Hong Kong Diary 3a: Victoria Peak, Shau Kei Wan

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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Day 3 of our Hong Kong escapade began as the previous days, with no sunrise but just an increasing level of brightness filtering through the overcast.  Nevertheless, we decided to push through with the planned outing to Tai Ping Shan, formerly known as Victoria Peak.  I have to say I do like Tai Ping Shan better – sounds more picturesque.  On the way from Kowloon to the Hong Kong side, I found a shot that would perfectly illustrate the conditions for the day: this vividly painted ferry was almost the only spot of color amid the gray seas and skies.

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As we waited to board the historic tram going up Hong Kong’s highest peak, I took the opportunity to lean over the rails and get this perspective shot.  This is where I got to really appreciate the hilliness of Hong Kong’s terrain – from the very start the tram’s tracks were already at a dizzying, almost 30-degree incline. 

_MG_5995 I was also very glad that Cat and I had visited the HK Museum of Art before the Tai Ping Shan outing.  Had we not done so, I might’ve spent most of the time on the peak moping about the lack of sun.  Instead, I found myself eagerly looking forward to working the fog into my photos.  Inspired by the minimalist yet highly evocative ink paintings I had seen, I again set my camera to Monochrome and overexposed most of my shots  by a stop or more.  Hiking the peaceful trails leading down the slope from the Peak station let me discover some nicely layered landscapes, which I tried to capture in the Chinese painting style. 

_MG_6007 The atmosphere of the fogbound trail was great; some say fog saps the spirit, but I found rather that going into the mist came with a strong sense of adventure.  What lies beyond the bend? I have no idea! That’s why I want to go there!

_MG_6061 _MG_6028 I had meant to work in black and white throughout my trail walk, but as I rounded a bend I was faced with this exquisitely textured wall of moss-covered rock.  I looked out over the fog-bound hillside, saw that I’d already gotten the best angles as far as I could see, and so wistfully set my camera back to color mode.  Another lesson from the Nan Lian Garden; be as the bamboo, Grasshopper, and shoot your surroundings the way they’re asking to be shot.

When at last Cat and I were ready to leave the Peak station, we made our way to Shau Kei Wan.  Our research had indicated this was a fishing village.  Ha ha. No more fishing village.  The galloping pace of Hong Kong’s real estate development had gotten there before our online guides could update their info, it seems, but we did find an older, cosier commercial area that again lent itself well to being shot in monochrome.  The people were kindly and took with amusement to our shooting everything, some even posing with a glee that felt almost Filipino.  I was only asked to desist once, when I entered a roadside shrine.  In respect to their religious taboos, I bowed and shut off my camera. 

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We made our way to the waterfront, where we found fleets of sampans plying the Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Shelter as taxis and fishing boats.  The smartly dressed passengers on this water taxi, talking into her snazzy new cellphone as the boat came in to dock, was so iconic of the continuity of culture here that I just had to shoot them.   By this time Cat and I were getting rather footsore and hungry, so we headed back for the nearest MTR station for the long trip back to Kowloon.

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