Monday, August 24, 2009

Gong Gong Comes to New York

Imagining a more mythic journey of my Grandfather when he left his home in China for better opportunities in the United States, and specifically New York City.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pics of the Day 09: Dragon's Back and Shek O Beach

Saturday was a beautiful day. I went on a hike along Dragon's Back, this was my 5th time on the trail. But today's weather offered the most stunning views I've seen yet- visibility was great. Since August is the wettest month in Hong Kong, the hills were a magnificent bright green, the waters a clear and deep blue. I saw so many butterflies, and a giant spider clinging to its web. After the hike, we took the bus for a short ride to Shek O beach. In 35 degree C weather, the hot sand burned our feet, but the water was really refreshing. It's days like this that make me fall in love with Hong Kong all over again.

View of Stanley from Dragon's Back

The giant spider

Shek O town and beach

Shek O Beach

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pics of the Day 08: More Sham Shui Po

Went back to Sham Shui Po, this time with the big video camera I borrowed from the university. Another unbelievably hot day. I walked down Hoi Tan Street, where my Mom and her family first lived in Hong Kong. I stopped for a cold drink at a tea place, and made small conversation with another customer, me speaking in Mandarin, him speaking to me in Cantonese.

I have really grown to like this area, which feels like a throw-back to the past. There were some gems of buildings that looked like colonial era (maybe the 20s and 30s?) that are rare to find on Hong Kong island.

The hotel I stayed in last September, just behind the street where my Mom and her family first lived in HK

Delicious cold tea drink. The small sign on the left says "Five Flower Tea"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

From Electric Road to North Point

Another experiment in visual style, depicting my mother and her family's move from Electric Road to North Point.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pics of the Day 07: A Reminder of Home...

Went walking around Sham Shui Po on a hot hot Saturday afternoon. Sham Shui Po was where I first stayed when I came to HK. I came back to take some more photos of the streets and buildings. It was strange returning, I hadn't been to this neighborhood in almost 10 months already. As I was walking, I found a small shop that sold those large plastic vinyl bags that are great for holding just about everything. I was really just trying to take photos of the sewing machine, which looked pretty ancient. Later when I uploaded the photos, I saw the Yankees hat in the background. Oh, New York, how I miss you!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Stich by Stitch...

My grandmother worked hard to support her family, sewing and doing embroidery work in Hong Kong. The textile industry was booming during this time due to the influx of available workers and the capital and technology brought from down from Shanghai. I wonder what it was like for her...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pics of the Day 06: A Walk Down Chun Yeung Street

A walk down the Chun Yeung Street outdoor market, one street up from the building where my Mom's family used to live in North Point. I took a photograph of every single shop along the north side of the street, starting on the eastern most corner of the street and moving west. I finished just as a downpour started, leftovers from yesterday's typhoon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On Peak Hill

Was listening to this song by Stars called On Peak Hill. This image came to mind.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pics of the Day 05: Shek Kip Mei Housing Estates Visit

Last Sunday I went to see an old public housing estate that was open to the public for the last time before the government closes it- for historic preservation, renovation, I'm not sure.

The Mei Ho House was one of the first public housing projects the Hong Kong government undertook in 1954, as a response to the devastating fires that leveled thousands of homes in the squatter village in December of 1953. The public housing estates were an answer to the overwhelming numbers of refugees that swelled Hong Kong's population by millions in the early 1950s. It provided shelter in fire-proof structures, albeit small and not so design-friendly.

I first saw the Mei Ho House coming down the road from JCCAC. My first thoughts were it looked a little like a prison, because it was behind barbed wire and a fence. It also looked eerily deserted, and the structure itself was un-inviting in design and taste. Boxy, decrepit, with peeling paint. The day hot and humid, I quickly thought how unbearable living there must have been in the summer months. No air-conditioning, sweaty, cramped stuffy rooms, the smell of rotting food, garbage, human sweat. This was an upgrade from the squatter villages? It was hard to imagine living conditions worse than this…

My first view of the H-block style housing estate. It was swarming with visitors on this late Saturday morning. I felt really happy that so many local Hong Kong people were taking an interest in their local heritage by visiting this historic site.

Faded peeling paint. Balconies facing outwards, long corridors. Geometrical, simple. Six stories. No elevators. Gates and bars.

Hot sun beating down.

Visitors with big professional cameras. One man takes our picture. Concrete, concrete concrete. Nothing soft or organic left. A hard empty shell.

In the first flat, crowded with people taking photos. The apartment is a small rectangular box.

The front door a faded mustard yellow. A tiny bathroom, big enough for a sink and toilet off to the right just inside the entrance. A front window. White walls, no windows except all the way in the back, coming in through the window/kitchen.

Things from decades ago..the 60s, the 70s? Plastic flowers. Ovaltine. A ceramic statue of Guan-Yin, Chinese goddess of mercy. A Chinese bible of sorts. A bright green mini-fridge. Very 70s. Horlicks. Thermoses. A cassette player and cassette tapes. The linens, table cloths, dresser covers, none of it matches. Things just there, randomly, but all necessities. Nothing is decorated, just put together. An old tv. An old radio. An old calendar, time frozen. Old tin cans hold nothing. Small beds, folding tables, folding chairs. Plastic coverings, plastic for protection.

We meet a woman, she and her husband speaks English. She looks to be in her 50s. She has come to the Mei Ho House because she was born there. They still live in Hong Kong, out in New Territories. The house she grew up in is not open to the public. It must be a very special feeling to be back. She remembers playing outside with her friends, but I don’t think she remembers much.

The corridors are long and empty, but once they must have been filled with children running up and down the corridors. Parents who walked home from a long day of work at a factory. Grandparents and elderly, joints stiff, backs aching, slowly shuffling down, one step at a time. There is no rush. Time is still.