Grazie

Photography

Chefs

When I wonder what exactly i’ve benefited from my day job in the past few years, I cannot think of a proper answer to that. I got switched to different roles in the company. Throughout, maybe 1% of it was what I considered interesting, the rest are just duties. The first year was most educational, I’d learned all the basics which made me knowledge-wise above an average person. It’s by the way a useful asset. Then in the later years, I was assigned to more operation, marketing tasks. The food/wine trade shows and food travel programs on TV/internet were the update patches when I get no opportunity to travel. The bottom line is I still love food.

It was originally more of a practice session for a side project I help on video shooting. I was able to tag along, to a fine-dining media tasting at a 5-star hotel. I was informed an Italian guest chef (who appeared in Hell’s Kitchen Italia and MasterChef Italia) would be in town for just 3 days. But nobody ever told me we get to eat the full course with wines selected by their in-house sommelier, in an exclusive private room with an open kitchen. Together with the hotel restaurant’s head chef; not only i got the front row seat, some of us went near the chef and get explained what they were doing. There were about 10 other media representatives at the table which they’re total strangers to me. We were treated just like the VIP guests.

They prepare food in style, present it like a show, plate it like an art.

Beef Tartare with Sliced White Truffle

I woke up on the next day still could not believe I had such dining experience. It was just that surreal. I’d been promoting/selling truffled mushroom sauce in my day job for years, but so unfortunate that I’d not seen or eat any fresh truffle. Seeing the real thing is nothing like how I’d normally found on the internet or TV. On the good side, part of what i’ve learned from my job makes me easily to appreciate the Italian food and wine.

These kind of tastings (which i believe may vary in scale) are needed every so often in order to get the wheel spinning for the local dining scene.

//

My computer went out of service for over a month until I get a replacement. With all the inconveniences, it was hard to believe I could survive that long without it.

There goes the bad, here comes the good. My work got selected to show on the Slideluck Hong Kong event along with 19 other ‘artists’ (that’s how they put it). It’s my first proper public showcase of my photo series. I cannot be happier to have my alias listed on their event banner!

Behind the Greater Good

Mobile Phone, Photography

Taste it

The Individual Visit Scheme (multiple-entry individual visit scheme) was launched to boost the Hong Kong economy after the devastating SARS. It was a crisis and an aftermath and the scheme was not all that annoying until last few years’ parallel trade activities near our border districts. Lots of shops closed down and replaced by pharmacies that sells daily necessities. Train stations filled with these traders packing and lining up to the platform. Clearly, it’s a supply and demand business equilibrium until it affected the districts’ residents. That had caused our local shortage in baby powder, the government had even placed a restriction to no more than carrying 2 cans out of the border after this incident when critically complained by the public.

The swamp of Mainland tourists on Canton Road (The Fifth Avenue of HK) while it’s not as sickening as it’s away from residential districts. It’s mostly avoidable. Franchises such as the luxury fashion brands, electronic retailers and pharmacies have took over most ground level shops in many hotspots in town. Maybe it’s good for the retail and perhaps the overall economy; but as a general citizen who just wish to wonder in town, it gave up our choices, possibilities and rights.

I agreed for the greater good, some of us may need to sacrifice; only when we all know where to draw that line. Our conscious community have been reacting to it by holding rallies, touring through various districts. It’d gotten worse in 2013-2014. I was at first annoyed by it very much. Until recently I realized all that had to be done by these concern groups and political parties, in order to alarm our slow reacting government or the situation would continue to get worse. You may argue there has to be another way. I believe nobody wanted the ‘angry’ way, it’s clear that it’d brought noise and concern to the authorities a lot quicker. It had then stirred up debate in the city.

Last year the authority had finally revised the scheme to become “single visit per week”. It was to respond the public concern and officials finally recognized it as an issue.

A world we see

The bigger picture we now look at is, for the past 12 years we had no have any new major tourist spots being developed. We had relied so much on the mainland tourists for quick turnovers and ignored the quality world tourists we should also cater. Many mainlanders only visit Hong Kong for consumer goods, there aren’t much for them to see here. “There’s a huge distinction between consumer and tourist.” (Reference: A short documentary in Cantonese)

The city’s development had inevitably wiped out many architectural heritage we once had. It’s important to not only conserve and restore the remains in full scale, we need to embrace it as our history. There’s history in Hong Kong, we cannot put all these behind and shove them in the museums. Not only they can be a visual landmarks, it’s a respect to our land and facilitates our sense of belonging. Unfortunately, the respect to our land is only tied to money – government revenues as land auction to the property developers.

Maybe the still yet-to-be-developed West Kowloon Cultural District is the major (long-term) tourist attraction in the city. I do very much look forward to it after visiting the equivalent project in Taipei, but for now we could just wait and wait some more. We’re at least 10 years behind from the original timeline and the second phase is even pushing longer until 2026-2030. I hate to see it become just another random public parks or shopping malls.

Struggled in the Stream

Mobile Phone, Photography

In the Stream

“I stepped out of a mini-bus with my tiring legs and body, dragging myself to the nearest 7-eleven. I wanted any chilled beverage so bad. I gobbled up half of a bottle in just 2 seconds. That moment on I realized I was dehydrated. I looked at my arms each with no less than 12 minor scratches. I was lucky this time.”

//

From my 9 months of experience, I had climbed peaks or sorts, I have seen the prettiest coastlines with waves hitting through it, nothing but the sea and sky. I’ve been to the widest beach on the hottest day of the summer. I was at the marine conversation zones where the water was so sparkling clear. I’ve seen the longest waterfalls here. I’ve experienced the non-stop wind in under 5 meters of visibility. They’re all some fond memories just by myself.

This hike I’d done recently to Lantau Peak could be the wildest wilderness experience I’ve ever had. It was the longest climb 450 meters in height and most spots required the use of hands. You may think it’s only physical enduring, it required plenty of environmental assessment on each move and the follow up steps, such as the best gripping point without loose rocks and slippery algae. It was much like connecting the dots wherever I tried to move. It later became my second nature where my legs could step on where I’ve just grabbed. There must have been lots of these repetitions. To sum it up, it was just a long slope full of grass and trees.

I did not expect this 2 hour climb would be that challenging. It’s very well be an advanced level climb. Even at some point, I thought only the lone wolf fictional character Ethan Hunt (Missions Impossible) would dare doing this.

I looked down and asked myself, “How was I able to climb this rock when there’s nothing to fall on?”

It was all well until I picked the wrong way down. Not only I could not find a way to the peak, I found myself actually moving deeper and deeper down a rocky stream. And that was my first time knowing how dangerous it can get as I was racing against time (before dark). I was desperately rushing down the stream, and it was not as easy to find the safe path with those vaguely placed ribbon as guidance. The environment was totally uncontrollable, I cannot run, I cannot recklessly jump down. There was the running water, slippery rocks, densely grown thorns I had to avoid. These 3 hours I spent in the downward stream was something I’d not try again alone.

As I tried to sleep on that night, the moving images kept waking me as I shut my eyes. Oddly, the morning after I’d decided I should return to where I’d got lost on a similar clear dry day. I need to go back and next time with better prep. I’m amazed by this difficultly rated route that actually challenged me.