Our series of online people profiles covers a wide range of backgrounds, careers and personalities of individuals in Hong Kong. Here, we meet author and fishing enthusiast MIKE SHARP, who tells us not about “the one that got away”, but rather the one he wishes he never caught!
Where are you from originally? What do you miss about it?
I’m originally from Newbury in Berkshire, in the UK. Newbury is a quiet town famous for two English Civil War battles, its racecourse and Highclere Castle; the latter well known for its appearance in the hit TV series Downton Abbey.
West Berkshire is stunningly beautiful with mixed farming land, country lanes, picturesque villages, the Hampshire Downs to the south, and crystal-clear chalk-stream rivers such as the Lambourn and the Kennet. These are the surroundings I grew up in, and I miss them, my extended family, plus the freshwater fishing, of course.
Tell us about your expat “trail”. When did you first come here? Where else have you lived?
Hong Kong has been my home since 1988. Prior to that, I went where the Army sent me; namely Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Canada, Malaysia and Brunei. I was posted here with my regiment and started life in Stanley Fort.
I was fascinated by the different cultures in Southeast Asia and saw an opportunity to advance my career in the disciplined forces. I applied for the Royal Hong Kong Police in 1990 and, after passing selection, commenced training at the Police College in Aberdeen in July 1991.
Is Hong Kong “home”?
Although Hong Kong has been my home for the past 32 years, I fear my love affair with the Territory is diminishing. I’ll be looking to re-locate in the near future – probably to Indonesia.
What do you do here? Tell us about your business.
I retired from the police in 2016 and worked in the renewable energy industry for three years. Currently, I’m self-employed and teaching English and bushcraft (outdoor skills) to youngsters. I’ve also written a couple of books.
Why did you write the books?
Writing a book is like taking a journey and it drives you to research more and experience more in life. My book writing incorporated a lot of travelling with my co-author John Peters, and fantastic illustrations from my wife Lizzie, who is a talented artist.
What are they about?
We have written Fishing in Hong Kong and Fishing around Thailand with Road and Line. The Hong Kong book was aimed at reconnecting expats to sport angling here, as many were unaware of the destinations around the Territory. In respect of the Thailand book, we wrote that for the British market as so many of them visit Thailand for the fishing. The place is full of gigantic fish and often covered on TV documentaries exploring its interesting species.
How did you get into fishing and why do you enjoy it?
I grew up watching Jack Hargreaves fishing on British TV and at the age of 12 became a fanatic.
If you fish in Hong Kong, where do you go?
I generally fish the rivers near the border with Shenzen. There are some huge specimens swimming around those rivers and their existence is a massive draw to anglers like me. I also fish the Sai Kung coastline; my wife likes me to bring some fish back for the table – if they’re big enough!
Could you share an anecdote about a favourite fishing experience?
After breaking my back in 2005, I went fishing in Thailand in the summer of 2006. While there, I asked the guides not to target the large Mekong catfish as they’re really strong and grow to huge size. Well, sometime in the afternoon, my carp rod alarmed and I found myself fighting what turned out to be a 130 pound (almost 60kg) Mekong catfish! It took an hour to get in. It was really painful and not what I wanted. After releasing it, I had to walk round the lake twice to unlock my back that had seized up!
Give us an insight into a typical working day for you.
My average day consists of half a day behind a computer, preparing lessons, with the other half spent either teaching or doing something outdoors such as hiking, fishing or gardening.
What have been the surprises and challenges of doing business in HK?
This is an easy place to set up a business. It’s not so easy to get a business account though; would recommend Bank of China for the latter.
What neighbourhood do you live in, and why did you choose it?
I live in Sai Kung and have been there since 2000 when I saw an opportunity to escape the pollution of HK Island.
What are three things you like about your neighbourhood?
The rural setting with hiking trails and jungle, the access to the sea, and an active social life with local residents.
Describe your home to us.
I live in a village house with my wife and a crazy beagle. It’s next to the jungle and sometimes the local wildlife will drop in to say hello.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies in Hong Kong?
I hike, swim and fish.
Quick questions about Hong Kong: what is your favourite …
Casual restaurant? Hebe Haven Yacht Club, Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung.
Date night restaurant? Used to be American Peking; I haven’t found a suitable replacement, though I do like the Indonesia restaurant in Granville Road, TST.
Bar? Bacco in Sai Kung, and Slims near Pacific Place 3.
Local food? Villa Villa, Sai Kung.
Thing to do with visitors? Take them to Tai O; it’s really different and very beautiful. The spicy shrimp paste is a knockout.
Thing to do with kids? Anything that involves water.
Nearby holiday destination? We definitely miss weekends in Macau and look forward to visiting Bali and Thailand when the virus lifts!
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