72 Hours in Hong Kong

Four years. It had been four long years since I last left the country. I sort of went into why in my last post, but the short of it is that the travel bug had just inexplicably left me. It didn’t stay gone for too long though, fortunately, and I just got back from a 2 1/2 week trip to Hong Kong and Tokyo. Sort of a re-tracing of a portion of my 2012 trip, mostly to focus on some photography and just spend time hanging out in the two coolest cities I’ve ever been to.

On this trip I brought three cameras with me; two film and one digital. The film cameras I brought were essentially the same ones I brought on my last trip to these two cities. My Fuji GS645S medium format rangefinder with its built-in 60mm f/4 lens was used sparingly (mostly for nighttime tripod photography), and my Minolta XG-M (which I had actually purchased at a used camera market in Hong Kong back in 2012 after the shutter died on my X-570 in Bangkok) with its 50mm f/1.2, which I regrettably didn’t use at all this time in Hong Kong, but was my workhorse in Tokyo. My third camera, the digital, is a Ricoh GR I’ve found myself shooting with more and more, as it’s just so convenient since it fits right in my pants pocket and is with me pretty much wherever I go. Not to mention the fantastic results it produces. Dare I say they’re almost film-like.

I only had three days in Hong Kong, most of which were spent getting readjusted to the 12-hour time difference. Last time here I had 2 weeks, and I recommend checking out my post on that trip before reading this one. I did manage to find some time to get out with the 645 this time but most of my shots here were taken with the GR.

I arrived at HK airport around 4 o’clock AM. After making my way through customs I could have caught one of the earlybird buses into the city, but decided to wait the half hour or so for the first Airport Express train of the day.

The sun was just about to rise as the shuttle was getting into the city, so I decided to get off at the Kowloon stop and walk around as it offered some nice views of HK from the edge of the harbor.

After about an hour of hanging around here I hopped on the MTR and took the subway to the Lai King stop, then proceeded to walk the 4 or so miles from there to my guesthouse.

I always try to walk as much as possible when I travel. It’s of course quicker and easier to take public transportation everywhere, but then you miss all the cool stuff along the way.

One of the things I wanted to do here was take some more pictures of the crazy apartment buildings to add to my Modern Living series I started last time I was here.

The shots above were all taken on medium format film, while the shots below were taken on the GR.

Unfortunately I didn’t get as many pictures to add as I’d have liked, but considering I only had three days to shoot here I’m pretty happy with my results.

Over on HK Island I ran into something that I remember experiencing last time I was here, but to a much larger extent this time around. Something called Maid’s Day. From what I was able to gather in my online reasearch, Hong Kong has a large population of Filipina workers who come there to work as maids. They are overworked and underpaid, and are given only one day off a week (Sunday) and don’t have much money with which to do anything, so they all get together and essentially have a giant picnic. Of course there aren’t many places to picnic in a city as densely-populated as Hong Kong, so every Sunday they quite literally take over the streets of the busiest part of HK Island. The area around Central station practically shuts down while they all set up blankets and tents and camp out right downtown.

A bit further into HK Island there’s an outdoor escalator that brings you up a good portion of the mountain. I decided to head up there after making my way through the crowds of maids.

Once I reached the top I stuck to the mountainside roads as I slowly found my way back down.

Towards the end of my first day I started getting a major pain in my left foot. I mentioned I like to walk a lot on my trips but this is the first time this has happened to me (usually it’s just my knee which gives me trouble). After some googling and expert self-diagnosing, I figure I had something called extensor tendonitis. Once I saw the symptoms, and most importantly the causes for this, I knew it’s what I had. Pain on the top of the foot when moving my toes caused by lots of walking in shoes which are tied much too tightly. I was bringing the same pair of shoes with me I’d worn on every overseas trip I’ve ever taken, spanning the past decade, and they were getting a bit long in the tooth so I figured I could compensate for their growing lack of support with some super-tight lace tying.

Well, lesson learned. Don’t tie your shoes too tight. I grabbed some ibuprofen, loosened up my laces, and developed a slight limp to take most of the pressure off my left foot, and I was pretty much back to normal in a few short days. The pain was actually pretty excruciating in the meantime, but manageable with the limp.

As of a few months ago (opened Dec 28 2016) there’s now a brand new MTR line on HK Island which takes you to the southern half of the island, appropriately named the South Island Line. Before if you wanted to get down here you had to take a bus, taxi, or walk, but now you can zip right down in a matter of minutes. I decided to take advantage of this and see just what was down there.

Right outside the Lei Tung station there was a cool apartment complex where I did a bunch of the daytime building photography I posted earlier.

And then I walked from there to the Wong Chuk Hang station farther up the line.

Right by the station there was a small temple with nobody inside.

Back up to the Central and Wan Chai area I was able to do a bit of night photography as well.

Taken from the tip of Kowloon, here’s the view of Hong Kong Island from the harbor. I much prefer the foggy shots I was able to get here last time, but there seems to be a cool new ferry nowadays built to look like the old-style junk boats, so that was cool to see.

Now back in Kowloon for some night photography

At this point it was time to head back to the airport to catch my flight to Tokyo, so I decided to wake up (relatively) early and walk from my guesthouse in Mong Kok down to Victoria Harbor.

On the way down there I found an indoor market and popped in to grab a couple quick shots.

So after about an hour’s walk and some breakfast I got to the station and hopped back on the Airport Express. Hong Kong was fun and I already can’t wait to get back, but this vacation was just getting started.

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