All lit up
in Hong Kong, Hong Kong on 31st March, 2012


A year ago my biggest concern was finding a girlfriend which lasted longer than a week. I was surrounded by hipsters and suits in Shoreditch. Fast forward a year and I'm glad to be in a position where money and women aren't the dominant thoughts on my mind. Hong Kong has a lot of massive video billboards. I saw one advertising Canon cameras. It showed a man walking through snowy landscape looking for shots. This video, displayed 15 meters above the street, described what I wanted and now do in my life.

With Hoi An I'd found the right town in Vietnam. A low cost of living mixed with plenty to enjoy; I could meet women each and every evening. I didn't have many stories to send back home but at least I knew I had it in me to meet complete strangers in public and make something of the encounters. I now see the importance of space and place when it comes to forming friendships and bonds. That being said, this probably expands to all sorts of life encounters.

My attentions have now turned to photographing this amazing world city. I arrived late in the evening off a two-hour flight from Hanoi. I jumped into a spacious and hassle-free cab and headed into town. When I arrived at the building my hotel is in I got squished into an elevator and dropped out at a floor that looked like the entrance to a Russian police station. After 20 minutes I got checked in and given a room which was the Internet cafe. They had covered up the glass wall poorly and placed three beds in the room which measured 1.7x2.2 meters. I had posted a comment on Facebook before my flight to Hong Kong stating I hoped the Internet worked properly here. A friend on Facebook mentioned that the universe must have listened to me in reference to the four computers and Cisco router next to my bed.

The next morning I walked down to the harbour, camera in hand. I was blown away. The long line of skyscrapers along the harbour stretch on forever and were mind blowing to look at. Hong Kong is 5-10x more expensive than Vietnam but in exchange you get a really amazing architectural experience.

Unfortunately being an expensive place there are a few things missing. I haven't seen any backpacker girls anywhere. I've hardly seen anyone who doesn't look like they're working here. An Estonian friend of mine and I went for a drink the second night I was here and we ended up having to pay £6.50 for a pint of Stella in what was a very normal pub. I had gotten used to £0.50 glasses of beer in Vietnam.

This looks to be a very conservative banking city. No one stands out in what they're wearing and it feels like the city has been completely populated by Bloomberg staffers. I was expecting an amazing array of restaurants here which were cheap and cheerful. They seem to be in short supply. Saigon and Phnom Penh are better picks if you're eating alone or not bragging about your amazing and important job to someone.

Beyond the photography this is a good city for shopping. They have shoe shops that sell shoes that will fit on my feet, the camera shops are world class and the Apple store was like finding water in the desert. I was looking at the new iPad in the Apple shop when a guy working there came up, opened up the maps app and without asking, began to give me an overview of what there is to see and do in Hong Kong. I feel a bit bad that if Hong Kongers were to visit Calgary or London they wouldn't be treated as nicely as I have been here.

I'm starting to realise a few things now: I'm doing okay being alone, I really hate people in suits, I hate financial roles, I'm very much at home in poor and rural areas and had I kept up with my life at Bloomberg it would have been the biggest waste of my precious time. Most people who I knew that quit Bloomberg went on to fantastic roles elsewhere. There are a few that haven't and make mention of their worries on Facebook. I just want to tell them they broke out of jail and they're free now. A day with 22 hours of anxiety still has 2 hours of pleasure which is more than when you're filling in black and orange tickets like a robot.

After posting the photos I took up on Facebook I was worried there wasn't a big variety of shots and anyone could have taken them. There weren't any from hard-to-get-to areas or from intimate moments with new friends I'd met. Everyone here dresses like they're from Calgary here so street people shots didn't have the same charm to them. But I'd got a message from a friend back in London who'd shown the photos to a Hong Konger living in London. She said she cried when she saw the photos. I've been thinking about that for a day now and I'm not sure if it's is a positive or a negative thing to remind someone of somewhere they miss dearly.


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