Posts Tagged ‘China’

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.

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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.

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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.

Jamie

So the weekly photo challenge is forward. I must start by saying if you are a little bit squeamish then this post may not be for you. I will post the pictures at the bottom and I will write the blurb at the top to explain what it is all about. The pictures are from the Bodies exhibit at the Venetian hotel and casino in Macau.

So over the weekend I went to Macau with some colleagues, Macau is another Special Administrative Region of China just like Hong Kong, the key difference is that it was a colony of the Portuguese. The two regions are similar in a lot of way but also very different. Macau is more laid back and definitely has a very European feel, in some ways it reminds me of living in Italy as a child. Part of the reason for this more “European feel” is probably due to the fact the Portuguese governed in Macau from the middle of the 16th century where as Hong Kong was only under British rule from the middle of the nineteenth century. Another big difference is size, Macau is smaller in population than Hong Kong by a long way. There is about half a million people in Macau and 7 million in Hong Kong.

Macau is growing and is becoming more economically strong because of gambling. Before the hand over in 1999 most of the major investment in this part of the world came to Hong Kong. Macau was known as the Sin city of south china, it was seedy casinos and loose women all the way. Now it is big Casinos and loose women (some things never change.) These new Casino’s are massive and you have all the big players in town, The Wynn, MGM and the Venetian to name a few. Macau has become such a powerful gambling location, that the casinos since about 2009 have made more money in Macau than in Las Vegas.

I have been to Vegas, Macau is completely different. Gambling in Macau is business, the minimum bet on tables is 300 HK$ (They have their own currency in Macau, the Pataca. But the casinos will not accept it opting for the Hong Kong dollar instead. Apparently this is due to the security of the HKD being second to none.) 300 HK$ is equivalent to about 25 pounds, 30 euros or 40 US$. These tables are rare to find as well with most being 500 and 1000$. (one of my colleagues was shooed off the craps table for bidding too little, by the other players! the staff diplomatically suggested he might want to try the other table with lower limits)

Anyway we arrived on the boat and set off for lunch at a Portuguese restaurant called A Lorcha, an incredibly busy restaurant that should be on every ones list of things to do in Macau. Afterwards we set of for the Bodies exhibit, something I had been looking forward to seeing. I am a biology teacher and so I know all about the plastination technique of preserving bodies.

So we got there to be greeted by this fellow.SAM_1426

As you go through the exhibit they showcase various structures in the body. So this one was looking at the muscle system and how it all goes together.

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This one was looking at the combination of all the different layers.

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And finally the image that got me thinking of forward. The body in full run with the muscles exposed and in some cases disconnected.

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So there you have my post for forward. All about a city that is moving forward fast, with an exhibition that some my say is forward thinking, whilst some would say it is not.

Jamie.