Hong Kong Photography travel

Living like a local in Hong Kong

Looking at Hong Kong across Victoria Harbour from Kowloon. This city is a photographers dreamscape. Even though it was cloudy and hazy for most of our stay it was still an incredible city to take in.

We were very fortunate to be able to do a house sitting gig in Hong Kong that put us right in the middle of the action. Not the harbour front touristy area, but just a few blocks in where the people of this part of Hong Kong live.

Due to the size of the apartments and the cost of electricity all laundry is hung to dry outside. And when it is a vertical jungle of apartment towers, that makes for a lot of clothes flying from the sides of buildings.

The apartment we stayed in was typical tiny Hong Kong with everything one needed. We were fortunate to also have a rooftop patio which made us exceptionally fortunate. Of course to have the roof top means your apartment is on the top floor (no elevator) so we got our share of exercise just getting up the six flights of stairs.

Our apartment was 40 metres from the Man Mo Temple which is the largest temple in Hong Kong. An amazing place to observe people observe the rituals of their beliefs. The amount of fire in the place was incredible.
As we were in Hong Kong for the Christmas season we were able to take in some of their decorations and events. The lighting on the HSBC building behind us was amazing. As was the lighting on most of the buildings facing the harbour.
The malls (and they have a lot of malls) were all decorated for Christmas. The big difference for us was there were no Santa Claus’s anywhere. The only person we saw holding children and posing for photos was this creepy dude in a kilt and pantomime face paint.(he was not a mime though as he had a microphone which was broadcasting his chatter all through the centre court) Everything about him made me nervous.
We headed down to the waterfront for New Years Eve with 300,000 other people to watch the fire works. Due to the small apartments here, people are experts at gathering and socializing in public places. There were card games, folding tables, and food everywhere. The best part is people just work around the crowds without getting upset.
The fireworks on New Years Eve were amazing. Not a super choreographed artistic display, just 10 solid minutes of volume. It was a hell of a show.
Most North Americans associate cardboard on the sidewalks with homeless people sleeping. However here it seems to be the standard flooring choice for social gatherings. It was normal in the evening or on weekends to see up to half of the floorspace in pedestrian walkways (+15’s) and any covered area to be covered in flattened cardboard boxes. Groups meet and socialize in these places singing, playing games, and eating. The food we saw was incredible. Come morning everyone is gone and all the debris has been cleaned up. Pretty cool.

In addition to soaking in the experience of walking the streets, shopping, and exploring the markets we also did the obligatory trip to Hong Kong Disney (come on! It’s Disney!)

Hong Kong Disney is the smallest Disney property in the world. Therefore it is easily done in one day. It was overcast the day we went, so not as good for photos, but excellent for walking around the park all day.
One of the things I love about Disney is how they brand everything. Right from the time you board the spur line train that takes you into Disneyland everything is geared toward the Disney experience.
Many of the buildings and attractions are identical to the properties in the U.S. and Paris, however we found it interesting that Cinderella’s castle was noticeably smaller.
Of course all the characters are out in force. One of the nice things here was the line ups were shorter for everything than I recall in the two U.S. properties, which was nice.
Of course the focus on Star Wars was huge. These guys were out and about every hour posing for photos and interacting with the crowds.
We made an effort to hit all the fun rides, and were very successful. My second favourite was RC Racer. HyperSpace Mountain took top marks though.
Of course what visit to Disney wouldn’t be complete without taking in the Flights of Fantasy Parade. All in, a great day. The crowds started getting thick in the late afternoon, but that was fine because we were done by then.
It seemed every day we went to the top of Victoria Peak with a camera it was overcast and hazy. Not good for beautiful panoramas, but an excellent opportunity to play a bit with the photos. That is Hong Kong Island immediately below and Kowloon across the water.
Karen and I did the 5km walk up the Peak to take in the view from Lugard Road. A different perspective, but the same overcast. The funny thing was I did a few runs up to the Peak and each of those times I was treated to a clear view, but no camera. Oh the trials we suffer.
The part I enjoyed most about being here was just walking the streets. Due to the way this part of the city is built into the side of the mountain, it creates wonderful little alleys and roads that sprout out in every direction. You never know for sure what is around the next corner.
Part of the system seems to be that people stake out a square of sidewalk and set up their business there, right out in the open. This fellow was right at the intersection of two busy roads. Great for walk in customers I suppose.
At first I thought something interesting was going down. Then actually looked at these fellows and realized they are pretend. Apparently their group supplies gunmen for TV and movie productions. They were just taking part in a community fair. There were children doing traditional singing and dancing across the road from here.
As we were checking out locations for the fire works display we came across this fellow by the Convention Centre. One can’t pass up a challenge like that.
This sculpture of a flowering Golden Bauhinia is located in front of the Hong Kong Convention Centre. It is there to commemorate the 1997 Handover, when the British signed over control of the Hong Kong Territories to China.
The International Commerce Centre is the tallest building in Hong Kong and the 10th tallest building in the world. There is an observation platform on the 100th floor.

We got the two day pass on the Hop on Hop off bus which helped us get a feel for the layout of the city. Plus you get a ton of passes to other sights. We used the HOHO bus to explore Aberdeen on the south side of the island. Which got us our ride on a sampan through a floating village. (honestly, it looked like a harbour to me)

The pilot of this Sampan made me smile. Who said men can’t multitask.
If you ever hear of a business being absolutely intertwined with the history of a city, that would be the Star Ferry. This was included in the HOHO package. We ended up making a few trips over to Kowloon on the Star Ferry. Very cool experiencing a part of history like that.

Another mode of transportation that has survived into the new millennium is the Hong Kong tram lines, or “ding, ding” as they are known.

The citizens of Hong Kong voted to keep the tram system in place when government threatened to do away with it. This environmentally friendly, inexpensive ($2.30HK or .40CDN) and cool system is a great way to explore the length of Hong Kong.
We took the tram to Chai Wan which is the end of the line. It was like being dropped in the middle of everything you could possibly imagine Hong Kong to be. The people, the noise, the very interesting shops, so very cool. Yes, the tram goes down the street in the photo.
The different types of shops are grouped together. There were at least 6 butcher shops in this one block. There certainly was no question of fresh.
The streets just begged to be explored. Whatever you are looking for, it is somewhere in Hong Kong.
The other thing we noticed in our wanderings was the massive use of bamboo for scaffolding. We have seen natural products used in many areas for small projects however, the use of bamboo here is mind-boggling. The construction we saw here dwarfed anything I have seen before. And easily over 98% used bamboo poles as scaffolding. It is incredible to behold.

There is without doubt a LOT of money in Hong Kong. If you don’t count the Toyota taxis (which there are a lot of) we saw more Mercedes, Teslas, Audi, and Porsches than any other make of car. It is a wonderland for the auto enthusiast. But the true magic, visually speaking, happens after sunset.

The boats getting in position for the nightly light show on the harbour. That is the International Commerce Centre illuminated in the background.
This is the street just down the road from our apartment. A kaleidoscope of colour and light.
One of the harbour tour boats making its way into position for the light show with the Kowloon skyline in the background.

Hong Kong is a wonderful city and one that if you ever get the chance to explore you should seize it.

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

4 comments on “Living like a local in Hong Kong

  1. Wow…really interesting & informative. Did not see much “open space” there! Great pictures..as usual

  2. Jennifer Pecksen

    Wonderful trip to Hong Kong!! Thank you. I enjoyed my time there very much 🙂 Love Jenn

    On Sun, Jan 8, 2017 at 5:34 PM, Peter & Karen Pecksen wrote:

    > peterpecksen posted: ” We were very fortunate to be able to do a house > sitting gig in Hong Kong that put us right in the middle of the action. Not > the harbour front touristy area, but just a few blocks in where the people > of this part of Hong Kong live. The apartment we st” >

  3. Bryce Sherman

    Great read K&P. Looks amazing to be there. Getting to be such a well written easy read that one would expect you fall into this type of thing as a part time money maker. Just sayin


    Cheers and kind regards,

    Bryce Sherman

    On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 10:34 AM, Peter & Karen Pecksen wrote:

    > peterpecksen posted: ” We were very fortunate to be able to do a house > sitting gig in Hong Kong that put us right in the middle of the action. Not > the harbour front touristy area, but just a few blocks in where the people > of this part of Hong Kong live. The apartment we st” >

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