This is a quick post on my recent travels to Hong Kong and my experiences while exploring this urban jungle. Known for its dense urban environment, hidden alleys, tight laneways and busy streets, it is obvious why Hong Kong is a haven for street photography. I traveled with my wife and together we visited a close friend of ours who was also kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule to take us around and point out some hot spots in Hong Kong.
I’ll be honest and say that I was reluctant to bring my zoom lens (16-55mm f2.8) and instead use the two primes (14mm & 27mm) however as it turns out I found myself reaching for the zoom lens a majority of the time. Given that both the primes had the same aperture of f2.8 and that the zoom lens only looses 2mm over the 14mm and combined with the weather resistance seals, it was obvious that the 16-55mm was more suited for the streets of Hong Kong as well as its unpredictable weather (similar to Melbourne). Despite the hefty weight behind the 16-55mm, the versatility and weather resistance outweighed this and there were a few occasions where I found myself shooting in light drizzle and just knowing that I can continue shooting without worrying about my gear is a great feeling.
If you’re a coffee lover like me then you won’t be disappointed, Hong Kong is littered with small pop-up cafes and the baristas here are amazing and take pride in their craft. So good are the coffee here that I’m prepared to go on a limb and say that it makes Melbourne coffee taste like McDonald’s instant coffee (yes it’s that good).
Since recent years Hong Kong has seen an increase in Expats (foreigners working in HK), this somewhat made me feel a bit more at ease when shooting the streets. Like in all my travel photos I want to capture more than just the streets, I want to capture the culture and lifestyle. To live in Hong Kong is to live in a fast pace environment, the sound of hundreds of footsteps can be heard each morning as people flood through narrow streets and into the subway stations, it’s an amazing sight to witness really it’s like an army of ants marching out of their burrows in search of food only these are hundreds of people. The same can be said during the mid-day rush as people once again flood the streets and restaurants for lunch.
It’s been 21 years since I last visited Hong Kong and so much had changed, there are now more high rise apartments, towers and skyscrapers than before. Many of which have their own unique style and architecture (makes for great photography) however, there are still parts of Hong Kong that have been left untouched to preserve heritage buildings. Hong Kong is also home to some of the tallest buildings, with approx. 1,290+ standing more than 100m with 300+ standing at 150m with the tallest being the International Commerce Centre standing at 484m.
One of the main attractions in Hong Kong is ‘The Peak’. From the observation deck, you’ll have a full view of Hong Kong city, those who’ve been will agree that the view is breathtaking but be sure to plan ahead as it is a popular tourist attraction and queues can be quite long also keep in mind the time of year. Unfortunately, for me The Peak was blanketed with thick mist and rendered the city invisible. However the mist also provides a mysterious and spooky feel and as a result, we were able to capture some great shots.
All wasn’t lost, fortunately, where I stayed had a rooftop view of the city so I was still able to capture some shots of the surrounding buildings and nightscape.
Overall we had a fantastic time in Hong Kong as we explored the streets and shopping districts as well as tasting all the tasty food – how can I forget the food. If I had to choose the highlight of the trip it would have to be food. At the end of each dish I was left wanting more, I’ve tried the various diverse cuisines that Hong Kong had to offer from simple local dishes to Spanish tapas, dumplings to premium steaks and coffee and desserts.
Getting around Hong Kong is easy and convenient almost everyone speaks and understands English. The Octopus card can not only be used on public transports but also doubles as a pre-paid direct debit card so if you’re craving a coffee at Starbucks or a battle of water from 7Eleven you can simply swipe your Octopus card (something that Melbourne’s myki should adopt). Despite the number of people rushing to catch the train there is a sense of order, this could be due to the dedicated lanes for people getting on and off the trains, the number of exit gates and touch on/off stations. Almost half the subway stations have a major shopping centre above and let me be the first to say that their shopping centres are massive with major brands from Europe and other parts of the world, so for all you shop-a-holics out there make sure visit Hong Kong especially if the exchange rate works in your favor.