The First Contact

Photography

I’ve always fond of animals. Besides the wildlife documentaries often shown on our TV, zoo has always been the go-to place to get to see them. There’s not a dedicated zoo in Hong Kong if we exclude our theme park (Ocean Park – more of an aquarium) and the super outdated Botanical Garden with a mini zoo. It’s nothing like the St. Louis Zoo (USA) and ChimeLong Safari Park (China) I’ve been to.

While a zoo can never be as entertaining as the one in the Jurassic Park movie, it still has its place. It’s a ‘no-brainer’ activity. If you’re really bored, you can stare at a bird or taunt a monkey for as long as you want. All that happen in a perfectly safe setting. Have you ever imagine where there’s nothing between you and them?

Military Facility
Popsticle

when I first started hiking beginning of this year, there were two girls looking into the woods across by the simple barrier. As soon as they left, I wanted to see what they saw. That’s when I came across a live wild bore the first time. It was just 10 meters away. They normally won’t attack human unless their lives are being threatened. I’ve never heard any got injured when they see one. Most of the news were them getting lost in the city.

One of the most common wild animals are cows. It was a unsettling feeling when I came across a group of them. They were huge, I was alone still on a mountain late at dusk and completely blocked my way through. When I think of cows, I think of the Spanish bullfighting. The fact was, those cows near me had got horns. It turned out they were calmer than the tamed dogs in my neighborhood.

Butterflies
Quality Time

Another wild animal that is also common are monkeys. I learned from TV that they steal hikers’ food and beverages when not properly kept. They do hold a very steady population, so our ‘Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department’ had done sterilization on some of them. Again, I got influences from movies and programs; made me think of ebola, rabies and all kind of hard to cure virus/diseases. I came across a huge gang of them recently. At first, one of them was just there chilling with a popsicle and another pair enjoying quality time by the water. All these happened before it rained. I was making my way back and I came across them again. This time they were moving in groups by the side of a steep ramp. One of the smaller ones got slid and fell down from that ramp. That’s when their leaders unhappy about my proximity. The angry growl was a clear signal i got to move away. I eventually got pounced on the leg by their leader.

Mirror
Moving in groups

There’s no negotiation between you and the wild animals. They do not care who you are, what you have. No wonder we often refer them as the beasts.

A New Door

Photography

We’re at the end of 2015 and had been quite a year for me to remember. Just by starting off with 2 casual exhibits on display in public (means a lot to any photographer), working together with some amazing people for a local culture documentary book and their lifestyle news web, joined a launch party and photographed for an event, invited to photograph for a really wicked company marketing campaign, was given allowance from Germany for a photobook testing, got invited to be a contributor for the local Tumblr creative artist blog, first time traveling in Asia (Taipei), cooking in public with a chef coat next to an executive chef in a food & beverage exhibition, and how about meeting back some lost friends.

I really got a taste of being a hired photographer. The staged street portraits for the lifestyle web (The Loop) have been a cool way to experiment with the location, natural lighting, viewpoint, mood for the interviewed essay. From exchanging our contact and sometimes being able to join the interview allow me to know the person better, seeing what others have been doing in Hong Kong. I often explained to people that I’m not a commercial photographer. I do not even know if it’s really called freelance. It’s hard to put a description of what photographer I’m when I consider my work less of a street photographer now. I think what matters more is what I could put out for people to see.

I have totally learned an interview is carried out, how to produce my own photobook, how to fill in my pieces for a bigger collaborative work. I’m grateful I could meet some new people out of my tiny regular circle.

All that I mentioned was never about money. It was more of a fulfillment to my life and passion.

New Door
The Water
Everyday the city I see
Visibility
Gusty Wind
The friendly Mr. Au and teammate

The last 3 photos were taken after our last interview I joined at Cheung Chau. It was a rainy day. And Photographer Mr. Au was showing his generosity as well as Cheung Chau native hospitality to take us for a hike. It was memorable due to the gusty wind (as if a typhoon) and rain water. The force of nature was unimaginable, with the continuous sound produced as the gust hit the trees and seawater. Totally out of the equation..

Fading Away Faces

Photography

‘百花齊放’ (meaning all flowers are in bloom) was used to describe the hyper-sonic economic growth during the 70-90s. All the previous generations had implied that: Despite all types of works, if you were willing and able to work then you can live and have a family.

Walking along the main passage Connaught Road West which stretches along the entire West District is like walking through a time tunnel.

Our iconic double decker tramway system is part of the ‘still-functioning’ heritage on the Island. Its longest route runs from the West end of Victoria Harbor to the East end of it, in Shau Kei Wan. I would dare not to travel from one end to another unless I’m in some kind of crisis. I could imagine how long it takes with that many stations and stop lights, unless it’s for a rented tram party at night. Some of the most popular historic images found in the museums archives had actually taken place on the West end. There’s the famous Dried Seafood Street as a back drop from Sheung Wan (the beginning section from the commercial-heavy east end), then to the older residential community in Sai Ying Pun (the mid section where luxury apartments are now in place), and lastly the Kennedy Town had undergone the most changes. It used to be a spot where all the ‘dirty’ facilities were located, such as slaughtering facilities, incinerator and hospitals with plague. Now, it has become the new SOHO, the hippiest spot on the island. Lots of ‘sea view-ready’ apartments, fusion restaurants of all type and of course the chic cafes and pubs. I’d imagine the older residents would feel totally shocked seeing all the drastic changes.

‘Wiped’ is a bittersweet phase to use for the older community, some are still well tucked in on the quieter quarters. Some dying businesses and handmade crafts (or some people prefer calling them as art now) are still struggling to survive in this modern city. These skillful masters are either too old, no one to pass along (nobody wishes to do it for living), China can manufacture it more efficiently with comparable price, or simply the business can’t cover the operating expenses. The aging community is undeniably fading away and get replaced by the executive-level and well-off residents. Some say that, it has brought new energy to the area. It’s really up to how you want to put it.

All the increasing rents were driven up by the arrival of subway extension project. The property developers had been eyeing on all the old blocks ever since the project was given the green light. The subway has in fact brought convenience to the district and its people. I have heard plentiful of welcoming voices from the residents, however it’s another story to the business owners.

The Fishing Warrior
K-Town
Mom
Beauty Queen
Caution
Scaffolding Bamboo
Tree Pruning or what
Goodbye Trees
Painting the fading face

True story: Two colleagues of mine were forced to move out of the West District years ago due to the hefty rent raised by landlords. They moved across the harbor, across the mountains; making it at least an hour and a half to commune to work (not uncommon for northern district residents). Most of us would consider 30 minutes as the ideal sweet spot to commune. Some enjoy the trade offs, for fresher air and quieter living environment; some don’t. But then what are the choices.