Ordinary Wonders

back alley of a restaurant

It’s interesting how much more you photograph when you are in a foreign country. I think that if a similar scene presented itself here in the USA, I probably would pass it on by. I wonder why that is? Is the trick to good photography to train yourself to look at all the scenes around you as new and foreign?

Even looking back when I was in foreign countries, in the beginning I would scoff at taking photos of such scenes. I wanted to take cool scenes of people and what I thought people would like, and not what I found interesting. It wasn’t until I started wandering around by myself that I let my guard down about having to take ‘wow’ photos and just looking around and analyzing what I thought was intriguing.  Clicking the shutter almost became intuitive at that point. I also learned that every photo I looked at, I could remember the exact moment I took it and why I liked the scene.

So perhaps photography isn’t necessarily about taking that great photo, but to appreciate all that is around you.  Capturing the photo is just a tangible way to show everyone else.

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I’m sorry I haven’t been updating as much as I’d like. Life got in the way, and photographing subjects just isn’t as easy as it used to be. I yearn to get out there and do more. I am hopeful for 2013 and what treasures it will bring, and I will concentrate on my photography more. I’m going to go through my archives and see what I would like to share in the upcoming days/weeks.

Until then, Happy Holidays to you all and I look forward to all your creative works.

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Sha Tau Kok pt. 2

It’s been busy shipping and packing my life over to North America in about three weeks. My scanner is on its way to to USA so I’m either going to have to suck it up and wait to scan my backlog of film or try to get it done at my photo lab. Not sure how reliable that place is….

I’m also busy seeing everybody, friends and (extended) family! I haven’t cooked regularly for the last little and it’s been driving me and my diet nuts.

Anyhoo, here are more photos from my trip to Sha Tau Kok . It was so hard narrowing down photos from my last post! I’m a little sad that these mini explorations will soon be over for me. Any abandoned buildings for me to explore in the states? Anyone?

Some of the mailboxes around don’t look like they’ve been opened for years
loving the scarecrow!

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Sha Tau Kok

Inspired by David’s post, I took a little trip to Sha Tau Kok.  I wanted to not only explore the newly opened parts, but try to get to Zhong Ying street and go through that border into Shenzhen. It is one of the four border crossings onto Shenzhen, and apparently it used to be quite the place for illegal activity.

I took the mini bus at Sheung Shui station fully expecting to just get off at the last stop. Silly me forgetting some parts still needed a permit to get through.  The bus stopped right before the gates and a police man stepped on.  I quickly apologized and left the bus. Then to top it off, it started raining, and I did not have an umbrella with me. The whole trip wasn’t looking so promising.

Luckily, it stopped raining, but the humidity came…yuck.  The sky was grey and spitting but I after half of hour of walking I was pretty much ready to go. I think I ended up walking for about two hours because there was so much to see.  And I’m sure I still didn’t see all!

I walked around trying to find anywhere to head onto Zhong Ying street (briefly put, this is a street which borders Shenzhen and HK, and you can walk freely there, but you used to need a special permit but those, as far as I know, has been lifted.) but no avail, I accidentally wandered onto the road where cars/buses/trucks drive into Shenzhen, and got more questions from another police officer asking me where I was going.  Feeling semi-defeated, I walked towards the mini bus stop and found a little stand selling tickets into Shenzhen. Only cost 20 RMB. Bad thing was, they bypassed Zhong Ying street! Tried to ask if there was a way for a bus to take me there, but nobody knew.  Ended up going into Shenzhen and walking towards Zhong Ying street, and I would have had to cross immigration again if I wanted to walk there. Of course, I just ended up taking a bus home.

If you are up for looking at older areas in HK this is definitely worth a visit. If you do live in Shenzhen I`d recommend crossing from Louhu border then taking the mini bus.  The Sha Tau Kok border on the Shenzhen side is in Yantian district and takes some time to get there. It took me about 40 minutes to get back to the MixC in Louhu district without traffic. In my opinion the bus ride through Shenzhen is kind of boring as you`re just looking at highways, but in the HK side you get to see a bit of Fanling (which I hear has some interesting places to frequent as well)

Photos of Sha Tau Kok below:

Loads of abandoned buildings. This one had a second floor but I wasn`t about to risk it considering I had bad luck that day.
Loving the old bikes. They could do serious damage if they hit you!
I wonder how long it took this building to get like this?
If you see this intersection get off the bus, you’ll need a permit to enter from that point on.

If you are interested in seeing more, head over to part 2!

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My Class at Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

I was a bit nervous going yesterday to the Ashtanga yoga class because I wasn’t sure how I’d manage to do an hour and a half of it. Plus, I haven’t been practicing much as I’d like to lately and there are still lots of poses I haven’t attempted yet.  But, I promised myself I’d give this a try, and as a treat (because it is sooo darn expensive at 260 HKD!!!) I got myself a class this month.

Walking into the hotel I already felt like a swanky person.  Just something about walking beyond the concierge at  a five star luxury hotel just oozes awesomeness. Plus, five star hotels do this lovely thing where they pump a wonderful scent (Shangri-la does this, we luckily recieved a room scent hamper by a manager here and I feel like I’m in heaven every time we spray it on our sheets) and I was just in love.  I’m probably a bit silly this way, but I don’t care.

The yoga studio is on the fifth floor, which is part of the spa.  Now, if anyone has ever walked into a spa part of a five star hotel (yes, I keep mentioning this, but this was all I thought about, really!) you would know how awesome and calm it is. The staff were very friendly, and after I signed up an attendant kindly walked me through the change rooms and all that junk. Let just say that the showers are just fantastic! People who live in Asian countries can understand that when most of time you have water simply dribbling out of the shower head, it’s nice to have a nice shower with good water pressure. Oh and the towels! The towels!

Alright, I digress, but I just loooovvvvvvveeeee (did I mention love?) fancy towels and all things awesome from nice hotels. Let’s go on to the actual yoga studio and class.

The yoga studio is not large at all.I’d say max it’d hold about 15 people, which is fine by me. If I’m paying a lot of money for a class, I’d certainly want a more intimate setting.  The day I went there were about 6 people, so the teacher had plenty of time for adjusting and all that junk. Mats and towels are all set up for you, but I brought my own non slip yoga towel because I know I get sweaty palms. They also provide water, tea and fruit for you before and after your practice.

I forgot how much I enjoyed a yoga class. I know when I practice by myself I still struggle with keeping my mind focused and remembering the routine.  I felt comfortable with the led Ashtanga yoga class because I was able to concentrate on going into asanas and remember what was next.  The teacher (Siu Shan) was very nice, and asked questions and pushed me just enough to get me deeper into postures. There were some that I never knew I could do! I did certain poses and she asked me to do the full asana, and I felt elated when I was able to go in and out of them smoothly.  I also felt like I fed off the energy off the other students, and realizing I was able to do more than half the primary series makes me feel a sense of accomplishment.

I few things I learned from attending this class.

-A DVD can NEVER replace the guidance of a teacher, especially when trying new poses. I still enjoy Swenson’s DVD as a guide. I think next time I go I will ask the teacher to help me into a full headstand.

-Attending a yoga class really motivates me. I know I have to trek all the way to HK Central for this, but it’s worth it.

-I can do more than what I give myself credit for sometimes. I think this also translates into all parts of my life.

-I LOVE the ‘high’ I get after yoga class.

-There is nothing wrong with being sore the next day. It’s a sign I’ve worked my body good and hard.

-Be ready with LOTS of water to drink afterwards.

-I sweat a lot (haha!).

The verdict. I will DEFINITELY go again.  Aside from the fact that this is one of the only places with Ashtanga yoga classes (and the only one with certified teachers in Hong Kong), it is a nice setup, the staff are friendly, the ammenities are wonderful, and the teacher was nice.  Such a relaxing vibe, and I can’t help but giggle every time I walk out the door and there is a fancy doorman opening the door and greeting me. I’m weird I know.

You don’t need to register, just drop in about 15 minutes (or earlier, I went at about 30min before) and sign up.  You pay when you leave. For more information, check out their website.

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