There are 9000 high-rise buildings in Hong Kong. I photographed these in the spring of 2009. Dave had just bought me a brand new camera for a trip I was going to make to Israel with my students. I was setting off on my Sunday morning walk and I decided to bring my new camera along and experiment with it by taking photos in my Hong Kong neighbourhood. The area of Hong Kong where we were living at the time was called Tai Wai. In my neighborhood bikes were very popular and there were designated cycling paths. See the scaffolding over the biker’s head? Bamboo scaffolding is the main method used to build skyscrapers in Hong Kong. It only takes about a day to put up a 1000 foot tall scaffold. Bamboo is so much cheaper, easier to transport, safer, and faster to build with than iron rods. You only need bamboo rods, scissors and plastic straps to build a scaffold. Hong Kong uses about 5 million bamboo rods a year. You will see folks exercising together in almost every public space in Hong Kong. In order to beat the heat the early morning is very popular with senior Hong Kong citizens who faithfully congregate sometimes by the hundreds to do exercise routines and socialize with one another.
As you can see they take their exercise very seriously. Ever since the SARS epidemic in 2003 Hong Kong has worked hard to become a cleaner looking city. Heavy pedestrian areas are manually swept and hosed several times a day. Street sweepers must be able to pick up 50 kg. of garbage and carry it ten meters before they are hired.You can read more about Hong Kong’s street sweepers in an article I wrote about them for a travel website called Things Asian. Most apartments in Hong Kong don’t have clothes dryers and so people hang their bedding out to dry wherever they can. This bridge across a waterway just outside my apartment building was a popular place to air sheets and carpets and quilts. No one seemed to worry about their laundry being stolen. One in seven people in Hong Kong may be a millionaire but the city is also home to nearly one and a half million people who live below the poverty line. You actually are supposed to register to sleep on the street or in public places in Hong Kong and some 2000 people do so every year. Hong Kong has more than 600 temples for Buddhist worshippers. Although Hong Kong is considered one of the safest places in the world to live, many apartment buildings have fences topped with barbed wire around them and all of them are patrolled by security guards who monitor everyone entering a building. Especially on a Sunday morning it was not at all unusual to see men taking their pet birds out for a walk. Often they are headed to a neighborhood meeting place where they will take the covers off their birds’ cages, hang them up on poles or trees and then settle in nearby to play mahjong with their buddies. This is a mini bus and they are a mainstay of Hong Kong’s excellent transportation system. Trains and double decker buses take you between major points in the city but it is the 4350 mini buses that can transport you virtually right to your door. The drivers aren’t known for their caution so when we lived there a mini bus ride could be something of an adventure. I have read however that just after we left speed alarms that activate at 80 kilometers an hour were installed in these buses and there are now speedometers on the interior ceiling, adjacent to the driver’s seat, facing passengers, so they can monitor the driver’s speed.Hong Kong is home to more than 50 museums and the The Hong Kong Heritage Museum was not far from our house. It was an excellent place to visit and I can recall any number of memorable exhibits I toured there during my years in Hong Kong. You can read another article I wrote for the Things Asian travel site about a Cantonese opera workshop I attended at the Heritage Museum.
I am currently combing through my photo libraries and deleting pictures and it is proving to be a very rewarding task especially on days like this when my weeding process takes me back for a nostalgic walk in my old Hong Kong neighborhood.