The Pearl of the Orient

As one of the world's leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterized by low taxation and free trade. This economy attracts people from all over the world and has created vast amounts of wealth (Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world)... but it has also lead to extreme gaps between rich and poor. 

Since Hong Kong is small territory, there is a lack of space. This has caused demand for denser constructions, which developed the city to a centre for modern architecture and the world's most vertical city. The dense space also led to a highly developed transportation network with public transport travelling rate exceeding 90 percent (the highest in the world). Hong Kong has numerous high international rankings in various aspects... its economic freedom, financial and economic competitiveness, quality of life, corruption perception (becoming a police officer in Hong Kong is one of the most difficult application processes), Human Development Index are all ranked highly.

Anyways, when you combine all of these elements in a dense area, it leads to interesting street photography. These are a few of the photos I took while wandering around Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

Attack of the Rubber Ducks!

The six-story-high version of the childhood bathtub favorite was set adrift in Victoria harbor prior to Hong Kong's "Art Week". While the annual art fair anchors the festivities, it is also the time of year that the city puts on its best cultural works and events... and this year, the most talked about "cultural work" was the giant rubber duck floating next to the Star Ferry Pier. Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman came up with the concept (officially called "Spreading Joy Around the World") to try and create a catalyst to connect people to public art.

Not only has the rubber duck brought happiness and joy... but it has also lead to the "Rubber Duck Stimulus". Since May 2 (the day it first arrived), rubber duck mania has ensued... attracting hundreds of thousands of people from the region and prompting businesses to launch a seemingly endless supply of duck-related products. I'm not quite sure why the rubber duck has been such a hit in Hong Kong (has already made appearances in nine other countries around the world without as much fanfare). However, it gave the city a little boost, just as it needed something.

Apparently, the rubber duck has already been knocked off by several cities in China. If you want the real rubber duck, you have to wait and see where the dutch artist takes it next.

Tourist Photos at Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak is probably one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong... and it's kind of easy to see why. The view is ridiculous. On one of my first trips to Hong Kong, I thought I would go up for a quick afternoon tour (ended up staying for 5+ hours just staring out into the vast cityscape). I had not gone back since... however, I was out with a friend and we decided to take a late night trip up the escalators in Soho (Hong Kong island is built on levels and there is actually an escalator system that will take you up... longest covered outdoor escalator system in the world). There were signs that kept directing us up to Victoria Peak... and we  decided to keep on going until we reached the top. However, eventually the escalators stopped and we would have had to continue walking up a steep trail (didn't seem too fun since it was hot and we had a bit to drink). That's when I hailed a taxi! The main observation deck was closed when we finally arrived (it was quite late)... but we managed to sneak onto another observation deck that had also been closed. These are a few of the photos I took before the security guards asked us to kindly leave (think they came out pretty good since I didn't have a tripod). Enjoy!

An Eerie Hong Kong

After eating a big dinner, I decided to take a stroll through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui. It was a rainy, misty, foggy evening... and the city had an "eerie" feeling to it. The bright lights mixed with the fog helped to illuminate the city streets. These are a few photos from that evening.

Food Culture in Hong Kong

Food is a very important part of the culture in Hong Kong (and China)... and it's one of the reasons why I enjoy visiting. You can get anything you want in Hong Kong (except good Mexican food... they still haven't figured that out yet). However, my favorite thing to eat is the local food (dumplings, hot pot, seafood, noodles, fish balls, etc)... and I also like visiting the street vendors. I've been lucky enough to become friends with some locals and I've been introduced to a lot of amazing food places (except the stinky tofu place... I didn't like that).

In the Asian culture, it's a big deal when people invite you to share a meal with them... and I definitely appreciate the warm hospitality.

One Second Moments

Life in big cities moves so fast that it can be difficult to take a moment to catch your breathe. Hong Kong is no different... sometimes moving so fast that it cannot be captured in a still image. In these photos, I  focused on a stationary object and did a one second exposure.. and then watched as taxis, cars, buses, and people rushed by. The second photo (black and white version) had about 100 people on the elevated walkway... but the majority of their silhouettes disappeared as they were moving too fast to be captured in the photo.

Raining In the City

A "rainy day" in Hong Kong isn't necessarily a bad thing (helps that you can walk almost everywhere underground or on a covered walkway)... the rain cleans the air, cools things down, and makes for great "photo ops". I love the reflections of the neon lights... it illuminates the city even more. These are a few photos I took while walking walking around Tsim Sha Tsui (in Kowloon) post-rain storm.

When in Hong Kong...

I'm not really a fan of umbrellas... however, in Hong Kong, the umbrella is part of the culture... and during the summer months, it becomes a necessity. You just have to be careful and protect your eyes when walking through tight alleyways. In the top photo, I was taking shelter under a bamboo scaffolding during the midst of a brief downpour (I forgot my umbrella and didn't want to buy another one... umbrella prices skyrocket when it is raining). I was probably getting in everyone's way, but found a good vantage point to take some photos of the bottleneck that was created when people tried to squeeze into the small space.

"3 Days in Hong Kong" - Torrential Rain, Glorious Sunshine, and Giant Rubber Ducks

During my last trip to Asia, I was lucky enough to spend a few extra days in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is an awesome city. I've been coming here for about 10 years... and have had some great times and have met some awesome people. However, whenever I go back, I seem to fall into the same routine (hit the same shops, restaurants, and sites). This time I wanted to try something different and walk away with some new experiences... I purchased my first tailored suit, ate at new restaurants, stayed in a new hotel, explored different parts of the city, and experienced my first "sunny day" in the city!! (reference the 2nd photo) It was a great trip... more photos and stories to come later.