Welcome to Humans of Hong Kong, a brand-new video series on Localiiz that takes a deeper look at the many colourful characters and unique personalities that call our beloved city home. In this episode, we go exploring with Jasmine Nunns, animal welfare and environmental conservationist, and Hong Kong’s first certified Nature & Forest Therapy Guide, to learn about forest bathing, the wild side of Hong Kong, and reconnecting with nature.
For many who live here, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most modern cities, a metropolis, a concrete jungle sparkling with lights. But for Jasmine Nunns, the core of this city is in its nature. Born to an English father and a Cantonese mother, Nunns grew up in Tai Po’s Lam Tsuen, where she spent a good portion of her childhood frolicking in the great outdoors: climbing trees, swimming in rivers, getting stuck in mud, digging up earthworms, and rescuing every kind of animal she came across. It’s clear that elements of nature in Hong Kong are what reminds her of home as she tells us wistfully of climbing trees as a child and eating fruits like lychee straight off the branches.
As the city modernised over the years, the environment evolved before Nunns’ very eyes. Though a beautiful metropolitan haven has been built, nature giving way was inescapable. It was this sense of nostalgia which made her understand the importance of remembering that we are all part of this earth, and falling in love again with natural environments.
This is why Nunns went on to found Kembali, a home-grown company offering nature and forest therapy walks and workshops. “I couldn’t find an English word that describes that sense of being… a part of nature. ‘Reconnection’ was the closest,” she muses. Eventually, she decided on Kembali, an Indonesian word meaning “to return, or come back to”. Science is now proving what our ancestors instinctively knew and lived—that nature is healing, and Nunns is determined to help people tap back into that rejuvenating connection.
It’s not just people that are in need of healing; Hong Kong has been going through some tough times, as has the rest of the world. It’s more important now than ever to be surrounded by a sense of peace amidst the pressures of dense urban living. Nunns adds, “Given the challenging times, it can be incredibly healing socially, emotionally, and physically to spend time intentionally...experiencing the peace and joy and fascination that nature offers us.” Nunns herself makes a point of regularly visiting spaces that are healing for her: places with water such as streams and waterfalls in particular. She always ends her Kembali walks with a tea ceremony, made with tea leaves she finds in nature; one cup is always offered to Mother Nature as a gesture of gratitude for nurturing us, bringing that innate connection full circle.
Nunns starts tearing up sentimentally as she talks about Hong Kong’s ever-present strength.
“There’s a sense of resilience and determination; it’s knowing that things are going to be different, and that everyone will get through this together.” This small, beautiful city is constantly elevated to greater heights by the amazing people that inhabit it. Nunns, who has always felt more of a connection with her Asian heritage, is determined to continue her work in healing using the power of nature. “You know Hong Kong will always recover. That’s what I love about Hong Kong.”