Not so very long ago, I was talking with Gianni, my Italian friend who is living in Jakarta, about the remarkably strong will of survival of the grassroots. And the term resilience was spelled out, without doubt.
Walking throughout the streets of Hong Kong reminded me of our conversation. Resilient is also very pronounced here. Be it the street performers; the cleaners, those selling fake electronics; or that talking guy trying to get you to an Indian restaurant nearby. From Mong Kok to Victoria Harbour and Victoria Peak, to the small lanes in between the skyscrapers in the luxurious Times Square and Central where the not-so-hygienic-but-cheap food and clothing can be found. I am sure in other countries there are similar people who are just too stubborn to give up, and continue living. And man how I envy these guys!
And without knowing, suddenly I’m hearing Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger singing in my mind…
Risin’ up back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive….
Imagine this. You have never been to Hong Kong (nor New York). When you arrived at the Hong Kong airport, you spent the first hour inside underground, hopping from one train to another. You alight in Mong Kok station, Kowloon, and went up to the surface. And !!BAM!! you were suddenly surrounded by humongous skyscrapers, huge billboard lights in glittering colours, and a massive crowd.
Overwhelmed. That’s how I felt. And immediately all the scenes from those Hong Kong mafia and gang warfare movies came alive. And I fell in love with the scenes at my first sight. I stared in awe to the colours, the reflections, the shapes of those rounded building corners, and those window-styled air-condition protruding from old buildings. I spent a few nights walking the streets around Times Square and Mong Kok area capturing the scenery with my 10-22mm wide angle lens, which is a perfect companion for these subjects. All shots except the first two are composite of three frames (-2 to +2 stop) with 2 stops interval. All frames were taken handheld. Here they are.
Last December, as photographer for their solemnation, I witnessed how Lidia and Ralph took care of their daughter Nadine with all her rather defiant mood. Through my lens, during the pre-wedding session and the ceremony, I saw their patience, and love for Nadine. Allow me to share with you all some of their best captured affections —and Nadine’s expressions, below.
Thank you for stopping by, have a wonderful Valentine and a greeaat weekend ahead.
We celebrated this year’s Chinese New Year right in the middle of Singapore’s centre of attraction in Chinatown. They have these giant lantern horses beautifully lit in red and white, and old Chinese gold coins flying around.
To be able to get better frames out of the crowd, I had to either poke my 70-200mm lens through a hole on the fence of Garden Bridge (top picture), shoot from the middle of the street when the traffic light turned red (second picture), climb many of the concrete blocks put there as weight for the extra electricity poles (second picture from the bottom), or shoot from a bridge 200m away (bottom picture).
So yes, welcome to the Year of the Horse, and may prosperity and good health linger around you!
If there is one thing that is very commendable about Hong Kong’s International Airport, it is its Airport Express trains. Running every 10 minutes, it is linking AsiaWorld Expo and the airport which is located in Lantau Island to Hong Kong’s centre of activities in Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Hong Kong MTR stations. It even has a city check in counters and free shuttle bus to major hotels in both Kowloon and Hong Kong stations.
From the airport it will take us a swift 20 minutes to reach the city. The staff at the ticketing counter is very helpful in answering tourist questions about the best shortest to take to our lodging. The train cabins are clean and modern. It is equipped with a television, and -most important- a free WiFi to accompany our short trip! And if you are worried as to when to go down, don’t, as on every door there is a LED indicator showing us where we are.
On the day when you return to the airport, don’t be so troubled in looking for Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. Unlike Singapore’s Changi trains, where you may have to jump to different trains before reaching your Terminal, Hong Kong’s airport express trains are designed such that whenever you are leaving the train at the airport, Terminal 1 will always be on your right exit, and Terminal 2 on your left. And out of the train, a row of neatly arranged trolleys are ready to carry all your excess luggage.
Here’s the route that we took to reach Mong Kok: jump out of the airport express at Tsing Yi station. Go down one level to level U1, take the Tung Chung line Concourse/Maritime Square MTR (yellow line), change MTR at Lai King (only 1 station), take the red line (direction Hong Kong station), and alight at Mong Kok, 6 stations away. There is an alternative route involving less train change, but you will need to walk quite a bit more between Hong Kong and Central stations through an underground. I would also recommend getting your Octopus card (electronic payment card for all MTR service in Hong Kong) when you purchase your airport express ticket.
Everybody who goes to Hong Kong will want to go to the Avenue of Stars (and Disneyland, but this is another story). And I wonder why. I have walked the avenue with my family, starting from the Star Ferry Pier. The view is nice, we get to see the skyline of Hong Kong. But to expect the stars… well… the only star there last week was Bruce Lee, and he looked a bit odd without any shirt in the chilly 10 degrees Centigrade. And don’t talk about the Symphony of Lights. It is amazingly boring with a few green lasers flying by from the top of a few distant buildings.
So yes, do visit this place. Start from the Pier somewhere around 5pm. Or even earlier from 1881 Heritage. I spent around 2 hours taking pictures of the Heritage, if you are like me you may want to put enough time. The Pier and the Clock Tower are beautiful subjects to photograph just before sunset when the sun is golden (you may want to check sunset time from your GPS or online). Enjoy the view. But don’t expect anything spectacular at 8pm when the laser starts. Try not to visit it on weekends or public holidays, it’s a very favourite past-time place for locals and foreign workers as well.
Allow me to open 2014 with this short note. I took a shot of this panda in the Ocean Park Hong Kong, which I think has more value than Disneyland (more about this later). It is not bothered by spectators, and couldn’t stop eating the bamboo leaves provided in abundance.
So yes, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and I’m feeling good, and hoping that, wherever you are, you are feeling at least as good as, or even better, than I.
Here’s for a year full of exciting adventures!
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