NZPhotographer Issue 27, January 2020

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We firstly meandered with our cameras through two very

old local style Chinese neighbourhoods: Yaumatei and

Mongkok. Mongkok literally means crowded street corner

in Cantonese. Our walk ran parallel with Nathan Road, a

famous shopping street also known as Hong Kong’s Golden

Mile, only we stayed on the Western side which is old

residential and industrial and definitely not touristy.

William described this area as Hong Kong style “messy

urbanism;” public spaces and buildings externally modified

and adapted to uses not originally envisioned by city

planners. The area is densely packed with old tenement

buildings dating back to the early 50s, the period when

Hong Kong was inundated with refugees from Mainland

China. There are still vibrant outdoor markets, street shrines

and temples, old pawn shops, old family owned restaurants

and traditional shops as well as seedier establishments of

the night such as mahjong parlours and night clubs. We

did come across evidence of the protests, including a

shrine to a young girl recently found dead in the harbour

- supposedly suicide though rumour of being killed by the

police. But thankfully no direct protest action.

After threading our way through all manner of Hong

Kong/Cantonese Street life, we reached a quintessential

expression of Chinese culture: the Yuen Po Street Bird

Garden. Evidently, old men like to have song birds as pets.

They keep them in wonderfully ornate bamboo cages and

take them for a daily stroll to the local park or bird meet-up

place. The birds sing to each other and the good old boys

socialise and talk bird shop. There are a few ladies in the

mix, but most seem to specialise in selling the birds and a

range of bird-related accoutrements.

WHAT TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS CAN YOU

SHARE WITH US?

Allow yourself time to revisit certain spots at different times

of day, or again at a favoured time of day. I think this has

been my own short-coming, as I haven’t always been as

patient and considered as I might have been had I taken

more time in one place, so maybe this is also advice for my

future travelling self. There’s not always something better

around the next corner so best to get a great shot where

you are than a series of rushed shots on the move.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON OVER TOURISM?

Hmmm well that is an interesting one isn’t it because

as photographers we are somewhat perpetuating the

problem. We take photos of these beautiful, amazing

places which encourage others to want to visit!

In China, almost all the thousands of tourists we ‘toured’

alongside were Chinese nationals so I am not sure if that

fits the definition of over tourism as they are technically

locals themselves. My perception in China was that

the tourist dollar was very welcome, but I did often

wonder about the impact of so many people on the

environment, and was often surprised at the ease of

access to precious places that would perhaps benefit

from controlled access to preserve longevity. I guess

that is the rub worldwide.

ABERDEEN FISHING VILLAGE, HONG KONG

F8, 1/500s, ISO200

28

NZPhotographer

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