Abroad

Photography

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.

Finish Line

Mobile Phone, Photography

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

Golden Grass

Photography

Golden Grass

Everything seems nicer when the weather is good. Last time on the Lantau Peak, I met a trail runner from South Africa. A very nice gentleman whom we had a brief chat. He’s actually a performer (singer/dancer) for the Disneyland HK. I always wondered what brings these expats to our city when our world is this huge. He did not pick the destination, it’s the job he auditioned that picked him. And what’s even better, his family and relatives are working here in town before he arrives here. As a hongkongese, I’m so glad to hear from a foreigner enjoying life in my home city.

The Trail Runner

That day would be a very memorable one for many years to come. The effort and courage behind the hike, the perfect dry clear day which allowed me to see the spectacular view of Lantau, the waving golden grass which covered along my way down the mountain, they all became part of my stories of 2016.

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What’s next, where’s next? Is our city moving forward by measuring anything but the GDP, revenue of the key financial institutions, number of tourists visited, sales number in the retail sector? These are just formulated numbers that have so little correlation to an average citizen in the city. The numbers only tell a small part of the story. The life quality of a person or even a population cannot be calculated or refer as a series of numbers. I hate hearing the numbers and reports that are in flying colors but the actual well-being of the normal population is unlike what it suggests. Many are still worried about their income, lack of personal space (housing) and a list of things that derive from it.

Believe or not, the grassroots level has been contributing so much without us knowing of, or there’ll be no ‘Sifu’ sustaining our lost arts, nobody would be making our world famous dim sum and stir fry, plus my favorite frothy milk tea. They’re the keepers of the city, the ones that keep our engines running. They’re the solid foundation of the Hong Kong brand image, not those once a year sport events and parades.

Our newly built Kai Tak Cruise Terminal was once again surfaced to the news report due to its under-usage. Many of us knew the location picked by the authorities was a terrible decision (the old airport runway). Just to be fair if I were to choose, I’d likely be picking the same site. It’s also probably the cheapest and easiest way without reclaiming any land along the Victoria Harbor. What it’d inherited from this spot is that, it requires buses, taxis to transport tourists to where they really want to go (ex. Lan Kwai Fung, SoHo, The Peak etc..). The proximity issue is more lean toward us, the actual users for the site when idled (no cruise ships embarked). They can revamp the interior terminal into something more public-friendly. There’s huge demand for more city green, open area, vehicle-free urban space. The East & West Kowloon Cultural District Project is the go-to answer, I have so much faith in this and wish this can bring Hong Kong to a whole new era, the door to the next best thing