May 14, 2015

{Los Angeles Photographer in Hong Kong: Tai O Fishing Village, Victoria Harbour}

I knew sleeping would probably be an issue but I used the early morning wake up call from my body to my advantage  and headed out the door to visit the Big Buddha. When I got to Tung Chung by 7:30 and noted that the cable cars didn’t begin until 10, I was on a mission to find another way up the mountain.  I found a bus with the lane, “Buddha” and boarded only to have an elderly Chinese man shake his hand and head, no. Apparently that was a tour bus of some sort. I was able to find a bus headed to the Buddha but it didn’t leave until 8:30. Nearby was a bus Tai O leaving at 7:50so in essence of time, I opted to visit the fishing village first and then head up to see the Big Buddha.

There’s something called an Octopus card, it’s great, you load money on it at the MTR station and it can be used for everything. Transportation, food, vending machines. I grabbed a quick breakfast and boarded the bus. Typically I aim to not look like a tourist when traveling but when you’re the only white person on a bus, the secret is out.

Once in Tai O I walked along the path to a quaint little fishing village/market. Multiple vendors with their goods out for sale, the pleasant smell of fish encompassed the alleyway. As I walked further away from the village, I found a path toward the hills with a sign, WHITE DOLPHINS. Venturing up the stairs, it was just me and whatever wildlife was present. Various birds and butterflies I had never seen before. The heat here is no joke. You’d sweat profusely standing still, let alone hiking up ancient staircases. Reaching the top I looked to my right to see four white dolphin, hold your excitement, statues. I had to chuckle. I was expecting live mammals and this was what I saw instead. The view from the top was well worth the lack of dolphins. You could see the smoke from whatever was being burned in the villages below. I wandered off the beaten path but noticed there wasn’t much more to photograph so I returned to the stairs and headed down. Tai O was unique. I’d be putting it lightly by describing the smell as a combination of rotten fish and wet dog. The people were amazing to watch in their daily routines but I dare not photograph them. I rarely capture people while traveling and it’s not necessarily by choice. I love people, their expressions, the stories their eyes tell, their withered hands and facial demeanor yet at the same time I feel incredibly offensive to simply steal a photograph of them. I’d want to let them know something about their presence inspired me or touched me, that I wasn’t just taking a picture but all too often I lack the ability to communicate with them so I lock the image in my memory and move on.

On to Ngong Ping, a short bus ride dropping you off at the top of the Buddha. For 38HKD I walked to the top of the Buddha, and included in the price was an ice cream and water. Signage pointing toward a ‘Wisdom Path’ directed me to a beautiful look out and some form of a circle with posts written in Chinese. The locusts were so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think. Through to the monastery I stopped to eat a spring roll and some peanut dumpling which was…different. I paid the 115HKD ($15) to ride the cable car down the mountain. The views were gorgeous. There was a pathway below which makes me believe I could have walked it somehow but being on a schedule and lacking water, I’d say I chose the better option.

The MTR to Disneyland is decked out in Mickey face window cut outs, statues of Disney characters and Mickey Mouse hand rails. Katie met me at the front and walked me in the park. Being only ten years old, the park is pristine. You feel as if you’re walking on a movie set and because it was a slow day, it was as if the park was reserved just for us. We began by watching the Lion King, such a great performance and then went on to ride a few rides before she left to get ready for her show. Not many rides are the same as California, they have a Toy Story and Iron Man land.  Their Space Mountain however  is WAY better than the one in CA. The longest line I stood in was 5 minutes, so I did a few rides twice. The heat is gnarly and yet these women dress up in dresses and heels. Katie’s show, The Golden Mickeys began at 6 and these people go crazy for this show lining up an hour before. I told one of the guys that my friend was Belle and he let me line up first. We met her husband Sam at a really good ramen place over by the harbor and finished the night with some shots of the breathtaking skyline.  This city sure knows how to give a good night view!

 

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