Mapopo: A farm amid Skyscrapers

mapopo_farm_01      Mapopo Community farm sits unassumingly beside a busy road in Fan Ling, a town in the New Territories of Hong Kong. At the entrance to the farm is a small stand selling fresh vegetables, locally made body products, a number of imported organic dry goods, and a few varieties of craft beer.

     If you follow the blue line on the paved path, it will take you through the village, called Ma Shi Po, to a wide cloudy river where young men fish from a 100 meter bridge. The village is comprised of small farms where elderly women hoe new roes in the dirt and elderly men ride past on bicycles stocked with seeding flats. I met a number of friendly dogs and goats beside the path who roamed together in a grassy field. At the end of the blue line I watched two young men catch fish in a net beside a sign that stated “no fishing” then headed back the way I came to buy some Choi Sum and Bak Choi at the Farmstand. There are a number of farms like this in Fan Ling that I intend to stop at next time I have a day to spend in the ‘countryside’ where there are still 14 story in plain sight.

     Mapopo is engaged in a fight with Hong developers who have forcefully removed villagers in the past, and intend to do so again. The plots where forced evictions occurred are overgrown and vacant. Mapopo hopes to preserve the 3rd generation farming village of Ma Shi Po despite developers plans to build more standard housing on the ground they have made rich with years of composting and sustainable farming practices. Only 7 square kilometers of land in Hong Kong are made up of actively farmed land, Mapopo says they simply want to keep their small part of that to preserve the lifestyle they have worked hard to keep.


Nan Lian


     Nan Lian in Diamond Hill is an ideal traditional Chinese garden with immaculately kept grounds, golden roofed temples, and a tea house that sits over a quaint pond adorned in Lilly pads. I went to the garden just before sunset, as the light was streaming in perfectly, lightly dusting every surface with gold. I haven’t taken photographs  of anything other than people in a while, and this was the perfect place to stray from that and go back to the way I shot when I was younger, with a simple sense of wonder towards my surroundings, not exactly looking for a moment but rather for a composition that was interesting to me all on its own.


Wan Chai

Wan_Chai_01 “Contrast” this was what Chris and I dubbed our attempts to do things differently and not simply stick to the things we knew and liked while we were in Hong Kong. We spent 25 days in Sheung Wan then decided to mix up our HK experience by moving to another neighborhood four subway stops away. At the bottom of Happy Valley, Wan Chai is a very wet neighborhood steeped in liveliness. In the past it was nick-named Hong Kong’s red light district. I wouldn’t have guessed from my experiences there, but I was not out and about late into the night. Not every image in this post was taken in Wan Chai, some are from nearby places like Aberdeen and Central that we walked to during our contrast stint in Wan Chai. Wan_Chai_02Wan_Chai_03Wan_Chai_04Wan_Chai_05Wan_Chai_09Wan_Chai_12Wan_Chai_15Wan_Chai_16Wan_Chai_17

Lantau Island

Lantau_01     Mui Wo is a small village on the less developed Eastern side of Lantau Island. You take a 40 minute ferry from Central Hong Kong, and debark in a small windy fishing town. We stopped at a seaside market where we chose our own fish to be fried and 10 minutes later we were eating fish, prawns, and fried eggplant, and washing it down with cold Tsingtao. We hiked up in to the mountains, passing a rather unusual graveyard, multiple racks of fire beating sticks, and many tropical plants that reminded me of Hawaii.

The walk back to the ferry led us though the main part of town which seemed desolate in a way after Hong Kong, in the way that a seasonal town is in the off season. There were fancy-ish three story houses mixed in with dilapidated shacks and overgrown banana trees. Perhaps for no other reason than my growing up in a small beach town on a tropical island, something about Lantau felt not barren, but warmly familiar to me.


Shek-O Coast

      Shek_O_08      If you take a bus towards Shek-O, the semi-fancy beach town on the South East side of Hong Kong Island, you will pass numerous signs for small villages dotting the windy coastal road. These signs ignited my curiosity, so I jumped off the bus a few stops before Shek-O and made my way down a steep incline to the tiny village of Lan Nai Wan Tsuen.

     An irrigation trail lining the coast led me past abandoned homes covered in Banyan roots and meagre spray paint. The only other people I saw was a group of men working for the irrigation dept. fixing a pipe and an elderly couple watching over the town temple – the only well-preserved building to speak of.

     There were signs of a life left behind, surf boards and kayaks decaying beside the cracked cement docks, small buildings being taken over by Mangrove, the mattresses still inside the rooms. The place seemed to have been abandoned in an instant, yet a few simple houses across the bay were clearly still occupied – dogs on the roof, smoke coming from the backyard, and a flourishing garden irrigated by the nearby stream.Shek_O_02Shek_O_03Shek_O_04Shek_O_05Shek_O_06Shek_O_07Shek_O_01

返工 At Work

HK_Work_01    Last week I caught the MTR into Sham Shui Po on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong to take pictures of a rather unique neighborhood. I focused on photographing people at work in their tiny spaces that appear unsystematic to the untrained eye, however I have no doubt that there is a highly organized map in the minds of the shopkeepers and handymen that affords them their efficiency. Though I speak no Cantonese, the men and women in the Sham Shui Po neighborhood did not shy away from my camera. They often waved or offered a simple smile, as did I, then I was on my way. I plan to return to this neighborhood with a method of communication that allows me to ask them the questions that arose in my mind as I watched them work. HK_Work_02 HK_Work_03 HK_Work_04 HK_Work_05 HK_Work_06 HK_Work_07 HK_Work_08 HK_Work_09 HK_Work_10

食品 The Markets

HK_Food_01      Until a few months ago I had been a vegetarian for about 14 years. Upon coming to Hong Kong  I have eaten things like steamed pork buns, Yakatori chicken, and various dumplings I was sometimes unsure of the content of.. Being in a place where these things are a part of the culture, the way of life pulsing around me, I feel more okay with consuming it than I have before. Every street I walk down here has flesh hanging in some window, maybe an entire goose, maybe fish swimming in a tiny tank. People live in tiny apartments here. They eat out. They eat in parks, they eat together. These are the markets, as vibrant and social a step as any. The wet markets are loud and colorful, and they go well into the night as the city does.  HK_Food_02 HK_Food_03 HK_Food_04 HK_Food_05 HK_Food_06 HK_Food_07 HK_Food_08 HK_Food_11

街 Hong Kong Street

HK_Street_01 Right now I am living in a part of Hong Kong called Sheung Wan. It is very international, semi-dense, and highly multicultural. In the past week I have explored Central and Kowloon quite a bit and I have been happily inundated with the sights, scents, and sounds of the city. The people have been kind, the streets shockingly clean, and the air warm and humid. It is a place of activity. No one stands still. Interrupting the flow in a public place by being on your phone is called “phubbing” or “phubbering”. Still, people move politely despite the denseness that everyone talks about when referring to Hong Kong. I still feel that I have my space. HK_Street_02 HK_Street_03 HK_Street_04 HK_Street_05 HK_Street_06 HK_Street_08  HK_Street_10 HK_Street_14 HK_Street_15

市容 CityScape

HK_City_01     1,223 skyscrapers                                                                                                                                  Thirty-six of the world’s 100 tallest residential buildings                                                            More buildings taller than 500 feet [150 m] than any other city                                                    More people in Hong Kong live or work above the 14th floor than anywhere else on Earth,  making it the world’s most vertical city.                                                                                              HK  from my eyes November 2 – 7.HK_City_02 HK_City_03 HK_City_04 HK_City_05 HK_City_06 HK_City_07 HK_City_08 HK_City_09 HK_City_10