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.

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.

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.

$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.

Finish Line

Red Maple

2 bottles of 750ml water, a banana and a few of my favorite Taiwanese cookies. That’s what I had during my longest hike 19.7km (7 hrs).

Every other week, I opened up the web and check out this Plover Cove Reservoir route. The reservoir is the largest in surface area in Hong Kong. How large exactly is it? On a relatively clear day, you can hardly see the other end. It was originally part of the sea until in the 60s where the former Head of Water Department visited there on a boat trip and decided this can be the perfect place for a reservoir ( fresh clean water was scarce during those years).

My previous longest hike was 17km (over 6 hours). I knew all I needed was to get up early and everything would go as planned. This day I got up at 6:45am. After breakfast, an hour and a half plus some wait at the bus stop, I arrived at the starting point – Wu Kau Tang.

Plover Cove

There were warning signs saying the route is extremely challenging, steep and unsheltered. Do not walk this trail in hot/unstable weather to avoid heat stroke, lightning and severe cold. Without sufficient equipment, food and water or physically unfit should not attempt.

I was told that the terrain is mainly loose gravel. It’s very slippery even on a dry clear day. I slipped but managed not to fall without a hiking stick (never used them) on my entire trip. Throughout it was a test of my endurance.

The infinite pool

The whole time I was thinking what’s on the other side of this reservoir, where these little islands connected and the longest dam going back to the main island. The dam was so long (2km) that took me 40 mins to walk from one end to another. They were all new to me. All the tiredness were gone when I completed the route.

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Hiking has gotten so popular these days. It has everything to do with the social media and how the city living is changing. Karaoke is no longer a place to hangout, not everyone has the luxury to travel, eating out and sitting at a cafe can be static and boring. So now casual people can go on those family trails, seasoned hikers can go on those off-road trails, or someone like myself who yearn for challenges (while still able) can go for the extreme. My journey so far has been my spiritual communication as much as my written journal of my trips every other week. Maybe the life struggle we see isn’t all that bad. Don’t treat it like a race, whatever comes next, just let it happen. You fall, you get up; you lost, you double back; you tired, you refuel; when you reach the finish line, remember to rejoice!

Finish line