Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Sigma DT 75-300mm 4.5-5.6 zoom

Morning Papers

Newspaper Man, Star Ferry Pier, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Here is another image of my visit to Hong Kong in 2009.  As is usual during any visit to a new area I tend to wake early and go for a walk with my camera.  After a night of high winds and pouring rain the morning dawned fine and the area sparked in its newly washed state.  The Star Ferry Pier was any easy walk from our hotel.  People poured onto and off the ferries as they plied the  routes across the harbour.  At the entrance to the terminal building newspaper vendors set out the morning editions of English and Chinese language newspapers ready to catch the passing trade.  As this man and his papers were in a patch of morning sun he caught my attention.  It is one of my favourite Hong Kong images because for me it captured a bit of Hong Kong life at my favourite time of the day.


Hong Kong – Selected Views and Thoughts

Over the years Hong Kong has been the territory (now part of China) that I have visited most in all my world travel. My first visit was in 1985 with my wife and three young sons (4,6 and 8 years) at the end of a round the world trip.  For my wife it was a second visit as she had been there twenty years earlier as a student. The total number of visits now stands a six, the most recent in 2008. As one can imagine, Hong Kong has changed immensely since 1965. One of the things that fascinates me every time I visit Hong Kong and its “fragrant harbour” is that there is always something new being built and yet another part of the harbour edge reclaimed from the sea.

Hong Kong Street 2, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Nathan Road, Kowloon

Our visit to Hong Kong in 2008 was during the annual typhoon season.  It rained almost for the whole three day visit, heavily at times. The above view of Nathan Road was taken from the upper deck of the bus from the airport. As we alighted from the bus the skies opened, leaving our party of five with all our luggage stranded on the pavement and somewhat bewildered.  Finally in the pouring rain we bundled ourselves into a taxi and were driven to our hotel.

Central at Night from Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

One of the key attractions in the evening is to watch the nightly sound and light show on the buildings of the Wan Chai and Central districts on Hong Kong Island from in front of the Culture Centre at Kowloon. At the same time as the music and lights started, so did the rain.  It came quickly and sent locals and tourists alike scurrying for whatever shelter they could find.  This image was captured just as the rain began. Our hotel, the Salisbury (YWCA), overlooked the Culture Centre towards the island and we were able to see the end of the display through sheets of rain powered in by the rising high winds.

Ferry leaving Star Ferry Pier at Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

A favourite part of any Hong Kong visit for me is to cross the harbour on a Star ferry.  These old-style ferries have been running for decades and are an iconic part of the HK landscape.  A ride on a Star ferry provides views of both sides of the harbour and the volume of shipping that makes this one of the busiest entrepôts in the world. The ride starts at the Star Ferry Pier in Kowloon and ends at Central Pier on Hong Kong Island.

Star Ferry Pier and Hong Kong Culture Centre, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Kowloon Star Ferry Pier and Hong Kong Culture Centre

Morning Star crossing from Central, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

"Virgo" and Star Ferry, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

"Northern Star" Star Ferry, Central, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Night Star leaving Star Ferry Pier, Central, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Night Star leaving Star Ferry Pier, Central

Central is the banking and commercial district of Hong Kong and is just as bustling as the as the more retail oriented Kowloon.  Some of HK’s tallest buildings are in Central, which sits at the harbour edge below Victoria Peak.

Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Gloucester Road, Wan Chai

Wan Chai is one of the older areas of Hong Kong Island and was made famous to many English and American moviegoers of the 1960s  by the film “The World of Susie Wong”.  Its a fascinating area to wander around as many of the older buildings nestled among the newer skyscrapers show distinct signs of decay.

Hong Kong Fine Arts School, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Abutting Wan Chai is the Admiralty District which is home to the Bank of China Tower (abbreviated BOC Tower).  It houses the headquarters for the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited. Designed by I. M. Pei, the building is (including the two masts) 367.4 m (1,205.4 ft) high. It was the tallest building in Hong Kong and Asia from 1989 to 1992, and it was the first building outside the United States to break the 305 m (1,000 ft) mark. It is now the fourth tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong, after International Commerce Centre, Two International Finance Centre and Central Plaza (Wikipedia).

Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Bank of China Tower

Two International Finance Centre, Central, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Two International Finance Centre, Central

One of the best vantage points from which to appreciate Hong Kong is Victoria Peak (552 m).  The public viewing area at the Peak Lookout and Galleria presents views over exclusive housing and towers of Central, Wan Chai, Admiralty and across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon and surrounding districts.

View from The Peak, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

View of Hong Kong from the Peak Lookout

It was great to revisit Hong Kong in 2008, even if it rained for most of the time.  This is one of my favourite Asian (even world) cities. It is a dynamic place, ever changing but still quintessentially Asian.  It is modern, and old. Its a splendid mixture of international commerce and finance, and ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. Its a place of hustle and bustle, and hidden pockets where you can find peace and tranquility. Its a place of exclusive designer everything, and fake knock-offs of everything. I couldn’t live there for any great period of time, but love to revisit it as often as allows.

Haenyo – Diving Ladies, Jejudo, South Korea

Our visit to South Korea in 2008 took us to Jejudo, the largest island off the south coast and legendary spot for honeymoon couples. Many modern honeymooners now choose to go to Hawaii instead.

Jejudo is also the home of the Haenyo, the diving ladies who dive for seafood along the southern coast of the island. We encountered them at Seongsan ilchulbong in a UNESCO World Heritage Park.  Although the women, mostly middle-aged to senior citizens, put on “performances” from 1.00 – 2.00 pm each day, they are clearly very proficient at what they do.

Haenyo - Diving Ladies, Jejudo, South Korea

Dressed in their black neoprene dive suits, fins and masks, they swim with white polystyrene floats that hold their catch bags, and dive amongst the rocks offshore for seafood.  Here a diving lady shows a small octopus that is clinging to her arm after she reached into her dive bag.

When the women dive they hold their breath for about 2 minutes as they dive over 10m below sea level. Most have been diving since the age of 12 to 14 years old. There are about 5600 woman divers on Jejudo, and the numbers reduce each year as the elder members retire.

It is a pity that the women have become little more that a tourist attraction and less of a part of the cultural life of an ancient island way of life.