Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hong Kong (the photo shoot)

Hey y'all!!! The long-awaited photos from my shoot in Hong Kong are finally here. This series was taken in a small village on Lamma Island. The rustic and abandoned feel of the location was exactly what I was looking for. These pictures were taken by a film camera (yes, people still use these) and then scanned so some of them might seem grainy or blurry. But still I am extremely happy with them and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. Thanks for the shoot Gab!

PS: Which is your favourite picture?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hong Kong (the videos)

People say that a picture speaks a thousand words and so naturally a video speaks a thousand pictures. So to save me the time it takes to type one million words, I will show you some of the videos I have taken whilst I was in Hong Kong.

Lunch on a weekday at Tsui Wah in Central. My order came just as I was taking the video. Can you tell that from watching?

On board the tram up to The Peak. Holding of the handrail was a must as the incline steepened.

It was too foggy a day for the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride to be worth the money but I did it anyway. Now I know what it feels like to float into the unknown.

Running up the long flight of stairs to get closer to Buddha. The heavy panting towards the end was not due to a lack of stamina but the extra effort I had to take in order to squirm rapidly past the crowd.

Shopping at Ladies’ Market. This is a huge attraction of Hong Kong right? I wonder…

One more disappointment during the trip–the dim sum experience at Lin Heung Teahouse. Haven’t I already learnt the lesson of not going into things with expectations?

Sorry to bore you with yet another letdown–The Symphony of Lights.

On board the Ding Ding tram–the lazy man’s way to see Hong Kong without having to walk.

The serene racecourse at Happy Valley with spectacular views. I actually had an urge to run around the track naked.

A video of the vacation’s gravest mistake– poor walking shoes. I am amazed I did not throw them away during the trip.

Hong Kong traffic during off-peak hours. Can you tell that it is off-peak?

Human traffic at Central station–I missed the earlier travelator stretch where people walked shoulder-to-shoulder. That is Hong Kong for you.

One more interesting happened in Hong Kong (the amateur photo shoot) and I will share those photos as soon as they become available. I hope you are half as eager to see them as me–I simply cannot wait any longer!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hong Kong (the more interesting stuff)

OK, whether these pictures are “interesting” or not is debatable but I just wanted to single them out because I think they deserve separate attention.

I chanced upon this shop in Causeway Bay selling popcorn of all sorts of strange flavours ranging from sweet (eg. watermelon) to savoury (eg. cajun) ones. However I am not a fan of popcorn so I gave buying some a pass.

After paying HKD23 to enter the Giant Buddha (which gave me a small but free vegetarian meal), one would see the legendary singer Anita Mui’s tablet. Though not an attraction per se, it was a little hard to miss. No photography was allowed but I guess I am a rebel.

There was police presence everywhere on the streets. I was told that was because of an acid-splashing incident and subsequent copycat cases. I think with such levels of human traffic flow everywhere and at any time of the day, there should always be police presence with or without acid-splashers!

This was supposed to be the exact location where the acid-splash took place. I guess crowded spots are the best for such acts.

H1N1 and its impact. About 10% of the commuters on public transport were wearing masks (not sure if they did that more to avoid catching something or to prevent others from catching what they had) and I did see mask-wearing people in Singapore as well (not as commonplace). It is rare to see mask-wearers in Sydney though.

I guess with such hilly landscapes in Hong Kong, slopes have to be carefully documented with associated risks properly studied eg. rock falls, erosion, etc. Still it was strange to see a sign like that right smack in the city centre.

There were plenty of missing-dog notices on Lamma Island. Oddly I only saw dogs at the built-up ends of the island but not during the trek across it.

Although having a seafood meal either at Lamma Island or Sai Kung was in my itinerary, the way these touting shop owners went about their business just turned me off. Lamma Hilton–should I laugh or cry?

If you were not paying attention, you would miss this interesting little tidbit. In most apartment elevators, the floor numbers with the inauspicious “4” in them would be skipped. I guess those with numbering OCDs would find it hellish to live in such apartments.

This was where I took my forty winks in Hong Kong. The sofa bed felt uncomfortable at first but I was so beat at the end of every night that I could fall asleep on a slab of spiky stone! The apartments are small and LEGO-like (developers pack as many buildings and storeys as possible in a given area) but I find them cosily so–I do not mind staying in small apartments per se although I would definitely mind staying in this bustling mad house we call Hong Kong.

The kind soul who put me up and saved me much money. We were having supper at Temple Street’s Mido Café.

My photographer friend who brought me around. We were on the Star Ferry going to Wan Chai.

Ah… Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The entire trip was not unpleasant but after living in Sydney and getting used to its pace of life, that of Hong Kong was simply out-of-this-world–I was so glad when the trip finally came to an end. It was good while it lasted but I do not foresee visiting you anytime soon (maybe never), my Pearl of the Orient.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hong Kong (days 3 - 5)

Here are the rest of the standard vacation pictures from my trip to Hong Kong. Enjoy!

Day 3

I am not sure why I was recommended to go to Lin Heung. I guess it was more of an ambience thing because the dim sum was really not that impressive.

Luckily it was cheap to eat there. I over-ordered as I forgot that pork was a definite no-no for the friend I dined with.

This overhead bridge simply went on and on–the longest I have seen.

Do I look like just another busy city rat racing to work? Well I was “trying” to blend in.

Repulse Bay taken on board a bus. Apartments in Hong Kong are obscenely pricey and a unit at Repulse Bay could easily set you back millions.

Stanley Market in the early morning on a weekday was practically a ghost town (of course a die-hard Japanese shopping tour group was still spotted). I did find something to buy though.

Well it was still a beach and people go topless at beaches right? There was a lone old uncle jogging by the water at Stanley Beach who was totally oblivious to my camera-timered photo shoot.

This is Tsim Sha Tsui in the day, busy just like any other built-up area I visited during my trip regardless of the time of day. Too bad shops in Singapore don't close as late (and too bad shops in Sydney don't close as late as Singaporean ones!).

Langham Place (a somewhat trendy but typical shopping centre in Mong Kok) was not huge horizontally but vertically. This picture was taken from the 13th floor.

The “Flower Street” filled with Lunar New Year blossoms. It was really not that interesting but I had to respect the author of my itinerary–me!

I have always wondered how horticulturists grow a plant to such a state. Fruit-filled with no leaves and geometrically-arranged. The plant must have been grown in a very controlled environment –physically, nutritionally and likely genetically.

During the “Symphony of Lights” both sides of the harbour were supposed to interact with each other but no one could ever be at both places at the same time to verify that. Anyway the music was way louder than the lights on this foggy and windy night. It is a great attempt at animating a concept as dead as a skyline though.

Taking the Star Ferry across the Victoria Harbour was one of the attractions of Hong Kong. I wonder… But it was really a very quick route especially when my destination that night was exactly Wan Chai.

Day 4

This is part of the Ding Ding tram route. I took pictures of the entire route because I could not find it online or anywhere else.

My first Ding Ding tram stop was at the eastern end of Hong Kong Island. This was a typical market at Shau Kei Wan where housewives shop in the morning very much like everywhere else in Asia.

The Hong Kong Film Archive was one of my to-see places and my itinerary indicated that it closes on Thursdays and I actually forgot and went there on a Thursday. Well I am still going to plan with all my might till the end of my days!

The thing about Hong Kong is even in small unknown eating places one could find the best wanton noodles. The springiness of the noodles and the wanton filling were just better than those of other places.

The famous racecourse at Happy Valley was quiet that day as there were no scheduled races. I would imagine this place being packed to the rafters on a race day.

The wonderful thing about the racecourse was not only the contrast between the dense skyline (with the mountain backdrop) and the wide open space but it was so peaceful and quiet compared to frantic Causeway Bay just a stone’s throw away.

Another camera-timered shot. Many trials were attempted and I like this one the most.

Don’t you know me by now? How can I miss this photo op?

This is a rest shed for Ding Ding tram drivers. The trams were really slow (which was the whole point) but they came very frequently and was the perfect place to rest my sore feet.

The signboards along the streets that are so representative of Hong Kong.

The back alleys at Central were filled with stalls selling all sorts of knick knacks. Again it was surreal as the backdrop of skyscrapers in the CBD was separated from these old-school stalls by just a mere street.

Lan Kwai Fong in the day (the wrong time to visit). I would not have thought much of it otherwise anyway as it was a very small area filled with pubs (yawn!). If I wanted to see rowdy and drunk angmohs, I would have stayed in Sydney and peered out of my apartment window.

Valentine’s Day versus Chinese New Year. Which do you prefer?

Eeeek! They are everywhere!!!

I certainly would not want to be stuck in the sea of humans all immobile and helpless. Well I got stuck in it by mistake anyhow. Madness I tell you, madness!!!

As my housemate had to work late (sometimes till 11pm!) I was forced to pass my time watching a movie. I watched “Confucius” at Admiralty's Pacific Place. This shopping centre was top-notch in terms of class–each of the superbly-decored toilets came with its own attendant handing you towels personally. Now Singapore (the self-proclaimed shopping paradise) could really take a leaf out of Hong Kong’s book.

Day 5

What a lame pose as suggested by my mate travelling to Lamma Island with me. But he served a very important purpose that day–as the photographer of my first-ever topless shoot in Hong Kong.

The signboard that greeted us when we arrived really showed off the rustic quality of things to come, which was a nice break from the claustrophobia of city life though.

This was the view from the Yong Shue Wan end which was definitely more interesting than the other side (So Kwu Wan) and this was probably why all guide books recommend starting the island tour from here.

A Tin Hau temple on the Island. There are a lot of these Tin Hau temples in Hong Kong. Can someone kindly tell me who this Tin Hau is?

We chanced upon a strange sight in the pristine natural landscape. I never expected to find a power station there.

Creation of nature versus creation of man. Hong Kong is indeed a place of interesting contrasts.

Can you feel the nature-loving trekker screaming and bursting out of the picture? I am still waiting for the pictures of the photo shoot from my friend (and I don’t think I can wait much longer!!!).

We wanted to venture down to the beach for our shoot but the moment we saw people down by the coastline, we knew that a naked shoot was out of the question. But we subsequently found a very nice shoot location. You will find out where soon enough!

This family actually used the ferry to move house–an amazing sight indeed.

So what do you think of my five days of touring in Hong Kong? I did not have time for Sai Kung and deliberately gave Shenzhen and Macau a miss. Do you think I have seen enough of the country to not visit it again? Stay tuned for more Hong Kong stuff coming up.