Sunday, February 19, 2017

To Hong Kong and Back Again

A photo summary of my most recent trip to Hong Kong.

This nice woman greeted me at the Cathay Pacific lounge at SFO

She seems nice.
She seems nice

This is the smoggy view from a superior-side harbour view room at the Excelsior Hotel.  

the other superior side harbour view
the other superior side harbour view

In previous stays, I've faced the east-ish direction looking at the bay towards the Central financial district.  This view is towards the west, facing the harbour at Causeway Bay (yes, they spell harbour with a "u" over there) and the construction of some sort of underwater super highway that will reduce somebody's commute by a lot of minutes.

On sunnier days, the view looks like this

some blue sky
some blue sky

The Excelsior Hotel at one point was fingered as a hotel that harboured Edward Snowden, until it was proven otherwise.    The Excelsior has done a little remodeling since I've been there last.  The carpet is new. The long desk (with its quaint stationary and postcards) has been replaced with a round glass-topped table that makes optical computer-mice totally worthless.  But the mini-bar, with it's lacquered wood tray and 6 ounce tea cups, remains the same.

the carpet is new, but they still got the laquered trays with the cute 6oz tea cups
the carpet is new, but they still got the lacquered trays with the cute 6oz tea cups

You can still get your $100 dollar bills changed for a pretty good price on Sugar Street.  They will also take 5 twenties, but you may get a slightly less favorable price.

on the way to the money changer
on the way to the money changer

Just walk towards that weird circular walkway on Hennessy, and then away from McDonald's and go down flight of stairs to get the good price.

spiral
spiral

Now, I don't know what you think of when you hear "Hong Kong," but I think of billboard advertising

time square
times square

butter cookies and Mark Wahlberg
butter cookies and Mark Wahlberg

and construction

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All construction photos may be seen here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/sets/72157678157705451.

I didn't recognize as many of the celebrity endorsements on billboards this time around.  I see that Natalie Portman is still Miss Dior (she hasn't been replaced by someone younger, yet). Yay! Dior forever!

I don't know any of the famous people selling watches, but Natalie Portman is still Miss Dior
I don't know any of the famous people selling watches, but Natalie Portman is still Miss Dior.

After a couple of days it occurred to me that I didn't recognize anyone selling watches.  I didn't see Andy Lau. Or Nicole Kidman

ladymatic. because girls wear watches too!
ladymatic. because girls wear watches too! (2015)

Or James Bond

Sasa Ladies and Mr. Bond
Sasa Ladies and Mr. Bond. (2008)

Instead I saw lots of people I didn't recognize.  Some of the billboards even flaunted how famous they were.

famous actor
FAMOUS ACTOR

Really? Famous actor? Never seen you before.  I should look up your films on Netflix. Or maybe IMDB. One day I decided to go out and shoot every watch billboard and watch shop I could find.  I probably only shot a third of those I found within a half mile of the Excelsior in Causeway Bay.

I don't know any of the famous people selling watches
I don't know any of the famous people selling watches

I don't know any of these people
I don't know any of these people

 swiss watches since 1912
Swiss watches since 1912

 piaget polos
Piaget Polos

 rabbit shop
 rabbit shop

 EMPEROR WATCH AND JEWELLERY
 EMPEROR WATCH AND JEWELLERY

 real watches for real people
 real watches for real people

heron constantin
Heron Constantin

After a while I finally found someone I recognize. As it turns out, Wolverine wears a watch.

wolverine wears a watch
wolverine wears a watch

Milla Jovovich is not wearing a watch
Milla Jovovich is not wearing a watch

All the watch photos may be found here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/sets/72157677823517352

I was asked which cameras I brought to Hong Kong.  I did take a handful of photos with the fancy phone, but the real cameras I brought were the color camera and the black and white camera with four lenses:  the cute-35, the old-40, the 60-non, and the 90-cron.  As turns out I only took the color camera out once with the 90-cron, and the black and white camera out twice with the cute-35, never using the 60-non or the old-40.  All the rest of the photos were made with my Panasonic point-and-shoot.

my other camera is a panasonic
my other camera is a Panasonic

Perhaps I should have just brought the Panasonic and left all the other cameras at home.

What's the other thing you think of when you think of Hong Kong?  Those red taxis!

 the obligatory soft focus taxi shot
the obligatory soft focus taxi shot

This taxi is just about to run me over.  I have my left foot on the the curb of the sidewalk and my right foot in the street.  I'm stepping onto the sidewalk out of the street with the cute Panasonic slung over my shoulder and resting on my right hip, as I shoot from the hip, at the taxi about to run me over.

taxi 4 seats
taxi 4 seats

On the first day back in Hong Kong, I looked for my old friend octopus and found he has changed yet again.  This is from his glorious neon days in 2012.

an old friend
an old friend

He still likes to eat noodles, from a bowl, with chopsticks.

I see you octopus
 I see you octopus

 He's just not neon anymore.

so long neon octopus
so long neon octopus

See the evolution of octopus over the years here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/albums/72157672958845895

I didn't get a chance to go to the races this visit, but I did walk around a bit near the Happy Valley Racetrack.  They've done some remodeling, and it looks good, the soccer fields in the infield look good.

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But they're still doing a bit of construction.

you are here:  1100 meters to go.
you are here:  1100 meters to go.

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keep off grass
 keep off grass

I imagine the Chinese letters describe what might happen to you, if you are caught wandering on to the turf track

entering turf track is strictly prohibitied
entering turf track is strictly prohibited

All the Happy Valley photos may be found here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/sets/72157680466223585

I met these characters near the Temporary Wan Chai Promenade (I guess it's temporary because the real Wan Chai Promenade has succumbed to the eternal construction on Hong Kong island).

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These two are playing some sort of extreme mahjong

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extreme mahjong 2

extreme mahjong 3

Turning the corner, this is the view towards the central financial district

fishing
fishing

I don't know if anyone eats anything caught in that water.

This is on the way to the Hong Kong office

wtc reflections
 wtc reflections

I've eaten chicken feet here once

Under Bridge Spicy Crab
Under Bridge Spicy Crab

 the Hong Kong office has a cappuccino machine
the Hong Kong office has a cappuccino machine

The usual watering hole after a late night at the office

not the longest day
 not the longest day

Walking back from the White Stag, a few of the buildings still have lunar New Years decorations on them.

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I encountered this character

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and this chicken

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on the way to the office the next day or two. They were with a lion dance troupe

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And I saw them again the next day near the fashion walk street in Causeway Bay, where all the cats hang out.

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When I was walking around the infield at Happy Valley, I could see up in the hills a cemetery, and so a couple of days afterward, I went there to try to shoot down on the track from an elevated angle.

This is the first cemetery I encountered in my clockwise journey around Happy Valley.

PARSEE CEMETERY 
1852
PARSEE CEMETERY 1852

The gate was locked.
the gate is locked
 the gate is locked

Oh, and yeah, I forgot to update the watermark text on my copy of Capture One on my laptop.

Walking a little further I found an entrance to one of the Cemeteries and this map

location map of Hong Kong cemetary
location map of Hong Kong cemetary

Now, if you try to do a little research (by binging "Hong Kong Cemetery") you'll learn that there's a bunch of Cemeteries in Happy Valley, and they are old, and some of them are featured on TV and in movies.  I like to imagine Andy Lau and Tony Leung and Vicki Zhao gun-fighting against gangsters among the tombstones.

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So, I tried to find my way up the hill to see Happy Valley from it.  Any time you start heading up hill in Hong Kong, it's a steep uphill.  I walked up huffing and puffing along a nice cement path with a handrail, and the path switched back, and I abruptly stopped.  To continue onward meant stepping over gravestones, and I got the heebee-jeebees, and went back down the hill.

On the way up and down these hills I discovered each hill has a slope registration number.

slope registration number: 11SW-D/C19
slope registration number: 11SW-D/C19

And that if you have a problem maintaining your slope, you should call the telephone number of the Architectural Services Department.

Continuing clockwise, I arrived at the Catholic Cemetery.  You can see this building from just outside the Happy Valley Racecourse entrance.  You will have to imagine how different it would look if I had shot it with my color camera and a 90-cron instead of my cute little Panasonic with it's 28mm field of view.

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This is not the way out.  The way out is over there

way out
way out

 I think she's an angel
I think she's an angel

 I met this horse several blocks away from the cemetery.

horse flowers
horse flowers

One thing I like to do while at Hong Kong is to take the Wan Chai ferry to the other side, and then take the Star Ferry back to Central, and then walk back to Causeway Bay.

These are birds.  I don't know if they are left over from the celebration of Lunar New Year's, or in celebration of St. Valentine's day, or in celebration of the Hong Kong Marathon or just because.  Birds!

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One of those fancy cruise ships!

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Central skyline from the Star Ferry
Central skyline from the Star Ferry

Central crosswalk
Central crosswalk

Bank of China
Bank of China

I met these people in the parking lot of a swanky Central district hotel

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I went to dinner in a gentrified portion of southern Wan Chai

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Now, the tradition is to take a photo of your plate of food before you eat the food. And early in the evening, I was sober enough to take the photo at the appropriate time.

fancy dinner course #1: apple and crab salad
fancy dinner course #1: apple and crab salad

apple and crab salad with spicy red stringy things, green sprouts, tomato, bitter bright-colored broccoli flowers and cucumber-wasabi foam.

But, after the first course, I only realized that I should have taken a photo of the plate of food before I ate the food.  At the time, the photos on the little TV screen on the back of my camera of my fork and dirty plate where HILARIOUS, but then next morning, sober again, and slightly hung-over, the photos were not that compelling.  Perhaps someday, someone will start the trend of taking photos of the food you have already eaten.

Oh! Hong Kong! Don'tcha ever change!

dragon centre!
dragon centre!

Okay, that's it for now. So long.

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The full Hong Kong February 2017 set can be found here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/sets/72157678358500240/

All the Hong Kong Photos may be found here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/sets/72157607527266389



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