Mave On The Move Week 33

David M. Byrne

New Member
Hello again,

Ok, time to get back into it. It has been quite a while since my last entry. I’ve been preoccupied of late so apologies for that. I’m glad to get back on track and look forward to regular entries for the majority of 2013. This entry covers week 33 of the trip, days 226-232, days spent in Hog Kong & Shanghai, China, both quite different from India where I had spent the previous 6 weeks of the trip. Right, let’s get on with it.

Picture 170, Day 226 – Central Hong Kong Island As Seen From Kowloo, Hong Kong. October 17th 2012

Hong Kong, designated a SAR, or Special Administrative Region of China, is the home of one of the world’s greatest & photogenic cityscapes, the above view of the Hong Kong Island shore front as seen from across Victoria Harbour in Kowloon. I sat by the water’s edge in Kowloon for a few hours on my first night in the city, waiting as darkness descended on night 226 of the trip & watching the lights across the harbour slowly sprang into life. I took quite a few shots, mostly at dusk with some (rapidly dying) light left in the sky. However, the shots taken in complete darkness were my favourite – the lights just dazzled that bit more impressively.
Seen to the left of the frame is the 369 metre Bank of China Tower which is, & has been since my first visit to Hong Kong in 2004, my favourite HK skyscraper - its distinctive praying mantis look makes it stand out amongst the crowd. Built in 1989, it was, and still is today, a controversial structure - its sharp edges & negative symbolism (look at all those 'X' shapes its design), not to mention the fact that it’s orientated in the wrong direction, means it breaks some of the very basic codes of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment. Not so says the designer, a Chinese guy named I. M. Pei, who claims that structural expressionism adopted in the design resemble growing bamboo shoots, symbolising livelihood and prosperity. Whichever side you’re one it remains a pretty impressive structure.

Picture 171, Day 227 – Nathan Road, Hong Kong. October 18th 2012

Hong Kong’s two main but very different areas - the bustling, crowded peninsula Kowloon & the glitzy, skyscraper-heavy Central on Hong Kong Island – means the city is one of contrasts. Kowloon, on the Chinese mainland side of Victoria Harbour, is a mass of humanity 24/7 & as such it's a great place for some street photography. I took my camera to the streets more than once during my time in the city with the above picture being one of my favourite captures. It was taken right in the middle of Kowloon's main drag, Nathan Road. Masses of in-a-hurry people would cross the road from each side at regular intervals so I had to wait a while to get this picture as I wanted to have a clear shot at one of Hong Kong’s distinctive taxis.

Picture 172, Day 228 – Disneyland, Hong Kong. October 19th 2012

Hong Kong wasn’t all about skyscrapers, people & mayhem. One of the newest attractions around is Disneyland Hong Kong, somewhere that’s struggling to attract the hoped-for number of visitors since its 2005 opening. The usual Disneyland stalwarts of themed lands (Toy Story Land, Fantasyland etc.) & the likes of Mickey, Minnie & friends, roller-coasters & merchandise shops are never too far away (it’s a small park). However, the highlight of the visit for me was the daily Flights of Fantasy Parade which saw all manner of colourful, smiling characters passing by. I was made sure to point my camera at a few with this make-up-heavy parade participant providing me with my favourite capture of the day.

Picture 173, Day 229 – Dwellings in Kowloon, Hong Kong. October 20th 2012

Space is a luxury few can afford much of in Hong Kong. With over 6,500 people per sq km jammed into its 1,100 sq km of space it's the 4th most densely populated urban area in the world, boasting some of the most expensive real estate in the world. That explains why apartment blocks like these are a common sight, especially on the densely populated Kowloon peninsula. This sort of sight is hardly pretty (some might even claim it an eyesore) but I found all that boxy repetition photogenic.

Link: The dMb Photography Blog – Hong Kong

Picture 174, Day 231 – Pudong Drizzle, Shanghai, China. October 22nd 2012

After Hong Kong it was time to take the overnight train north to Shanghai. It’s China’s largest city, something that’s hard to believe given that as recently as 1842 it would have passed for a sleepy fishing town. It was then that the British opened their first trading concession, realising the value of its position as the gateway to the Yangtze River. Others soon followed (the French, the Japanese) looking for their cut of the spoils & by the 1930s the city was the largest commercial centre in the Far East. The few days I spent in the city were dull, overcast & wet affairs. Conditions were difficult & viability poor at any time of day & night. That said I was happy with the shots I got (mostly at night – if I must shoot in the wet I prefer to do so at night. The above picture (not emm, taken at night!) shows the Shanghai landmark Oriental Pearl TV tower situated in the new Pudong area of the city. In 1990, when this whole area was boggy agricultural land, the government, in a bid to kick-start Shanghai’s development, decided to grant the area Special Economic Zone status. 22 years later & construction is still going on unabated. When I was last here in 2004 I blogged how there was a particular skyscraper under construction, the twin-towered Shanghai International Finance Centre, which, upon completion, would be the tallest building in the world. Well it’s built (and I took a stroll around the plush stores of its lower reaches), although these days it’s no longer the tallest building in Shanghai, let alone the world.

Picture 175, Day 232 – The Bund, Shanghai, China. October 22nd 2012

During Shanghai's riotous heyday under the British the colonial riverfront, the Bund, was the city's financial and commercial centre. Lined with grand edifices & particularly photogenic at night, the Bund waterfront is a vagabond assortment of neoclassical 1930 downtown New York styles & monumental antiquity. One of the most famous Bund buildings is the Customs House, illuminated above. The 1925 building is topped by a clock face modeled on Big Ben, the clock tower in London’s Houses of Parliament. I took this picture just before giving up for the night – I was soaked, as was my camera.

Picture 176, Day 233 – Hongqiao train station, Shanghai, China. October 23rd 2012

Nine minutes to departure of the high-speed Beijing-bound G12 train. The last time I travelled between Shanghai & Beijing was back in 2004 & I did so by the fastest possible train connection available at the time – a 15 hour overnight sleeper train. Now one can make the trip in 5 hours thanks to the new high-speed line linking the 2 cities. This is a picture I took just before boarding the Beijing-bound train in Shanghai’s shiny new (& way too big) Hongqiao train station. Topping out at over 300km/h, the new jewel of the Chinese railway provides a firsthand example of the newer & improving China wrapped in a nice, smooth 5-hour, €70 train ride.

Link: The dMb Photography Blog-Shanghai

What/Where Is Next?
We have one more week left in China. We’ll spend the most of it in the capital Beijing trying to organise onward travel through Mongolia & Russia. Plenty more to look forward to. We just have to organise it.

dMb Travel
Don’t forget you can keep up to date with my trip on the dedicated travel page of my photography blog, a page I set up to specifically chronicle this trip.

Until next time.
David M