Hong Kong 8
This time with two kids
This is our eighth trip to Hong Kong.
Helen has family in Hong Kong so we mostly go back to visit and
eat out. My total time in Hong Kong is now in the three
months range so my sense of novelty (which is worth taking a
picture of) has changed quite a bit since my first trip.
Flying to Hong Kong
For a number of reasons, we didn't book
our flights until quite close to the dates. We decided to go
with Air Canada instead of Cathay. How do they compare you
ask? The staff on Cathay are younger and more energetic but
the seats don't lean back. Air Canada will sell anything for
a dollar so good luck getting a bassinet seat. I was
surprised to see a flight crew member of Air Canada sleeping in a
passenger seat, but strange things happen.
When flying 13 hours with two young kids, you really need a
plan. Helen did a great plan ensuring we had in flight
entertainment (everything from sticker books to ear muffs).
When it was sleeping hours the kids did sleep, but they didn't
sleep well. Previous trips we have been thrown up on so this
trip we packed extra clothes for us in our carry on.
Thankfully we didn't need them as Nara could communicate well
enough that the barf went in bags.
The Wholesale Fruit Market
If you are arriving from the North American
side of the planet, you will find you wake up at about 2 in the
morning local time and getting back you bed is hard. With
two children, getting back to bed is impossible. With the
Wholesale fruit market just down the street, there is something to
do with that weird time - go see some fruit!
All over Hong Kong you will find small
outdoor vendors selling fruit and vegetables. As I
understand it, some of these stalls are actually quite lucrative
but they sell relatively small quantities (a case or two of
oranges a day). The wholesale market sells to this street
vendors. Huge chain stores (like Welcome and ParknShop)
aren't purchasing here.
The market appears to have several dozen vendors, some carying a
wide variety of products, some caring just a few. Often the
same product (Durian from Thailand) is sold at multiple
vendors. I suspect this market is quite like the markets
that economics textbooks use as models.
There are always surprises in what is for
sale. Japanese style gift melons (with Japanese branding),
grown in the USA, sold in Hong Kong surprised me. I can't
see how a gift melon is used in a restaurant so I'm assuming
people are buying them for personal use. Who knows.
I really like the Asian tropical fruit
available fresh in Hong Kong. Fresh durian is real treat for
us so we are always on the look out for what is for sale in the
fruit markets. For some reason, middle eastern fruits seem
out of place to me (pomegranates, figs, lemons) but they do sell
and even some of the smaller street markets do have them
Mysteries aside, the kids had a good time. The shop keepers
were curious why we had our kids out, but once Helen explained the
Jet Lag situation, they were very nice. Nara wound up with a
nice mango from one of the vendors.
Always looking for something new to do, we
found a flower show at Victoria Park. Admission was cheap
but the last day of the show was the first day we arrived.
The show turned out to be a sales job for various local
landscaping companies and florists much like the "HomeShow" in
Vancouver, but it was still worth the time to visit to see the
huge displays. I believe that getting sun helps your brain
adapt to local time.
Family, Family, Family
We are in Hong Kong to visit Helen's mothers
family. More accurately, we there to provide support to our
children so they can visit their great grandparents - if we don't
bring the kids, they don't really want to see us. We are
okay with that - it's like stumbling onto an unpaid bill that is
well overdue - you just have to adapt to the changing
Nara has been to Hong Kong three times but
this is Claira's first trip. Everyone likes to see a baby
and Claira proved adaptable to the changing people and
environment. She pretty quickly figured out how to interact
with people and comfortable places to hang out.
This is Nara's third trip, but I don't
think she really remembers the earlier trips. We have looked
at pictures from those trips, but at first she thought those were
photos of Claira. Just the way things work out, this Nara
happened to start potty training a few weeks before our
trip. Amazingly, the Great Grandparents still had the potty
that Helen trained on and Nara was quite happy to use it. We
tried to get similar foods (Yogurt, fruits even humus) to what
Nara had in Vancouver to try and ease the transition. Nara
didn't like soy milk, but she really liked the roast pork.
She wouldn't try durian and we had a tough time getting her to eat
vegetables, but she was keen to have the Hong Kong style
breakfasts (sausage and macaroni in soup). She was a
Of course with visitors, there were enough
people to play mahjong. Mahjong is one of the Great
Grandparents favorite pastimes so it was pretty common to see the
table out and tiles washing. Of course it is hard to
play mahjong and babysit at the same time Claira got more
attention between rounds.
There is still lots in Hong Kong I have
never visited. Ocean Park is something like a cross between
a Zoo, an Aquarium and an Amusement Park. It's on the far
side of Hong Kong Island (we took a minibus to Aberdeen and then a
taxi to the gate) and it is quite large. Because we had wet
weather we wound up going on the Friday before a long weekend
(Easter). The thinking was that the locals would be out of
town for the long weekend so it would be quiet. It was a
nice theory, but we didn't take into account the busloads of
tourists from Mainland China.
We started with the aquarium. It was
a dark which is always challenging for photos.
Next up was the Panda Enclosure.
When you first see the panda you think it's a man in a panda
suit. Their eyes seem very human. I was also impressed
with the massive number of number of people that can be moved past
Ocean Park is split over two sites - the
road accessible starting area and the gondola peak area. We
took the gondola up to the peak. I was impressed to see two
gondola systems running in parallel, but I'm sure this is the
obvious solution when you have to continuously scale up.
At the top of the mountain are several
more aquarium type exhibits. Nara was really struck by the
seals exhibit. These seals (Spotted Seals - Phoca largha)
seem very similar to the seals around Vancouver (Harbour Seal -
Phoca vitulina) but we don't get to see them under water.
There were lots of other exhibits - Walrus, Penguines, Artic Foxes
and more, but to our young kids, it eventually became
I think we should have got money from the park as we turned into a
mini-attraction. One more than one occasion people took
photos of me carrying Claira.
Street Details in Hong Kong
has so many amazing details, it is really hard to not just be
overwhelmed by the differences. We normally stay in Mong Kok
(a busy neighborhood on the mainland side of the Hong Kong) and
there is a ton of local details. Every time I go to Hong Kong,
I see things I wish I had taken photos of. This is me trying
to pick them up.
On Nara's first trip (she
was 6 months old
), I took out my widest angle lens, fixed
the focus distance and took photos from the shoulder with Nara
strapped into the carrier. Framing is at best approximate
- you shoot, chimp and try better on the next shot. It
was a fun photo shoot. I thought I would try the same thing,
but my new camera didn't fit my old wide angle lens so the photos
turned out to be more difficult to frame.
Most of the markets and street level stores have lighting to put
their products in the best light. This lighting helps because
your child is also lit up. My first series were shot at night
- these ones were shot during the day. The outcome is mostly
Claira is a
bit of an attention hog when we go out. You don't see that
many babies when you are out walking (at home with the nannies I
assume) and halfy kids are even more rare so a lot of shop people do
like to chat when you show up.
Hong Kong Markets are full of amazing
details to see. Even if you have your hands full of kids,
you see things you want to take photos of. I especially like
the older carts and stalls and people with novel ways of
presenting things. There are always details to see.
Sunsets can be amazing in Vancouver, but they
are shorter and more difficult to photograph in Hong Kong.
First, the city streets are often in shadow and dominated by the
local lighting. Second, because of the atmospheric pollution,
the sunset is often quit dim before the sun even hits the
horizon. One day we happened to luck out with a rain storm
(cleaned the air) in the afternoon which finished before
sunset. Sunset was actually quite beautiful.
We are staying quite close to a number of
classic Hong Kong sights - the bird market, the flower market and
pet store street. Of course I have visited many times in the
past, but it's still worth going by to see what is going on and
there are photographic opportunities.
Nara and I visited the flower market but we
didn't really dwell to see flowers. Later Helen and I brought
both daughters to see the pet store street but it was very busy so
parenting and taking photos was a challenge. As the kids get
older, I'm sure we'll go back and visit again.
When you travel, I believe you should do the things you enjoy when
you are at home. Nara quite enjoys the playground in
Vancouver so she was quite happy to see playgrounds in Hong
Kong. There are actually quite a few playgrounds around Mong
Kok so Nara had choices of where to play. I quite liked how
the playground was completely dwarfed by the residential buildings
New place for me - Helen's Grandparents live quite close to Kwong
Wah hospital. We discovered there is a museum in a courtyard
in the hospital so Nara and decided to go investigate.
The museum inside has some interesting artifacts from when the
hospital opened a long time ago.
things come to an end. Mercifully, the flight home is about
two hours shorter than the flight to Hong Kong. We also booked
an overnight flight which meant the kids did sleep for some number
of hours. It was great to be home but the quietness of
Vancouver reminds you that you will want to go back.
Tags: Hong Kong(33), fruit market(13), fruit(8), market(6), street photography(4), playground(4)
People: Claira(21), Nara(18), Great Grandmother Yuen(3), Great Grandfather Cheung(2), Helen(1), Jennie(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Hong Kong 8
Last Modified Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 at 21:26:53 Edit
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