$3

choices

I was somewhere in a Hong Kong (MTR) subway station waiting for my friends to arrive. I was thirsty and it was sensible to get a bottle of water when the restaurant we were about to head to might not accommodate. The convenient store nearby at the station was selling HKD $8 per bottle for the 250ml distilled water that’s made locally. I’d normally get it when I travel and work. But this time around at possible one of the poorest districts, I thought this was totally wrong to make that $8 purchase.

I went up to the ground and tried to look for a place that sells in a more reasonable price. I was unable to find a shop that sells refreshments in a block distance other than another convenient store that sells at the same price.

This got me thinking how much we got sold to believe the prices are optimal for consumers. It was absurd and I wanted to use it as an experiment to see what I could find in this district. After meeting up with my friends, we headed to the restaurant and on our way there’s a non-franchise convenient store/pharmacy. They had the 750ml bottle from the same brand earlier. It only costed $3.

This tied to some of my recent observations. You could be an idiot the first time and second time if you can’t find the alternative yet. But if you settle for the third time and on, then this is just a wrong cycle for a business that do not deserve. You may argue for a person’s acceptance level. That rule does not change however. I’m only worry that the majority of people settle below the acceptance level, because they all think everything’s fine this way. The acceptance level keeps pushing lower and lower until nobody knows where the initial level was.

Night/Day

I’m a night person. I’m most awaked when in the evening. I don’t sleep until midnight or some say almost the early morning. It gets worse when I’m working flexible hours. Half of my daytime can be my bedtime. The night is when I think I begin seriously working on jobs and projects. I often think I should do the best out of the day (before sun down), so instead of working, I head out just to do whatever I want to.

Over the years, it’s just depressing to sit at a desk in front of office. Unnecessary meetings and gossips had consumed all the mental resources of a good man.

The Day

Before the Night

When the real day begins

I remember a walk in the near by the promenade after lunch was a usual habit to balance out my confused thoughts. It’s still my routine to have this stroll even now and then when possible.

I always had this thought, I should get a taste of how things would be out of the standard 9-6. Precisely, I want to stay out of all the busyness during the peak hours where everything becomes a chaos. Ironically, I’m exactly at it.

Others are thinking how are you going to live with THAT income. It’s simple, as much as it sounds irresponsible, I’m really not. Maybe it’s not about a career switching or how doubtful with my path. I just think it’s a good time, a good opportunity to experiment life with my own provision.

I do believe everyone needs to work hard to get to where you want to be. But an effective way to work hard is far greater than its alone. I want to be able to collaborate and contribute instead of because someone is a boss. Not the ramification I’m referring, it’s the inherited social class from their family that leads to a disconnection with their staff. How they think they’re different and superior had already set a clear boundary for all. It can be intimidating as much as a stranger taking hold of all the activities.

Years Gone By

After all those years in the States, I had friends. Most were students, some were ex-colleagues. Some remained in touch, some just disappeared (back then Facebook was still so new) no matter how hard I try looking them up. There’re always something I have in mind want to say to them as time gone by. They’re part of who I’m now, whether it’s the time we spent in school, hangout, workspace. There were all there for a reason.

If somebody still remembers you, you just have to be thankful you are part of their life as well. You might be just a tiny role under his/her long list of friends. At very least, you are bounded by care and aware of the past in a very similar like way you do.

The Bride

The Groom

This friend of mine used to worked in the same office with me while in the States. He’s not the most talkative in front of me, but in and out of the office he had taught me a few things. He’s always calm on the outside and inside is like a super computer working a formula to solve an equation. Yes, he was in the I.T./computer science territory. In order to readapt life in Hong Kong and he refigured his formula – his career. He’s a role model.

His wedding last year was his milestone, a beginning to a new life. He specially asked me to take down two dozens of photographs in positive film. I could not be happier to capture these moments in a (analogue) way no other would understand. Perhaps results did not come the way I wanted because of all the restrictions in church and their own hired photographers/videographers. These two keepers may not even be in perfect exposure, to me there’s enough room (hopefully him too) to reimagine the entire day as part of the memory. A bride whom I did not know and my friend looking down the aisle.

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These came from my backup camera for the day. I love the documentary part of my first unofficial attempt on a wedding shoot. And I also love the fact that, “do not expect me to give you results you’d expect from a traditional wedding photographer, but I’m going to show you something else”. 

Formosa

You ever wonder who’d be refusing to travel to a destination the second time where you know you’d be enjoying? It’s most probably because I’m in between old and new job, and it’s me wishes to cut down my expenses (clearly not working out with my shopping habit, even more so with the year-end discount). My sister eagerness had dragged me into the trip. I was not even in the mood for the trip planning. It’s a coincident in which my last minute picked motel was located a very convenient location to go anywhere we wanted. That had really set up great for a trip without a concrete to-go attractions.

Mountain Lane

I’d be lying I had not planned. I had the major attractions in mind but for the particular shops and restaurants, we had no clue until we decided let’s just explore an area on the map. ‘Life is like a box of chocolate, you’d never know what you gonna get.’ Forrest Gump said in the movie. And it’s making perfect sense as I explore during the travel.

Tea House

I had been a tea lover since early last year. And to some extent, I’m particularly into the tea planted in Taiwan. It’s so exhilarating when I hear them introduce their teas for the season like a piece of art. The way they speak and the words they use had taught me a great deal what appreciation is all about. We all look up to that lifestyle.

Jiu Fen

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As the flight enters the ‘Formosa’ from high above, the green fields on the island patched up like the last season’s patchwork fashion. They have the luxury to respect their land in the old fashion way still. They can grow and supply in some way; in contrary Hong Kong can only grow steel and concrete to meet a very different kind of demand. You just want to enjoy something that’s made in Taiwan. What’s made in Hong Kong these days? Do we instinctually buy the imports? It’s always interesting to learn about the differences of the Chinese communities and what represents the place under different governance and system.

Water Kettles Boiling in motion

Life after …

What is life like to be carefree? For the most part, nothing has changed yet until my bank account runs dry in a few months. It’s just pointless to worry now while I should be enjoying my break. I have left my skeptic part of me behind. That is, if your reading glasses are fogged; why not just take it off until the moisture goes away?

Beach

I realized a few things I hadn’t while I still had my day job.
First, I could enjoy reading books.
Second, I’m so open to try out eateries (on my budget) out of the district.
Third, the city feels so right during the office hours.

Resting Cows

I have stacks of books, food magazines and some monthly art journals on the desk right next to me. It’s not that I do not have time, not that I’m lazy; It’s just that I do not have a proper reading space at home, with all the complicated reasons when living with parents. That proper reading space means everything when it comes to reading. It allows you to concentrate, relax and even indulge by the authors’ writing. I admit i’m only a light reader, but I understand the benefits when reading the right books, and the right topics can learn a few things or two. If the internet/social media is the fast food, then reading a printed publication would be a proper dining experience. Reading is also a great way to tame your patience. 1 hour of quality reading in a park is now what I do in the week days.

Bamboo

Speaking of food, I just want to use it on all the burnt calories over the weekend. It can be boring to eat at the same restaurants over and over again with the same cuisine especially Hong Kong has so many restaurants to choose from. The most difficult part is to walk through that entrance (or settle the bill). I have not cooked (except cereal) for nearly a month now.

Running Men

It does feel guilty to wander around the city during the office hours while everyone is at work. Streets, parks, restaurants, coffee shops are all quiet and mostly empty. I just love to take full advantage during those hours.

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High Island Reservoir

The Plover Cove Reservoir was my longest hike until I tried the High Island Reservoir – with a total of 22km. The most interesting part of this hike was the “internationally rare acidic hexagonal volcanic rock columns”. 3/4 of the hike belongs to National Geographic dream trail – the MacLehose Trail. Like many seasoned hikers have said, they’d do anything to avoid hiking on those routes. I could not agree more as I stepped onto those sections. It must have been widely advertised by the travel agencies since then, there were just a little too many mix of hikers/tourists. Scenery was also average throughout the way. No wonder most guides recommend taking a taxi to the dam where the rock columns are.

The Korean Hikers

I love the part where I completed it and returned to the same spot 8 hours ago. I dislike the part where half of the route was an open concrete road with traffic.

有緣人

Flute music played by a man in the wilderness? It sounded unimaginably crisp and I promise anyone could hear from far away distance. To me, it added meaning to where he was playing – at an abandoned village. The flourishing violet mountain flowers by a roofless house which it all covered by green moss, had all seemed come alive again. Do they call it a full circle?

Untitled

I met a hiker during the journey from Ma On Shan to Wong Tai Sin. By all means he did not look like a hiker just by visually scanning on his outfit and the gear he held. He looked more like a construction worker in his early 50s, with a wooden walking cane and a straw hat. He was singing the Cantonese tunes from the 70s. We greeted each other and he asked where I was heading. It’s not too much of a surprise to end on the same destination. He started telling me the route we were on was a major passage and he described how it was before. The further we walked, the more he explained the Taoism philosophy which he practices in. The idea of the nature correcting itself, how our body repairs, and all the coincidence happens around us are all due to the cause of Yin and Yang. He explained how he found several of his wooden canes. They were all picked up after typhoon or cut down by other men. And the canes he collected had checked out all the requirements – the protruding handle, length, weight, balance and the resemblance of human, buddha and other Chinese mystic creatures (such as dragon).

He then asked if I wished to try an off-the-grid route. I refused at first but as we approached that point, why not! It is one of those loose sand and gravel slope he led me to. I would not know there’s such route existed, as it’s behind a high retaining wall. He has even shared me a few tips when climbing down with a supporting rope.

It’s a compliment from him I supposed, he said he does not often bump into people like me, that’s willing to listen and treat stranger not quite a like stranger. On the other hand, he referred it as our fate.

Deep Thinker

Before we parted ways, he remarked on our society that’s so different from where he used to grow up from. Knowledge and ideas can be passed along to the rest of the family. How many of us know much about the medicinal use of Chinese herbs and common ingredients?  How many of us can address our relatives appropriately (in Chinese it’s more than just cousins, uncles, aunties…). All these names and knowledge, our grandmas and a few other uncles/aunties just know it all, right?

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I’m grateful my 2016 had been an add-on to the previous. Departing from the workspace which I’d stayed for 6 years was a decision that had built up over the course of 6 months. I noticed life can be different if I decided to steer the wheel. How bad can it be when I’ve got nothing to lose. I think it’s worse if I look back one day and say what if.

Abroad

Romancing on the sea waves

Ireland was the first European country I wanted to visit, huge part of it contributes to the natural scenery and the castle remains. I wanted to see the straight high cliff by the frigid ocean and the castles of many types here and there. They were ironically just part of the agenda while the main one was to attend a concert of an Irish singer. It all did not happen.

One of the most beautifully named places on the map of Hong Kong has to be the Cape d’Aguilar. If you do not mention about the location, people would have thought an European destination or even somewhere that produces wine. That’s just the opening words, the attractions there are just as beautiful. It’s located on the southeastern tip of the main island. If I say I’ve found almost everything I wanted to see from the Ireland by a 30-min bus ride, would it be a surprise?

There is our one of our five surviving pre-war lighthouses (since 1875) and there’s the stunning high cliffs by the frigid sea. The cliffs were so high it gave me goosebumps. The other part of the cape is a rocky gulf where huge white waves rush into, creating a scenery where anyone just want to snap happy. And the climbable Crab Cave by the sea was a bonus if you wished make yourself look like a conqueror.

Stairway

The Cape d’Aguilar reminds me of a theme park or an outdoor version of museum. It’s an adventure if you begin the journey from Shek O where it required some climbing/hiking. It’s also known for the grey area for trespassing when reaching the d’Aguilar Peak.  It’s educational as a historic and geographic tour.

It’d be a surprise if you do not wait for the sunset. Well, make sure you have enough time to walk back to the bus stop. There’s hardly any lamp post on the way back.

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My meaning of home has grown stronger and stronger in this past year or so. You have to love and respect of your home and its people. The complaining and comparing just won’t help, especially when annoying the others.

Under the tower

On a recent wedding invitation of an ex-colleague friend in Hong Kong, who we used to worked in the same office during my last few years in the States. We haven’t really contacted for many years. But he knows I love analogue photography and thought I’d be the perfect person to take down some wedding photos on film. I was given one of his 120 cameras to shoot with during the ceremony. That was my first time ever to play with one. 10 frames per roll is totally my thing!

I met my this friend’s sister at the banquet and had a super brief conversation after introducing myself. She realised many of us (HongKongese who had studied abroad) cannot secure well-paid jobs or advance in their field, results into depression. I told her because they’re still mixed up with thoughts of whom they want to be. The advantages the others think we have are not standing out from many many many other graduates from abroad, and that’s staggering year by year adding to those who’d studied international schools, the returning American/Canadian-born Cantonese, and even the expats. I’m unfortunately one of these live cases she’s mentioning (I’m sure she did not mean it). The only difference is I’m satisfied with life just like that at the moment. You just have to accept in order to move on.

Leafless plant

It’s fair to say, studying abroad really means a temporary escape from our existing local system and to possibly delay the anticipated career decision.