Our series of online people profiles covers a wide range of backgrounds, careers and personalities of individuals in Hong Kong. In this instalment, we chat with JO LODDER and CATHERINE CORMACK, who recently embarked on the Hike for Freedom. This physical four-day challenge on Hong Kong’s trails raised money to help stop human and animal abuse.
Where are you from originally, and what do you miss about it?
Jo: I’m from the UK – Stratford-upon-Avon. I miss my kids and family – especially at the moment with the travel restrictions.
Catherine: I’m from outside of Inverness, right in the north of Scotland. I also miss my family, and my friends. When I was living in the city I also missed the outdoor space; but living in Mui Wo now, I have that on my doorstep every day!
Tell us about your expat trail; when did you first come here?
Jo: I lived in the south of Spain for seven years before arriving in HK in 2009.
Catherine: I moved here in 2012 for work and fell in love with all Hong Kong had to offer: the vibrancy of the city, meeting so many interesting people, the beautiful beaches and mountains, the abundance of wildlife and the amazing travel destinations a short flight away.
Is Hong Kong “home”?
Jo: Lantau is my home!
Catherine: I can say it is definitely home. In particular, I love the small community spirit we have at Mui Wo, as well as living in such a beautiful location.
What do you do here? Tell us about your jobs.
Jo: I work in property in Niseko, Japan and we have a small boutique ski resort called SnowDog Village (snowdogniseko.com). We also have a few other projects at various stages of development as well as a restaurant called Raku Ichi Soba; we sell individual apartments and then manage them for the owners
Catherine: I’m a Veterinary Clinical Skills Instructor for City University. I joined CityU just over two years ago. Prior to this, I was a veterinary surgeon working in small animal and exotic animal clinics in Hong Kong.
Give us an insight into a typical working day for you.
Jo: I work in Central, opposite the old police station. I work between home and the office – I’m pretty flexible; it all depends on meetings and what’s happening at the time.
Catherine: I teach full-time across multiple courses in the veterinary degree so no two days are the same! Some days, I’m teaching horse handling at various riding stables in Hong Kong; other days, I’m in the classroom leading seminars on anatomy. I love the variety, and my students are fantastic to work with.
You’ve just tackled the Hike for Freedom; tell us a little about this and the charities you support.
Yes, we took on the four trails – Maclehose, Hong Kong, Wilson and Lantau! It’s around 300km with 18,600m in elevation over four days for two organisations: STOP (Stop Trafficking of People) and TAILS Lantau.
STOP (stop.hk) is a small charity that works to stop trafficking in Hong Kong. They do an amazing job in first finding the enslaved victims and then supporting them through the process of getting them home. At the moment, they’re looking after nine women; however, the numbers have been equally male and female.
TAILS (tailslantau.org) is an animal rescue organisation based where we live on Lantau. They resume abused and abandoned animals and then rehabilitate them and find them forever homes.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies in Hong Kong?
Jo: I spend most of my time hiking and exploring Lantau. In normal times, I’d also spend a lot of time travelling, enjoying Asia and obviously in Hokkaido, Japan. I love reading too; however, work is really a hobby so no matter where we go I’m always looking at opportunities with land and property!
Catherine: I’m a trail runner and have competed in a number of races such as Translantau 50, LT70, HK 100 Half, and Lantau 2 Peaks – I’m also involved with the Asia Trail Girls promoting trail running to women in Hong Kong. I am an avid hiker and rock climber, too, and last year my boyfriend Andrew and I got into stream trekking, which was a lot of fun to cool down in the summer heat.
Some quick questions about Hong Kong: what is your favourite …
Jo: My wife’s! (www.novyskitchen.com)
Catherine: Being able to bring our dog to join us is important, so for me it would have to be the China Beach Club; great food and the view overlooking Silvermine Bay beach as the sun sets is amazing.
Jo: My wife’s cooking is the best!
Catherine: I have to agree with Jo; Novy Lodder cooks some amazing food. Apart from that, the dai pai dong at the Mui So cooked food market does the best sweet and sour tofu.
Date night restaurant?
Jo: Our date night closed recently and we have yet to find that one that we really love – we’re trying different new ones now. Will let you know when we find one!
Catherine: For me, it’s more about the company I’m with rather than the restaurant when it comes to date night. Some of the best date nights I’ve had have been sitting with a bottle of wine and nibbles at the top of a mountain watching the sunset or sitting round a campfire cooking. Food-wise I’m vegan but I love all cuisines – and the spicier the better! POP Vegan is one of my current favourites.
Jo: My wife and I are not really bar people; if I go for a drink, it would be The Beer Bay or the No Name Store at our local beach.
Catherine: I’m also not a big drinker but if I do, my drink of choice is gin. Bars like Quinary, Origin and Ping Pong do very good gin-based cocktails.
Thing to do with visitors?
Jo: A secluded beach with kayaks, secluded waterfalls, or chilling in our garden.
Catherine: in the summer weather, going to many of the waterfalls or some of the secluded beaches we have here, and in the cooler weather, hikes such as Lion Rock, Dragon’s Back and Sunset or Lantau Peak.
Thing to do with kids?
Jo: My kids are grown up but the beach is always fun, or kayaking, hiking and having fun in the countryside. Or going to Ark Eden just up the road from me, run by a great friend, Jenny Quintin.
Nearby holiday destination?
Jo: I live by the beach and mountains so my home feels like a holiday destination. But I love going to Hokkaido, Koh Samui, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve found my favourite destination – there are so many places to explore!
Catherine: I’m a big fan of active holidays; my ideal holiday would be something like trekking through the mountain regions of Vietnam or Nepal. One of my most memorable trips so far was trekking the Druk Path in Bhutan, which was an incredible experience – spending the night in a monesterary and travelling through remote villages and amazing scenery.
See more in our Living in Hong Kong section!