As with most days so far, my day began with a mixed Asian-Western breakfast. Fully fueled and geared up, I took an Uber to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.
The reason I chose to visit the park on a Sunday was due to a local Hong Kong phenomenon which happens on this specific day of the week. It is the only day off for the 300+ thousand predominately female migrant domestic workers. Most are either from Indonesia or the Philippines. They meet with their friends and sit in groups on makeshift cardboard mats or plastic nylon.
Victoria Park is considered the epicentre of their congregations. Apart from the main pathways in the park, practically any spot on the ground transforms into sitting space for the countless groups of women who chat, eat, ‘face time’ and listen to music.
These gatherings were hardly contained in the park alone. EVERYWHERE I wandered to presented similar scenes of gatherings, whether the floor space was a bridge overpass, traffic islands between busy roads, in front of luxury shops and hotels or everywhere else you can imagine. It was a strange sight to behold. I bet that these migrant workers believed that I was filming a documentary about them.
Beyond Victoria Park, I spent the first half of the day filming around Causeway Bay. To say that the area was overflowing with people is an understatement. Shoppers from all walks of life and background were busy spending money and carrying around their bags of goods, purchased in the area’s large department stores / shopping malls such as Sogo, Hysan Place and Times Square.
I was looking forward to my chosen spot for lunch. I have been told by several people that the Taiwanese restaurant chain of ‘Din Tai Fung’ is a must when visiting Hong Kong. Since I was in Causeway Bay, I chose that restaurant branch. The meal was slightly expensive but VERY good, especially their signature dish of ‘xiaolongbao’ (steamed dumplings). I can only wish that the restaurant someday open locations in Canada.
Following my excellent meal, I boarded the tram, known locally as the ‘Ding Ding’. This slow moving, early 20th century mode of transport, operated by HK Tramways, is very convenient to use if traveling along the north side of Hong Kong Island.
It was very busy on Sunday but I somehow managed to grab the front row seat on the top deck of the double decker tram. It proved to be the ideal location to film from. The Freefly Movi M5 stabilizer truly shines when the operator is stationary, while filming from a moving vehicle. The camera captured daily life along Causeway Bay and Wan Chai’s Yee Wo street, Hennessy, and Johnston roads.
Approaching my stop, I nearly took a dive down the tram stairs due to a sudden decrease in acceleration and barely managed to squeeze my way out of the jam packed transport. I once again found myself on the streets of Wan Chai and continued to film the afternoon hectic rush. Satisfied with the amount of footage, I made my way on foot on Queensway towards the Admiralty business sector.
The comparatively low-rise buildings of Wan Chai were gradually replaced by the modern skyscrapers of Admiralty. 30 minutes of walking and filming got me to Tamar Park, another great spot to relax and enjoy the surrounding views of the skyscrapers and harbour. Sunset came and went and for the first time since my arrival, it started to rain.
It did not take very long for the light rain to stop, only to trickle down again every once and while. I made my way towards the heart of Central, Statue Square. The occasional light rain and the illuminated futuristic looking buildings made me feel as though I am on a set of some science fiction film.
Apparently, the area around Statue Square is quite the popular spot for professional photo shoots at night since I came across the second one in so many days.
I hopped on the Ding Ding back to Wan Chai and got off at the same station I have boarded several hours earlier. The torch illuminated ‘Pawn’ building, with its swanky restaurant by the same name, made for some excellent background footage of Johnston road.
For decades, Hong Kong has been renowned for it’s neon illuminated streets by night, a big draw for visitors and a large influence on science fiction writers and film directors. A major goal of mine for this travel video was to capture Hong Kong’s retro-chic neon glow by night.
However, The local HK government have been phasing them out due to environmental reasons, light pollution and energy inefficiency. LED lights, while much more efficient, simply do not have the warmth and look of neon. I feel that Hong Kong has lost an iconic part of itself. I did my best to capture what I could on video. My guess is that within a few years, the signs seen in this travel video shall be gone as well, the nicer ones finding a home in a museum. The rest, immortalized only in photos, films and video.
Neon signage can still be found. For the most part, the signs are concentrated in certain enclaves. In Kowloon, businesses in TST, Yau Ma Tei and Mongkok still advertise themselves using neon. On Hong Kong island, Wan Chai is the main district to find them. Spring Garden lane has a very cool looking neon sign. The bar district of Lockhart road has the largest concentration of neon signage in Wan Chai. Although the days of Lockhart road serving as a hard core red light district have passed, there are still several raunchier establishments there. Suzie Wong was not to be found though. The area certainly has cleaned itself up, for the most part.
It was already late and I had an early morning ahead of me. I hailed an Uber and returned to my small space of privacy at the hotel.