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Posts tagged ‘Hong Kong’

A change of place

Just recently while discussing life the Universe and Everything with my peers in the USA it was brought to my attention that we will not be able to make the permanent move  to Asia just yet. It seems that my clients in the States are not comfortable with my being 10,000 miles and the relevant time difference away. I am somewhat saddened by this as I have really been enjoying my time in Asia and would love to delve deeper into the culture and language. Fanny and I had been planning a move to either Taipei or Hong Kong for the next 2 years.

Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy so what the clients want the clients will get. I cannot really fault the logic, after all I get paid well for my services and when they need the work it usually means they needed it yesterday… In reality its not easy working all night long for days on end and there have been some issues with communication.

What this means for the future is somewhat hazy right now as I have to figure out where we ” fanny and I ”  would like to be… The obvious choice is back to LA ” thats Los Angeles not Louisiana ” where I sit as I write this. By obvious I mean that Los Angeles is a place I enjoy living and it also is where the lions share of my work comes from for the Entertainment Industry. Other options are to make a go of it in Las Vegas Nevada or even stay here in Louisiana but I honestly can’t see that last one being attractive so most likely its back to the City of Angels. Since Fanny Is Taiwanese, there is no doubt that we will be going back to Asia often, it just will not be a permanent move until I can establish a revenue stream that  isn’t reliant on my physical location.

Over the next few months I intend to finally organize my huge collection of imagery captured in Asia over the last 4 years and share some more of it here on ecstaticpixel. I also plan on finishing all those draft post I have started but never got to complete.

Quick lil Movie

I had meant to include this in my last post, just a small movie from our bus ride. I used my Panasonic LUMIX  DMC-ZS19 and played with Imovie 9 for the editing. Needless to say its pretty crude as I don’t know how to do it well yet. I think I will start to do a bit more of this in the future, its fun and I think it may be able to convey the feeling of these places better then just my still photos.

Hope you like it 🙂

Rickshaw Bus in Hong Kong

Just Recently Fanny and I went to Hong Kong for a little weekend fun and to meet our friend David Gilbert for dinner. It seems like every time we go to HK  its a rushed thing and we never really get to see much of whats there. Hong Kong is a fascinating place full of unique culture and history well worth spending time to explore.

This time around we decided to try something fun and a bit silly. They have these double decker busses all over as part of Hong Kong’s excellent mass transit system with some being run by tourism companies specifically to tour the city. There are a number to choose from a quick internet search will find 5 or 6 excellent choices. The first we considered was The Big Bus followed up by the Rickshaw Sight Seeing Bus both of which offer various routes around the city with an open top viewing platform. We decided on the non plan plan technique and didn’t make reservations figuring we can decide while on the spot. I looked at the map and saw we can pick up the bus along the popular Avenue of the Stars a similar thing to the Hollywood Stars Walk of Fame in America. Its a very popular with tourist and plenty of locals as its right on the water and at night there is a great view of the huge downtown buildings all lit up at night. This a cool pic I fond on Wikimedia since the 2 times I have seen it my camera has been out of battery.

Hong Kong Symphony of Lights

We took the bus from Shenzhen that drops us off in Kowloon its cheaper then the limo service and since we aren’t carrying any luggage figured why not? Walking towards the waterfront we spotted a whole bunch of these boy scouts and their leaders, I am not certain but I think they are known as Queens scouts over here.

Scouts

Walking towards the waterfront we see some of the great Banyan tree’s lining streets here, recently I saw on the news where a number of them are so old they are in danger of falling and a few have with injuries to pedestrians . I hope the HK Goverment figures out how to solve this issue without removing them as they are really beautiful to me and remind me of the live oaks we have at home ” only smaller “…

Banyan Trees

You see cleaning people everywhere both on Mainland China and in Hong  Kong. Both men and women usually older folks they work very hard clearing the refuse from the streets. They seem to be much more successful at this in Hong Kong then on the mainland for some reason. I just liked her hat she seems to have solved both her sun block and rainy day issues.

Hat-Brella

As we find our way to the Avenue of Stars I am struck by something I really like about HK as opposed to China. This is a truly international place with people from all corners of the world, the closest thing to it in my experience is New York City. As a mixed couple Fanny and I are constantly under scrutiny in Shenzhen here very few even bat an eye.

Picture Time

Don’t know what this is about but have seen quite a few examples of it, possibly related to the land reclamation Hong Kong is doing to help alleviate their space needs or maybe even the maintenance of Victoria Harbor.

Crane Barge

Work Barge

After grabbing some Starbucks coffee at the end of the avenue we find a stand with brochures for the Big Bus, but not a place to buy tickets. I am also struck by something I missed during my online search. What I assumed was a price for the all day pass of 50 HK dollars was actually in US dollars. Now truth is thats not a terrible price for a fun activity but when the Rickshaw Bus offers almost the exact same service for 50 HK dollars the choice seems clear.I imagine the price difference is due to the marketing efforts Big Bus has done, nice website, great map showing the routes etc. I don’t like being taken advantage of and at 6 time the cost I cant help but feel its just that.The Rickshaw bus however is across the harbor so its a ferry ride for us. The ferry’s run constantly back and forth from Kowloon which is still on the mainland even though it is part of Hong Kong. Just recently there was a terrible accident involving a ferry with 29 deaths. This was on the ferry to Lamma Island which is about 2 miles away from HK. Considering the huge traffic here, Hong Kong has a good safety record and I am sure all the personnel here are now on high alert for safety.

Ferry Boat Sailors

I am pretty sure these are the same ferry’s we used when I was here in 1990 with the USN, strange to think that now 22 years later I am living here almost half the year.

Star Ferry

As you can see the harbor is very busy, ships boats and barges going every which way…

Harbor View

We survive our journey and now find ourselves on Hong Kong Island herself.

Landing

Almost right outside the ferry exit we find our target. The Rickshaw bus will take you on 2 routes around the island. One Route is called the Historical and the other the Metro since that all pick up right here it makes it easy to try both.With our ticket you can ride the bus all day and get off and on wherever it stops along the 2 routes, not bad for around  $7 US . Here you can see My lovely wife expressing her joy at our luck in finding this giant purple bus thing. I especially enjoy the themeing of our coach with its ” retractable ” top reminiscent of the rickshaws which used to be an important part of Hong Kong life.

Rickshaw Bus

Just some hooligan. The bus is comfortable and clean, not luxurious out here but after all this is exposed to the elements. The interior seating seemed very nice though…

Some guy on the bus

The strongest impression I always get of Hong Kong is the density. From up here its a very different experience to the street level, down there its so crowded and busy you get the forest and the trees syndrome. Its hard to capture this in a still image maybe an illustration would do it?

From On High

As we start off we pass the Apple Store at the IFC mall. It’s pretty obvious that Apple is huge here, from what I am told, this is mostly due to mainland Chinese tourist coming here to spend their new found wealth.

Apple Store Hong Kong

Another icon of Hong Kong for me is the bamboo scaffolding. It may seem strange to western eyes but when you consider the rapid growth, incredible strength and  flexibility of this stuff it just makes sense. can you say Green Initiative?

Bamboo Scaffolding

Our bus is a tour and it stops at specific places with historical or cultural signifigance. I took this picture at one of these stops which was supposed to be showing us a really old important building known for its bright blue color. Hmmm… do you see it?

Historical Stop

Oh, there it is… across the street and down a side alley

There it is…

I enjoy the bright colors you find here, it actually reminds me of the creole style houses in New Orleans.

Vibrant Color

The real ” Ancient Chinese Secret

Laundry Time

The streets are very crowded and hectic, this guy is directing the small silver van you can just see it there in front of the toyota and between the two work trucks eventually he got it right where he is standing…

Traffic Control

Hong Kong is under frantic construction its everywhere you look either renovation of old buildings or like this construction of gigantic housing units.

Under Construction

I get the feeling this shirt has been there awhile…

Camouflage

A neat view of one of the many street markets all over Hong Kong you can find just about anything for sale in these ” Traditional Markets ” Hong Kong, Taiwan and even Shenzhen all have in common an extreme Convenience factor. Because of the way the cities are laid out and due to high pedestrian traffic and little intrusion by large corporate chain stores basically all your daily needs can be served within walking distance of your home at small shops and stalls. Compare this to a typical US city where every thing is spread out over literally miles of territory.

Its very nice change I have to say the only downside I can see to it will be if you need to purchase something large or possibly rare, then you may not find it so easy. However there is also a very healthy amount of delivery service available so maybe its not even an issue then.

Street Markets

Another iconic detail of Hong Kong would have to be the great signs hanging out into the street. At night they add a festive air to the city and during the day they feel somewhat mysterious almost organic to me. I remember seeing something about the Government putting a limit on how many new signs can be added, I suppose there is some logic to this but for me I hope they don’t take them away.

As you can see below the bus is right underneath the level of these signs during our trip its quite exciting to see them whizzing by quite easily within reach of an outstretched hand. Another stark contrast to the more litigious minded USA. I guess here is Asia you need to keep your common sense about you and not expect the things to be made ” safe ” for you…

Low Hanging Signs

Seriously the hand you see outstretched here is of a seated woman, a tall man would certainly have quite a bad experience if he stood up right now…

Watch Your Head

They build them really tall and somewhat narrow here due to the limitations of space. Imagine how fun it must be to weather out a strong typhoon in one of those penthouses…

Apartment Building Hong Kong Style

Don’t know what the line is for but just wanted to point out the diversity in the crowd Hong Kong has long been a place where different cultures meet and honestly for me its a nice break from the mainland.

Everybody Likes a Line

This memorial is for all the local Hong Kong men ” and presumably women ” who served in the armed forces of great Britain during their long term stewardship of the island

Veterans Memorial

David ” who is English ” has told us that there is an effort underway to rename a lot of the British named streets and areas with more traditional Chinese designations. Again I hope they think twice about this whether or not Britain was correct in occupying Hong Kong it is a fact that they did and to erase the evidence will strip something unique from this place.

British Influence

Hong Kong Biker dude. You don’t see many real motorcycles over on the mainland for good reason and I am not sure I would feel comfortable with it here but its nice to see anyway.

Biker Hong Kong Style

These trolleys are all over as well. From what I know you can use the bus, trolley and metro all with whats called an octopus card, you load it with a certain amount of money and as you enter and exit mass transit the amount you have used is deducted. If you do run out of money its not a problem they don’t try and stop you its just up to you to replenish it before your next use.

In Taiwan they have a similar system and I know you can replenish your card at many places including the 7 / 11 stores, not sure if this is true in Hong Kong. For the taxi you will need cash and they are more expensive here then either China or Taiwan.

Trolly Time

Another example of that element of danger thing. I was touching this while we waited for the light to change. Its nice to be in a place where people are expected to take some personal responsibility for their own actions. This can be taken to far as well, on the mainland its literally up to you to watch out because no one else is going to…

Close By

Another Example

To me there is an almost surreal aspect to the bus ride experience maybe its the artist in me but I feel like this picture looks very much like a rendering of a themed ride something I might do for work…

Buy The Ticket Take The Ride

Covered Walkway

Hillside

Shiny Buildings

Did I mention these buildings are really tall?

Really Tall

Here is a great map I got off the Big Bus website it was actually quite helpful to me in figuring out where things are in the city.

Map Of Hong Kong Big Bus Tours

Next time I intend to go ahead and try out the Big bus and see if there is something in there worth the extra money.

Thats it for now, I have been meaning to try and catch up on my posting. I have been really busy recently so can’t complain but I would like to document some more of what I have seen here especially as fanny and I will be heading back to the States soon for a period of time to be determined.

Late Night Flight

This year for Chinese New Year we will be in Taipei Taiwan. This is my second New Year in Taiwan and I am looking forward to it as I enjoy Taipei greatly and it will be a nice break from Shenzhen. We are going a bit early in order to give us time to take care of some things we need to do. Every year around this time travel in China becomes very congested as just about everyone is traveling home, I have seen it claimed that this is the single largest human migration in the world. To avoid complications, instead of flying straight from Shenzhen we have booked flights out of Hong Kong, the price is literally half that of a flight from the mainland 3400 RMB or around $525 US for both of us. Our flight leaves at 10:30 pm so we need to get to the border early in case of the almost certain delays. We will leave from Shenzhen bay to avoid having to carry our bags through customs especially important as I have packed my Cintiq in order to work while we are there.

. Taking the higher priced shuttle van is a must right now but in truth for Westerners its still quite a bargain our tickets cost us 150 RMB apiece or approximately $25 US well worth it for the convenience.

Waiting For the Van

Our wait is a bit longer then usual due to congestion at the border but we eventually are loaded in and on our way to Hong Kong. Unfortunately due to the strange relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong just getting in the vehicle has little to do with how quickly you get anywhere. After loading, the driver takes everyone’s passports and cues us into the line to clear China border security. The majority of vehicles in line are other ” Limo ” service vans usually late model Toyota mini vans with dual licenses plates, Full size Busses and the occasional wealthy Hong Kong resident. Everyone has to cue and go through the security checkpoints on both sides; mainland China and then about 50 meters after that , Hong Kong. The border agents take their jobs seriously so its advisable to give yourself a wide margin on time. A note for Westerners if your passport photo doesn’t look exactly like you anymore expect to be questioned on it.

Shenzhen Bay

This time through we spend a full hour getting past the mainland Chinese only to wait another half hour for Hong Kong its quite possible we will miss our flight as we still have a good half hour to 45 min drive to the airport. Fanny and I discuss this in English which of course our driver being from Hong Kong understands. Spending any amount of time in China tends to instill in people the need to be a bit manipulative at times and this time its paying off as our driver is making good time.

Moving At Last"

Our driver did really well and although time is tight we will not miss our flight. The airport is actually not too bad but then again it is 9:30 at night. After checking in we grab a coffee and await our plane in a terminal I have not seen before. Hong Kong’s airport is really quite amazing and someday I hope to have the chance to spend some free time here just looking…

HK Terminal

Our Flight leaves at 10:30 which means we will be getting in around midnight in Taipei. Strangely enough the flight is only about half full, this is probably due to the time and the fact that we are traveling a full 4 days ahead of the business men who work in Shenzhen but live in Taiwan. As you can see from the little flight map display Taiwan is actually quite close to the mainland something which makes their independence from China a loaded subject. The presidential elections are to be held very soon and the biggest challenge to the current leader of Taiwan is a female candidate who seems to want to take a much more hard line position with China, not sure if thats a good idea at the moment…

Flight Path

While in flight I read an interesting article about the lantern festivals that take place in Taiwan for New Years, I really want to see this sometime. This whole thing is really fascinating to me on a cultural level. I have never seen so many people fully commit to an event. The entire country and in fact most of Asia puts itself on hold for almost a full month. This is really amazing considering the current state of economics around the world. I have noticed closed shops in Lian Tang for the last week at least and at the same time you see long lines of people waiting to buy tickets home.  In 2008 the number of travelers during the season exceeded China’s population at 2 billion I assume this means there will be even more now. The fact that so many people in China are now living and working far from their family homes makes for some serious congestion.

After arriving safely in Taiwan we make our way to the shuttle bus area which has recently been redesigned. One of the nice features of Taiwan is an abundance of cheap and convenient transport options. We will be traveling to Taipei on a shuttle service run by the airport and I assume subsidized by the government. The service is quite nice and at 150 NT or $5 US  just you cant beat it.

New Development

The waiting area is relatively empty due to the time. Its right at midnight but the busses are still running. These girls are enjoying a quick game of something while they wait.

Playing Cards

I really enjoyed the design in here, the low ceilings and stone columns make me think of a Stanley Kubrick film

Ticket Counter

A view from outside shows more of this design sense. Taipei’s airport is currently undergoing a great deal of new construction should be interesting to see it when completed.

Patient B waiting

I really am happy to have my panasonic camera back in action the digital zoom works well especially considering the low lighting…

Closeup B

The buses are quite good, comfortable and spacious this one doesn’t show it but many of them are lit up like mobile christmas trees with neon and led lights. I am not sure why this is but it makes for cool visuals and its something I am getting accustomed to the longer I stay in Asia.

Not Our Ride

We have to wait for awhile longer as this will be the last bus tonight and will be full of passengers and airport employees. The man standing in the aisle here is one of the employees off from his shift and seemed quite friendly and talkative. This is another thing I really appreciate about Taiwan, the people here are very polite and approachable in sharp contrast to the mainland Chinese.

The trip to Taipei will take almost an hour which makes this comfortable bus very welcome to the weary traveler.

Nice Bus

These are some pics I took from the bus, I love Taipei at night there is something magical about it, a perfect place for me as I tend to be a night owl anyway…

Golden Lights

Numbers

Night Street

Tomorrow we must get up early as there are many things we want to accomplish while here and with New Year fast approaching we will not have any time to waste.

 

 

Busy Weekend day 2

The second half of our busy weekend will take us on a short journey to Hong Kong where the intention is to purchase an Ipad 2. I had the opportunity to mess around with a friends recently and I believe I can use this in my work as a portable sketch pad / presentation tool. I currently have two main working setups the first is of course my main studio back in the states where I occupy the entire living room of the house. Since space is not an issue in addition to my traditional analog equipment I have 2 loaded G5 mac towers, 2 large monitors a 20WSX Cintiq  and assorted scanners printers etc…

Home Studio

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