Date: 3 September 2011
Location: Mong Kok, Hong Kong
I took this photo on the first night we arrived in Hong Kong from the window of our teeny weeny room in Ah Shan Hostel in Mong Kok. After prying open the window, I stuck my chunky DSLR out of the window after ensuring that I had looped, twice, the camera strap around my wrist to capture this scene.
What greeted us when we entered our room was a scene that, for me, is typical Hong Kong: Tiny compact apartments. White fluorescent light. Skyscrapers looming in the background. Bamboo scaffolding. Clothes hanging out to dry. Protruding air-conditioning units. Love it!
Hong Kong has always been one of my favourite cities. It has a bit of almost everything that I like, save for the air pollution.
From its intoxicating, intense and infectious energy; its informal and outright Chinese-ness in a dense urban landscape; the no-frills cha chaan tengs (tea eateries) that serve cheap, albeit MSG-laden, comfort food; endless hiking trails in the outskirts; tranquil outlying islands like Cheung Chau; dim sum restaurants where you have to mark your orders on a slip of paper and wait for the char siew pau / siew mai / har gow / cheong fan to arrive as you sip on wulong tea; open-air markets stretching across several streets; street-side stalls selling kali yu daan (curried fishballs), innards, even smelly tofu; tiny side streets that wind in and out of the chaotic main roads; passing colourful buildings and bright lights, including neon lights, on the tram; the wonderful MTR with its tap-and-go Octopus card which was ahead of Singapore’s MRT; the summer heat and humidity that evokes images of an old man sitting by a fan in his white cotton singlet; elderly men playing chess in the park while others practise taiji nearby…
The first time I was in Hong Kong, I was 15 and was there with my school choir. The previous, and fifth, time I was back, AB joined me and it was such fun to show him around! I really should brush up on my Chinese (written) and Cantonese though.
Rather unexpectedly, I’ll be back in Hong Kong again – 21 days from now – following a work trip to Taipei and Shanghai!