I missed last weeks Photo Challenge Up due to work commitments. Which is a real pity as I feel that being in Hong Kong we have a lot of ups. We are the most vertical city in the world apparently, oh well work had to come first.

Culture, In Hong Kong? Some would argue that the only culture in Hong Kong is shopping culture or a culture of money. I tend to disagree, as there is a lot more going on here than that. I could show images of the various ethnic cultures that make up Hong Kong. I still have plan to go and take some pictures in Chung King Mansions at some point. Chung King Mansion is a location where a lot of South Asian who first come to Hong Kong used to stay, with cheap hostels and food from home. Now it is changing with more of the people staying there coming from African states, but the South Asians have kept their businesses there. It is an amazing location that has a real unique flavour, that has got some sights you will not see elsewhere.

I could also take pictures of the blend of old and new in Hong Kong. Instead what I am going to do is show a few images of the Chinese Lion Dancers. At Chinese New Year the Lion Dancers are often seen around town bringing in luck by eating the greens. It is exciting to watch and Businesses will reward the dancers with Red Pockets with money in them if they put on a good show.

Often Lion dances are confused with Dragon dances, but there is a fundamental difference between as the Lion dance is two people in a lion suit whereas dragon dance has many more people carrying a dragon on poles. IMG_4906




Anyway I hope you like my take on culture in Hong Kong.


So the Weekly Photo Challenge is change.

For me Change can mean many things,  the change in people, seasons or even as simple the change in location.  I could have talked about how I have changed over the years, I could have talked about the changing of the seasons. In the end I decided to talk about the a change that you can see within Hong Kong if you travel no more than one hour from the down town area around the Harbour.

Most people when they think of Hong Kong think of this image. IMG_4632

Or the images that I linked in My Neighbourhood.

But what a lot do not realise about Hong Kong is that there is a huge area of Hong Kong that is country parks. (If you do not believe me just look at a satellite map of Hong Kong on google and you will see a lot of greenery, especially in the north east.)

So in this post I want to highlight what a change travelling out of the centre can make. All of these photos are from the North East corner of Hong Kong around the villages of Sam A Tsuen etc. in the Plover Cove Country Park.  There are a lot of abandoned Villages in this part of the world that the young men and women left in the 60’s to go and work overseas in the UK for example. The villages continued for about 20 years more and started to be abandoned in the 80’s as parents got too old to hike 6 or 7 km in and out of some of them. I can get to this park in about an hour from where I live in the down town area.

Nature is changing and claiming them back slowly but surely, but in some of the villages there are holdouts. People who keep the places on for weekend homes or in some cases the sons returning from overseas to claim their family homes back, a lot of whom are retired. I wonder how many of them will be able to keep going.

There is a huge amount of Nature in the area and some really interesting structures, there are also the infamous wild cows of Hong Kong. Anyway I hope you like the images below that show the change that can be seen from the Down town area and the country park.

So the weekly photo challenge is colour.

I live in Hong Kong which has a really unique set up as part of China, as they say one country two systems. It is remarkably different between the two systems, in terms of what happens. A while back I was lucky enough to go to Xi’an with work, as part of that trip we went to Mount Huashan. Mount Huashan is a popular destination for tourists as it has amazing views from the top of the five peaks. When I went you had to walk up or take a cable car, we walked. Now there are apparently two cable car routes up, with a new one starting recently that is faster and has better access to the peaks. It is incredibly beautiful and has some rather dangerous drop off points along the ridge of the peaks.

So how does colour tie in with this and Hong Kong. Well the colour most commonly associated with China is Red due to communism, This is the case in Hong Kong as well with lots of red colour found all over. But Red is not just associated with communism it has a much older meaning of luck. This is why you will find the red pockets that are little pouches of money given to people for weddings and Chinese new year.

At Mount Huashan one of the most amazing things I saw was the locks on chains, seen in the images below. People climb the Mountain then they buy a padlock from one of the many vendors then have them engraved with a message to their family wishing  good luck, health and fortune. People then attach them to the chains on top of the mountain so that the good luck can reach the entire family no matter where they are.

You will never find red at funerals for example as it the colour linked to happiness. Though writing the name of a person in red can be offensive, as it was the colour previously used to write the names of the dead. In the case of the locks the red strips are added to bring that much needed luck.





Well that is all for me this week. Over the weekend I am going with a friend doing a 12km hike in the new territories of Hong Kong. We are going  to be photographing some of the old abandoned villages in the plover cove country park. It should be a lot of fun.


Well I missed the photo challenge last week due being really quite ill with food poisoning and I am late this week due to having a lot of work to catch up on.

As a teacher my days are usually quite regimented. I normally get up at 6.30 in the morning. get some breakfast, shower and then head off to work in a cab. This journey usually takes me 15 minutes and then it is educating young minds all day, or at least trying to. I have always loved teaching there are great holidays and…. well that is about all there is. I am joking teaching is a great job, you get to see students suddenly understand something and it is the best feeling in the world. The students I teach now are absolutely amazing, and unlike the UK I get to “teach” more often.

Unfortunately I can not really put together a set of photos that I felt were to do with my normal day. So what I have done instead is put some together of a couple of days over the holidays. All of them were taken with my iphone as quick snaps.

Next week I will be back to taking regular photos and not phoneography ones.

So the Weekly Phoneography challenge is Lunch Time.

I could have gone with the following image taken on my iPad. But then I decided that was kind of boring and was not really what I did at lunch time.


So with the weekly challenge being phoneography I decided to show you more what I did at lunch time today with my iPad an a new app that I had just got called Tangled FX. The original image was one I took on my trip to South Africa last year of a lioness in Pilanesberg national park.


I know that the image was not taken with my iPad, but the following images were created on my iPad at lunchtime. I also transferred the images on to my iPad at the time using the device that Apple sells.

So what did I end up doing? Well tangled FX is an app that takes an image you already have or that you take on the device and applies some drawing type effects to it. (This is a tired explanation at the end of a long week. I will let the images talk for themselves, they will probably make more sense.)

The first image is using a pre-set effect called Cartoon. I kind of like this image especially around the eyes.


The second is called Lightside, a bit to surreal for me. But you can definitely still see the Lion.

light side

The next two are custom setting images. The first one I kind of like, the second one is pretty bad.



At first I really liked the first one with the cartoon effect but the more I look at it the more it feels like a photo that has been tampered with. Now my favourite one is the first custom setting one, I think it is because it is so different from the original. You can still make out the Lion but it does not feel like a photo any more, but more like a computer generated image.

So there we have it lunch time or more importantly what I did with my lunchtime an iPad app and an image.


So the weekly photo challenge is My Neighbourhood as seen through a smart phone. I decided to cheat on this slightly, I did not use a camera, camera like some have, but instead I have used a new ipad. I figured it is a hand-held device that does a lot of the things that my iphone does but with a better set up for taking an image. It actually worked out better than I thought it would, and I got quite a lot of images.

Let me start by talking about “My Neighbourhood.” I live in Hong Kong on the Kowloon side in a place called Tai Kok Tsui. I live on a big new estate with a lot of features that make my life very easy, and I have lived there for the whole time I have been in Hong Kong.  I love where I live,it is close enough to town for me to get whatever I want but is more local in lots of ways, something I really enjoy. It used to be/still is pretty notorious for its cage homes, or so some of my friends from the police rugby team tell me. ( See the following web link for an example. Cage Home)

What it is also famous for is metal working and recycling shops, something I really enjoy. I love seeing the metal being worked and cut, maybe this comes from my family history as both of my grandparents worked in heavy industry.

But the area is changing, the Urban Renewal Authority has come in and are starting to tear old buildings down and replace them with new apartments and hotels. The character of the area is being lost and I feel a little bit sad about it all in a way.

Anyway on to the photos, I have a lot this week as I have so much to show of the area.

All of these shots are from the metal working shops, or the street outside the shop in the case of the last one.






The guard dogs that look after these workshops are well looked after and do a really good job of barking at people that they do not recognise.


The following images are of some of the old buildings. The second one shows some of the redevelopment that has happened in the background. Along with one of the buildings that used to be a cage home area.




The new building is nearly complete so down comes the bamboo scaffolding. I am always amazed at how high they go with this stuff. When they were building the tall building in the previous picture the bamboo went all the way to the top, about 70 floors.






At the end of the day some of the workers are winding down with a cool beer.



They also recycle metal here with trucks turning up with old window frames, fire extinguisher’s and old air conditioners to name some. There is a lot of complaints about this activity as they often park two deep.


It is not all metal working shops, there are also car places that can give your car a quick clean or buff. IMG_0113

You can also get something to eat at a local “Cha Tsan Tang” basically a local white wall restaurant with good cheap local style food. For fellow Brits the guy is not swearing, just posing.


But it is not all heavy industry, there are some relaxing features. Hong Kong has some really good local parks where you will find a quieter, greener location that is a breath of fresh.  This one is right outside where I live. IMG_0132



In the park you will find a lot of old guys playing Chinese chess on the special tables they provide. IMG_0131

So there you have my neighbourhood. I was impressed with the images that the ipad took. I am planning on returning to take some more images of the cut metal pieces with the painted ends on my proper camera. I think they would have made good images for last weeks challenge.

So the weekly photo challenge is lost in the detail. take a photo opportunity and move in closer to see what else you can see.

A couple of years back I played Rugby for the Hong Kong Police, a very enjoyable pass time on the weekend for being sociable and keeping my fitness up. This weekend was the grand final for the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union leagues with the top two teams from all the leagues playing at King’s Park. I decided this would be a good opportunity to catch up with some of the old boys and also to get a few good shots of the game.

First up was the Hong Kong Police vs the Discovery Bay Pirates, unfortunately the Police lost but I did get some good pictures.

The one below sets the scene of my lost in the detail scenario. It is the scrum, the part of the game which most people have no idea what is going on. As a loose head prop this was the area I was expected to spend a fair amount of time in (Especially when the back players knock on the ball!!) In the scrum there is a lot of binding that needs to go on to hold it all together, apparently the scrum is one of the most dangerous things in any sport in the world. You can just make out one of binds across the guys at the front backs and on to the leg.


But what happens when we get in closer? IMG_5384

Well we can see that the player on the side called the flanker is bound on to the second row and is helping to push the guy in front. What a lot of people miss is the bind between the legs of the front player grabbing on to the top of his short. (Look next to the Kukri symbol in the shadows.) This is the bind of the second row player on to the prop it helps hold the core of the scrum together.

Next up the line out. Here you can see the two props supporting the guy jumping so that he can knock the ball back. It is amazing how long a player can float in the air like this.


After the game there is always celebrations and some times in rugby this can be a little weird, as can be seen by this photo. In this case the Discovery Bay Winger is enjoying his victory.


Finally on to the next match I watched. Can you work out what is a little bit different about this picture?


Well the pink may be the clue, all of these players are female. ( Not always the case, Paris St. German men’s team played in a pink kit a few years back.)

And just to prove it, I had to finish off with a common seen site according to a lot of people who have watched some rugby.


This lady is one tough cookie. It was quite a big cut and she came off strapped it up and went straight back in.

Anyway there you have my ideas for lost in the details.