May 15, 2015

{Los Angeles Photographer in Hong Kong: Victoria Peak}

Hong Kong central station is the craziest place I’ve ever seen. Imagine an aunt hill overflowing and headed to a packet of sugar, that’s the metro. If you’ve never been to Hong Kong or you’re scared of people, I’d steer clear from this station, at least during peak hours. You don’t even have time to people watch because everything is going by so fast. Through the large station and out on the J2 exit, I made my way to the street where signs pointed toward the Peak Tram. Katie had told me to sit on the right side for the best views. I was able to walk right through the long ticket line because I have an Octopus card. This thing is seriously amazing, it’s like a debit card, you simply add money to it and scan it over a reader wherever the card is accepted, which is pretty much everywhere-I even used it at Disneyland to buy something for my nephew Colton.

Seated in a wooden San Francisco trolley-esque type cart, you’re pulled up the hill in a 45 degree angle. Stopping quite frequently you can’t help but feel like you’re on a roller coaster approaching the big drop and praying it doesn’t slip backwards. In fact, that’s exactly how it is. Same angle. Same anticipation. The tram was packed and when I got off, I headed the opposite direction of everyone else to a sign marked, the peak circle walk on Lugard road. Thirty minutes on to the trail and I only saw Chinese people, this meant I was right where I wanted to be. I noticed an older man with a walking pole head up a set of stairs to the right of the main path, so naturally, I followed. The stairs were steep and headed up. At one point I passed the man until I came to a fork in the road. I awaited his arrival and motioned straight or up? He pointed up. I began walking up a path labeled, “Governors Path,” and came to the most serene lookout…at least I would imagine, all views were hidden behind thick clouds of pollution. Taking a moment to catch my breath, the elderly man had reached the top and walked over, “patience,” he said. Within 20 minutes the clouds of smoke had parted and I was able to capture some photos.

Mr. Wong, a 74-year-old man from Hong Kong walks this path from mid-city level, taking him 1.5 hours each way. Although he had not spoken English in 30 years, he was very easy to understand. For his age it surprised me, as most older Chinese men don’t know English. He told me the MTR has only been around for 30 years and when he worked in banking he would walk to and from work every day, noting that’s how he’s able to walk so much now. I told him, “my grandmother always used to say, ‘if you don’t keep these bones a movin’ they’ll quit on ya.'” I asked if many people come to this spot, he said no. It used to be a spot only for the governor but he has been coming there since he was a young boy. He asked how I got there, if I’d been there before, if I had a map. I told him I like to wander. He smiled and said, “I come up here to breathe. No one comes up here and I like to enjoy nature.” The happiest grin filled his face as he eagerly tried to tell me a wealth of information regarding the islands and Hong Kong. A 500 square foot apartment in the city costs 1 million.  He even told a story about a robber that dug a hole in the island to escape with goods. He told me he wanted to live to 100 and walking would increase that possibility. When I asked how long his father lived he sadly bowed his head and said, “He died at 49, I was a young boy and I don’t remember much.” He told me he had two daughters, both older than me. I asked if he knew how old I was and without hesitation said, 32. After sharing a packet of lemon filled ritz crackers (actually super good), I asked if I could take his picture, he happily agreed and then we parted ways. I continued along Lugard Road to see the most beautiful views of Hong Kong. This skyline is never ending. Back down the hill, through central station, on the MTR and then the light rail, I found myself at the Wetland Reserve for a few photographs.

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak-Stairs-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak-Circle Walk-1-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak-2-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak Garden-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak-1-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Mister Wong-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak Panoramic-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak-Circle Walk-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Victoria Peak-Copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Wetlands Lily-copy

Nicole Priest Photo-Wetlands-copy