of a warm February day, with a surfer walking along the water’s edge

I return from Singapore on Friday morning slightly sick, the last of our family to pass through this particular wave. The two early-morning late-night days on the road did not help, though they were useful in other ways.

My phone, reactivated, brings good news: partner and friends are at the beach on the other side of Lantau, celebrating a friend’s birthday. Come take your afternoon calls from the beach, they say.

In the arrival area I get coffee and am surprised by two other friends. They are just back from skiing in Korea, and still on holiday, only laying over here at home. They are headed to Thailand to meet a parent on vacation for the weekend. Chance encounters like these remind me of the number of friends we’ve made in Hong Kong, and how every one is on the go. It’s a good feeling, being part of this region, of Asia, of Southeast Asia, where everyone is back and forth constantly. Another Hong Kong friend is in Thailand this weekend, I say, for a frisbee tournament. They know, more than one actually. It is a coincidence of timing, of our collective pace.

Hong Kong’s airport is on the far side of Lantau, and normally I take the train back to Central, to my own island, and am home in an hour after landing. It’s a ride I know well, and have loved since long before we relocated. Today though I walk out into the cool humidity of the taxi stand and hunt the line of blue ones specific to this island. Red for urban areas, green for the New Territories, and blue for Lantau. Hong Kong’s system seemed weird, years ago. Now it’s just home, familiar. As the taxi grinds its way up the tall pass, over some of the highest parts of Hong Kong, I think about how lucky this is, to know the beach I’m going to well, to have spent so many afternoons there when the world was closed. We got a lot out of exploring Hong Kong, despite the sacrifices that left us with no where else to go. And now, with everyone bouncing around again we are able to do both, to bring people to the beach and see friends in foreign countries. It’s a good life.

After my calls, we walk along the sand together, looking up at the mountain. It’s top is shrouded in clouds, facing the sea. It’s wonderful to breathe the salt air, to rest a bit, and to heal. It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the friends we love with little planning.