Illusion

Stirred up sky

I’m right at a city where every hipster kid wishes to visit at least once in their life. It’s quite a statement now that it suddenly popped out of my head after watching a youtuber guiding through the cities and a number of foreign people that actually stays in Hong Kong.

Watching guides of Hong Kong have benefited myself in a way on things I normally do would not take it for granted. It allows me to reflect and appreciate although I cannot travel as many as others, I get to live in a city where everyone wants to visit.

Work to build

Maybe I do not have the luxury to experience the high-end part of the city in substantial ways, I take it as a smaller population’s activities. After all, it’s still an attraction to the world and foreign population. It’s an illusion to many of us locals to live life in an alternative way/their ways. On one side, the social media allows us to peek through other people’s lives which forms an illusion to allure yourself; On the other side, we still have our pals from our childhood living (if not better) in a relatively similar lifestyle. What’s the norm, does it matter when we’re not supposed to compare? Many says at the end of the day we’re all the same, sleep on a bed. It’s painful to not compare, you just have to be super disciplined.

Squares

Give a pad to your own shoulder, it’s not all that bad after all. The key is to create your own space. I’m not referring to a physical space, but more of a your happy ritual. Whether it’s habit, hobby, activity, anything that comforts yourself, it’s something for yourself (or can be shared with a partner). When you know this is something that nobody can take away from you, you’d naturally be comforted.

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3 months have passed since my last proper hike. All things happened for a reason, except mine occurs to be always spontaneous. If it wasn’t a random conversation sparked up at an event, I wouldn’t bother to pack and head out early. I mentioned about this route that I considered the hardest (out of the blue). It was the steepest one I had climbed in the early days. Then the conversation got cut off by whatever reason, or just me not able to continue on or switch topic. It was all awkward anyway at the event without anyone I know.

Sunset

I revisited to my first steep hiking experience. It was when I wore my jeans and walking shoes. Now when I recall the entire experience, it was all different. It’s different the fact that I did not carry that same motivation to conquer the peak as I’d done already. It’s different the fact that I now know how to climb up and down, and to pace myself; though I used a different and longer path this time.

It’d always been a test to my endurance and determination. I wanted to see if I can still do it. My question follows, do I still want to?

Unlike my previous experience which left my legs sore for almost a week. My legs were fine the day after. I notice I needed extra rests at the hike which I normally would suck up until reaching the finish line. That can be explained with the absence of cardio exercise and the prolong period of time away from the mountains.

Action!

Hours

A tiny compact zoom camera (not typical of me) snapping beside of many unknown strangers (for a little while, they thought I was a curious pedestrian).

Unseen

It was a bit out of the blue when I got asked to perform a behind-the-scene photoshoot in a video shoot. It’s random not because of how little (but enough) I know about this person, it’s because I did not ever expect anyone would come to me for non-business related help. Maybe it’s career-related, but you get it. As I arrived at the meeting point, I did not expect there’d be that many personnels involved when I arrived at the meeting location.

The Actress

The nature of behind-the-scene is just my game. I’d always wanted to photo-document the unseen, behind the curtain, out of the spotlight.

I understood I would not be there if I weren’t asked to be in it. I treated it an experience of my life. I met the director, filming crew, actresses, makeup artist, coordinators and even the executive producer flew from Southeast Asia. It was all so magical even now when I look back. A director that was so vocal giving out direction to his crew like a coach/chief detective. There was the makeup artist busy handing out a portable electric fans for the actresses in between each scene. At one point we had 20 people on a set. There were 2-3 SUVs carrying all of us around in the district, though I only rode twice together.

Tangled wires

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6 months of my re-newed life has passed, I see myself have been able to read, able to realize what’s a good place to read, able to read the topics I’m into. It’s my transition from hiking through the mountains to reading through the passages. Unfortunately, that would not allow me to create any photographic content for you all. Worry not, photographer can always find ways to visualize moments in  broken pieces and put them back together.

The Award Winner

Roses

This trip would not exist if it was not the HK Food & Culture book I participated in the making. The book was selected among 5 others nominees in the Asian Cuisine under Asia Region at an important cook books Oscar. We were invited to join at the award ceremony in Yantai, China. Together with our author and translator/coordinator, we flew over to the northeast part of Mainland. There were hiccups in miscommunications here and there. In the end, we were able to got over it. Not only we knew nothing about the city and surroundings, we did not believe there’s any place that we thought it’d be fun for us. It’s truly a trip of a kind for us.

Pavilion

The location we stayed at was the Development District in Yantai, about an hour drive to the downtown. The district was mostly a property developing zone with hotels by the promenade along the infinite coast. The entire time at the hotel I saw South Koreans. I learned that Yantai is one of the closest travel destinations for them. It was not what I intended to be seeing at a zone without a lot of nearby attractions. The district can be stranded on its own.

Malt Sugar Doll Master

The beauty at their scattered tourist attractions, such as the Ancient Penglai Pavilion, the long Golden Coast, mesmerising Tianma Bridge are just so underrated. And the tourists map was misleading as if the places were in manageable walking distance. They’re just taxi rides away and basically hire for half a day.

Penglai

As I sat on a taxi looking out the window, I was amazed by a series of things their highways are now very well built, totally reminds me of the States. Real flowers are just too real not to be fake at the Penglai Pavilion park. Structures at the promenade looked more advanced and modern than ours in Hong Kong. All these made me questioned when our city dynamo (the government and elected legislators) will wake up and look around what needs to be done in order to catch up. In many areas, we’re just doing an average job by not improving the hardware. If our city continues to divide, all of us will suffer the consequence.

Flowers

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Mom and Son Statue

And the winner goes to … our book! That’s right, even I was shocked for a brief moment as I walked from all the way back to the stage. We all went up to the stage and received the certificate, as well as providing a brief thank you speech. I said “Hong Kong is such a tiny place in the world, it’s such an honor stand on the stage in front of all of you guys from around the world.” We received hugs, handshakes and congratulations from the people we had met over there. I was overwhelmed by all these respect and recognition even I was just a photographer for the book.

Lead the way

This event was a nice gathering with all the food related professionals on earth. We met writers from France, Portugal, Sweden, Japan, South Africa and more. Maybe at times, the common English we used were slightly broken; we got to connect to one another by a bit more patience and listening.

Calligraphy

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Mom and Son

“Excuse me, I can’t put these 3 rolls in the X-ray scanner.” The conversation between me and the Chinese custom officials went on for a few short minutes. The scanner has labelled ‘film safe’, I totally got fooled by it and the officials. I wish there’s a form I could fill out for manual inspection. 

Random Playground

It’s the last thing I want to see, that is to mess up my few days of travelogue. And this is what exactly happened. These cine films looked like expired polaroids. Not sure if it’s too good of a thing? 

Physique

“Another pair of jeans in skinny fit I found today fitted like a glove.”

Shading the city

The number one question I get most of the time is, how can you be so skinny? There’re several meanings to this question.

How do you stay in shape?
Do you ever get fat?
Are you stressed?
Is there anything wrong with your body?
You look terrible.
I’m jealous.

Rocky beach

When I look at my diet and regularity of exercise, I understood this is my shape. I try to avoid junk food, spam, greasy deep fried/stir fried. Soda is a big no for me. I might be eating slightly less when food is average. On any given day, I just spend time walking with elevation. There used to be an older gentleman we used to see each other every other week when I was in a college gym. He said ‘Everybody has a different physique. It came from your parent’s genes’. I found it so true and I since then not seeking after a particular body. But one thing that has not even stopped was to train my core body. I may not look like I’m only wrapped with skin, but I’m actually a lot more agile than I look.

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Island by an island

Today was the first real day off after a hectic week. I returned to my go-to Thai restaurant in North Point and also picked up something new. An old-fashioned thousand year egg pastry which was special, considering myself not a fan of the thousand year eggs. It was surprisingly good when mixed with lotus paste. I almost thought I got a cold while I was reading a few pages of local monthly journal in a park. I was sneezing throughout the day. I then realized it must had been the PM2.5 I’ve inhaled in the open area, as news was reporting all week. I feel totally fine now at home.

I cannot imagine what it’s like in some other cities plagued by smog. Some of us people just forgot what a clear sky was.

Common Ground

Little Thai Paradise

The real definition of old town is more than what underlies it. You see, you feel, you touch, you smell, you interpret all the mysteries in a way no one can show you. You do not need to know the history well enough to be able to understand the old district. The people there, how they live, eat, chill would just guide your way through an unspoken language.

Old body with an transplanted soul is no longer the same entity. Some takes it as an upgrade rather than a transplant; whichever way it is, the community is just not the same.

Temple

What, you a dinosaur? Perhaps I’m. Others tell you to adapt and you think there’s always room to not.

When was your last time visiting a shop that’s at least 20 year-old in the city or even a family-run business that has passed down from at least 2 generations? I’m not here to convince you to go support these businesses. I want to know to the point where we have lost it all and bury all these common memories in the museums. Do not we have any regret? When it’s gone, it’s all gone.

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Last month I had explored a few locations in the city because of the crave of good food. The things that reminded me of those old memories; were the few really old temples which I never bother to enter, the toy speedboat at a park and the names of the road. The roads are the same but the rest are very much like a movie set. You can erase them over and over again.

Speedboating

The subway is too convenient and we all are forgetting what’s traveling from district to district is like. I remember when I was little, I used to take a long bus ride with my family to tea house at the pier every other weekend. That’s 13 subway stations away.

Our generation is on the verge of loving the new urban city development for chic hangout places as well as convenience for all, and the urgency to halt all the removal that’s from a longer past. The common ground is not negotiable, and sometimes miraculously ignored by the residents nearby. There’re just too many people, too many people’s rights to say yes and no. Everywhere in the world is more or less the same, except we are just so populated.

Jump high

Kwun Tong is a district I grew up before I attended my secondary school, it’s currently undergoing this transformation. One of the longest running McDonald’s branch in HK was closed last month in Kwun Tong. It was opened in 1981.

Impulse

Horse back

The air is fresher, the sun gives you tan, the wind gently brushes through your skin, the feeling of alive, the guaranteed front row seat of every spectacular views, the boosted energy and metabolism for the rest of the week. I remember how good it was when I spent most of my life in an office during the week and was only to able see the nature in my day offs. Maybe I just wanted to find peace, I wanted to escape, I wanted that serendipity. Now when I’m as free as I want to be, I found myself not as mentally motivated as I used to be. I have not seen this coming.

Family

My reaction to the early wake-up alarm, the actual morning breakfast (hardly any now) are among those sideline routines I miss the most. Do I still long for these outdoor journeys?

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Blue Heart

It’s the coolest thing to buy what’s hip, what’s stylish. Headphones, clothes, cellphones, watches, shoes, bags, jewelries, travel package, I’m guilty as charge on a few items just listed. My longtime chat friend told me recently, he said ‘do not live beyond your means’. It was a bit of a wake up call to myself after shopping here and there for the past 2 months.

Heaven

It’s such an irony when I look at some of my self-portrait, I discovered I’d been wearing the same hike ‘uniform’ for more than a year now. Even my shoes have shown serious wear on the sole. This is what needed to be replaced soon rather than a couple other new shirts which they would likely be hung than worn (mostly because of the warm weather here). A very typical of me.

While I Can

Me at the abandoned school

I wish to find more ways to represent myself in the city. It’s always in my mind that when I get to the prime of my career or be important, I can live like a real person so full of confidence. It’s the golden age of everyone’s life during the 30s. I’m already a true display of the generation. And that had led me to think, I must dress well, look better while I still can.

Fashion has always been on the loop to me. I never try anything complicated and the nature of casual wear which I love should never be that complicated. It all derives from denim (my jeans). Thanks to my teenage grunge rock influence and a popular Japanese reality show (電波少年) back then. Who’d have thought someone with a broken pants can be on the stage rocking in front of thousands, right? It’s so much joy to see all the little details (stitching, buttons, rivets…) vary from brand to brand. I had invested my favorite and probably the most expensive pair so far to a Dutch brand 2 years ago. The Dutch designers just know denim!

Inevitably, fashion comes with a price…

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Golden moment

It was interestingly enough that I did my first ever visit to the Art Basel HK this year. As I’d imagine, the exhibits were everywhere. However, none of them makes any sense to me. I did know know what the artists’ intentions were, what messages they tried to convey. On the other hand, I carefully observed the visitors in front of each art. Almost all of them were snapping pictures, selfies. Everybody care less about which master did it anyway. This type of fair is less than ideal to appreciate art. The fair and gallery curators had assumed the public already knows about the artists they represent. I’m sure their job is just to sell as much as they can.

It’s just very odd. This reminds me of the wine trade shows for trade visitors only, but they somehow let the public visitors in. One thing that I’m certain, neither of us has earned any art knowledge, nor raised our art awareness.