I had 70 hours of classroom training and three months of practical training before becoming an ecotour guide. In the classroom, I was taught about nature, road-bike safety and skills in dealing with tourists. For the practical training, I became familiar with ecotour routes.
There is no structured career path for being an ecotour guide. But with more experience, you can take on duties such as supervising staff and go into management. Experience is very important for the job. Many things can happen in the outdoors and the ability to handle a crisis is often built on experience.
Race to the top:
A guide should be passionate about learning new things and have a love of nature. I love plants and animals and do research to get the latest information about different species of plants and animals to tell the tourists.
I meet people from all ages and backgrounds and everyone has different demands. I have to be patient and communicate with them in order to provide the best service. Tourists love to take pictures. I often come up with special angles for them to take pictures.
Rewards and benefits:
Part-time workers get HK$33 to HK$53 per hour, depending on their experience. A full-time guide starts at about HK$9,000 a month.
A day at work:
I work from 10am to 6pm. I begin by checking the bicycles to make sure they are safe to ride. When the tourists arrive at about 11am, I will brief them about the route we will go on and rules that have to be obeyed when riding bicycles. I always tell them to ride in single file keeping to the left, and not to go too fast because it's not a race. The tour finishes at 5pm or 6pm. After the tourists are gone, I will check the bicycles and equipment, and place them in a storeroom.
Weekends and public holidays are my busiest time, so I usually take time off on a week day.
Cavalier: The tour guide who is in charge of keeping bicycles in a formation and helps to direct traffic when the bicycles have to cross a road.
Hit the bird: A tour guide will say this when he or she spots a bird that they want to show to the crowd of tourists with them.
Clean the glass: When a guide tells a colleague to clean the glass, it means the tourists are not riding in single file and the guides need to sort it out.