Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More of Cheung Chau

I have introduced Cheung Chau -- one of Hong Kong's outlying islands -- before here, so I will skip the formalities and simply share a few photos from a recent weekend outing that complement the set in the earlier post.

Looking out towards the sea

An alley with many shops

Flowers and greenery

Bike training

Basketball at the Pak Tai Temple Playground

Cheung Chau's harbor

Monday, September 23, 2013

An Original Claim About Smog in Hong Kong

I previously shared an example of an advertisement in Beijing which included a smog filled scene. In Hong Kong, another city where air pollution is problem, as I walked by a store selling cosmetics made by Origins, a US brand, I saw smog being used in a more explicit manner to promote a product:

Displays at an Origins store in Hong Kong stating "Turn city smog into pretty skin"

The Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 Skin complexion corrector featured in the display is available elsewhere, including the US. On its US website Origins claims that "Our super-smart antioxidant infused formula helps neutralize skin damaging effects of city smog and pollution." Of note, the site does not include the image of smog apparently transforming into flowers and the statement "Turn city smog into pretty skin" that can be found on the Hong Kong website and in the above scene (also seen in material for Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan):

As I walked away from the store what I most thought about was not the claim that smog could be turned into pretty skin but instead the implications that the display was a sign of how much pollution has become a part of everyday life in Hong Kong.

And it may also be a sign of how some people are trying to approach pollution pragmatically. Sometimes you just have to make the best out of a situation. As they say, "when life gives you smog, make smog flowers".

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hiking the Dragon's Back in Hong Kong

Two recent posts included urban scenes from Hong Kong's Mong Kok and Tsuen Wan districts. For a change of pace, one day I decided to seek out somewhere greener. In Hong Kong that is very easy to do, even on Hong Kong Island. In this case I decide to go to Shek O County Park and hike the Dragon's Back trail. As mentioned by the Hong Kong Tourism Board:
Hong Kong is remarkable because you can step from busy urban areas into peaceful countryside in less than an hour. That's particularly true for the Dragon's Back trail which Time Magazine declared as the Best Urban Hike in Asia (22 Nov 2004 Asia Issue). The trail is "the city's finest and most surprising ramble", the Time article says. "The glory of it all is that you're so close to the city, but could hardly feel farther away."
It is indeed amazing how quickly one can go from one of the densest urban regions in the world to lush green mountains where at points I walked for over an hour without passing anyone else (more easily done during a weekday). Below are a few photos from the Dragon's Back portion of my hike. Looking at them now, it's hard to believe an urban jungle is so nearby.

Dragon's Back trail in Hong Kong

Dragon's Back trail in Hong Kong

Dragon's Back trail in Hong Kong

view of mountains and the sea from Dragon's Back trail in Hong Kong

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Day of Mooncakes

Happy Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.

Last night at Macau's Largo do Senado

If you have any mooncakes, enjoy them. I have tasted many flavors but it seems there are always new varieties to try, including Godiva's.

Now I'll head outside to see if the full moon is visible and if I can get some more mooncakes.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Elevated Walkways of Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

At the northern end of the Hong Kong metro's Tsuen Wan Line and about half an hour from Hong Kong Island is, maybe not so surprisingly, Tsuen Wan. During the past 100 years Tsuen Wan has gone from a small village to an industrial area to a dense residential & commercial area.

The Sam Tung Uk Museum there provides an opportunity to learn about Tsuen Wan's history while visiting a restored 200-year-old walled village. No museum is required to see Tsuen Wan's modern side, and it can easily be explored by foot. This is made particularly easy by elevated walkways, many of which radiate out from the Tsuen Wan metro station and connect a number of buildings, including a variety of shopping centers.

To provide a glimpse of Tsuen Wan, I will share a few photos I took while on the elevated walkways. Not only do the photos provide a sense of the walkways' extensive reach and heavy use, but they also show some of the activity that can found on Tsuen Wan's streets.

people crossing a road in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

A Wellcome delivery truck passing under an elevated walkway in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

people walking on an elevated walkway in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

elevated walkway crossing over a road in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

minibuses in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

road between the Citywalk shopping centers in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

heavy foot traffic on an elevated walkway in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

people crossing an intersection with a 7-Eleven in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

people at a pedestrian street shopping area in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

people eating outside on a pedestrian street in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

Monday, September 16, 2013

Flying Over and Through Urban Hong Kong

As I looked up at some buildings in Hong Kong the other day, by chance I noticed an airplane which presumably had departed from Hong Kong International Airport located far outside of the city center.

view between two buildings of a plane flying above

It brought to mind the more dramatic views of airplanes in city scenes that were a regular occurrence in Hong Kong when its Kai Tak Airport was open in central Kowloon. Kai Tak is now a cruise ship terminal but mention of the airport can still stir the memories of Hong Kong natives and visitors. For more about the airport, Hong Wrong compiled a "visual history" of Kai Tak, Unforbidding City detailed the challenging approach facing pilots landing at Kai Tak, and CNN interviewed Hong Kong resident and aviation photographer Daryl Chapman and shared several of his photographs of planes in Hong Kong.

And finally, a recent tweet reminded me of a video that shows some of what made Kai Tak special accompanied by music from the fictional 1964 British Second World War film 633 Squadron:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pondering in Hong Kong

In Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong

That's all for this week. I expect to be posting more frequently next week with topics ranging from online services in Hong Kong to the air in Beijing.

There is plenty to ponder.

PBR in an SAR of the PRC

If you are in Hong Kong and like Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, you're in luck.

man unloading beer from a Pabst Blue Ribbon truck in Hong Kong
On Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong

More about PBR in China when I'm in the mood for a war story (really).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mongkok Scenes from Mong Kok

Mong Kok is a densely packed district in Hong Kong. Its name can also be found written in Latin script as "Mongkok". Even government websites can be conflicted about the format of the name, sometimes using both forms within a single address. The Hong Kong metro and the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post both regularly use "Mong Kok", so I will go with that.

Whatever the spelling, the area holds much to discover and a single block can contain a dizzying array of culture. The Hong Kong Tourism Board provides this description:
Mong Kok is Hong Kong’s most congested shopping and residential district, but don’t let that scare you away. The neon-bathed historic streets that wind through one of the densest parts of the world are worth visiting - just for the ‘peoplescapes’ alone. It just so happens that the shopping is excellent too.

The neighbourhood includes one of Hong Kong’s most popular markets, the Ladies' Market, and also has a ton of shopping streets, which are a common feature in southern China. Conveniently, these are where a cluster of merchants sell one type of product on a single street. Mong Kok has entire streets and street sections dedicated to the sale of goldfish, flowers, birds, sneakers, kitchenware and wedding dresses.
I have been there on numerous occasions and would list Mong Kok as a must-see place for visitors to Hong Kong or those seeking to ponder humanity. The strong impressions Mong Kok has left make me wonder if its single-word spelling would be well suited for a new adjective.

I had the opportunity to visit Mong Kok yet again just a few days ago. Below is a set of photographs in the order I encountered the various scenes. They represent just a sliver of life there and do not capture the streets when they are especially jam packed with people or provide a sense of how a large number of stores, offices, restaurants, guest houses, and residences can compactly fit inside a single building. But together they still give me a feeling that is so... mongkok.

Above-ground view of one of Mong Kok's streets

Above-ground view of one of Mong Kok's street markets

A section of Mong Kok's most extensive elevated walkway

On the elevated walkway

Parked minibuses

Fish for sale at the Fa Yuen Street Market

young woman wearing a shirt with the message "This is me This is who I am I've finally learned to LOVE myself. Wohooo"
A shirt with a message

No lack of advertising

Street-level advertising

An almost quiet alley

A relatively quiet moment at a busy intersection

Freshman participating in a flash mob song and dance for a university orientation activity

Posing for a professional photographer

Crossing Portland Street

Colorful buildings

A high-level view inside the architecturally intriguing Langham Place shopping mall


Another street

Fruit for sale

More fish for sale

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Scene from Mong Kok

For a short amount of time today, I was on this street in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district:

advertisements hanging over a sidewalk and street in Mongkok, Hong Kong

I am still sifting through many other photos from today, and a number of scenes from elsewhere in Mong Kok will appear soon.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Don't Eat Your Friends on the Hong Kong Subway

Eating food is not permitted on Hong Kong subway trains. In the past, passengers disregarding this rule has led to clashes between mainland Chinese and Hongkongers. So last year I was not surprised to see inside a Hong Kong subway station a sign with the English message:
Inside paid areas, enjoy the ride.
When outside, enjoy your food. Thank you!
However, I was a bit surprised by the accompanying graphics:

a hamburger holding hands with a large smiley face inside a subway station as the smiley face imagines later eating the hamburger friend outside of the station

Yes, a friendly hamburger is holding hands with a smiley face inside a subway station while the smiley face imagines later eating the hamburger outside of the station. Well, as long as you are following the rules ... And is this so different from the habits of praying mantises?

Hong Kong is not the only place an anthropomorphized hamburger has met a gruesome demise. For a similar but much more, dare I say, tasteless example, it would be hard to beat Mayor McCheese's* appearance on the adult animated sitcom Family Guy (warning: graphic violence) here.

Anyway, please do not eat food on the Hong Kong subway. And if you are a hamburger riding the subway, you should consider staying on it as long as you can, no matter what your friends may say.

That poor burger.

*If you are not familiar with Mayor McCheese, see the old McDonald's advertisements here and here. As a bonus, the second advertisement includes a large number of anthropomorphized hamburgers.

Added note: It just occurred to me that I ate a burger for dinner today. For what it is worth, it was a vegetarian burger, and it did not smile at me.