Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hong Kong Diary Day 22 Hollywood Road (Antique Street)

Hello, we go to China today! Let's continue with our visit to Hollywood Road in Hong Kong, more commonly known as Antique Street. After stumbling upon a very untidy junk shop in last week's post, it was quite a relief when we found this stall selling Mao memorabilia, there were posters...... and pins and more posters, plus numerous more images of Chairman Mao printed in every size imaginable. I did not recall seeing so many of Mao Zedong's images when we were in mainland China, the only place we witnessed such items was in Wangfujing.
Mesmerized by the variety of vintage goods, I strolled past slowly only to turn around and noticed a poster of a Chinese Emperor. It hung at the very end on the left in the photo below, it looked like a portrait painting from Chinese Imperial times, nestled amongst the revolutionary merchandise it seemed out of place.
Walking along we observed there were also funky looking movie posters, starring Bruce Lee amongst other Asian stars. I did not recognize any of them except for the martial arts instructor himself, although I was delighted to see them on display.
More kung fu posters advertising action packed themes, we were enjoying the awkward composition of the images and type, and could only imagine the chaotic scenes as one character flies towards the other in the moment of fury or revenge. They brought back good childhood memories of my dad taking us to see the latest martial arts adventure.
I began to notice the row shops selling more expensive antiques on the sidewalk. Imprisoned behind lighted glass shelves were collector's items from various dynasties, whereas more affordable goods of teapots and jade pieces were displayed out in the open.
A close up of a shop's display, some lovely looking hand painted blue and white vases on the top row, intricately carved wooden sculptures amidst glazed porcelain. All crowded together they all demanded equal attention, which one should I bring home I did not know.
A corner stall that sold wooden plaques bearing auspicious Chinese characters, bronze statues of Buddha, Chinese knotting made of silk yarns, all kinds of trinkets the list went on... and then there were the swords.
A wonderful array of door handles, shiny or antique bronze, available in all styles and sizes. Before our China trip I had seen some in Vancouver's Chinatown but these were more exquisite in design and much finer in craftsmanship.
We continue to wander along, then in the middle of the street sitting atop a plastic container were these lotus slippers, their bright colors and pretty embroidery a reminder of a cruel and painful practice on Chinese women called foot binding.
One last shot down Antique Street, we could go on but there were too many shops and other places to visit that afternoon.
Before we left we noted there were stores that did not sell antiques on Antique Street. This one below a machinery shop that manufactured small parts, on the brown wooden board was a diagram in chalk of how the item operated, it had been a while since I seen one of these shops.
Below a trolley production business, any kind you want from small ones with cute wheels to big ones designed for heavy duty performance.
As usual in a typical Hong Kong neighborhood there was the little noodle shop tucked in between merchandise stalls.
On the edge of the district there was also a primary school, I love the different pastel colors for each floor.
Also located nearby was the quintessential hi-rise throughout our visit in Hong Kong.
However there was also the older residential low-rise. As we got into the car, Peter pointed out the decorative brushstrokes on the window, white paint in wavelike motion encompassed a double happiness Chinese character, could this be the newlyweds first home? On this joyous note we drove off to the next destination, to be disclosed next week!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hong Kong Postcard Day 22 On the way to Hollywood Road (Antique Street)

Hello Thursday! Welcome to another episode of our China trip! Last week we visited Repulse Bay and went to prison, this week we are free to roam through Hong Kong again. Our personal guide Peter recommended the antique district on Hollywood Road, a new destination for us, with speculating comments we drove on inching through the traffic jam...... passing through the shopping district of shiny buildings. I did not recognize the area nor did I know where we were, we placed our trust in Peter's driving, who steered ahead ever so carefully.
The glitzy structures gradually turned into more residential developments, they were less shiny, with each window accompanied by an air conditioner.
Coming out of the congestion, the car motored down the street freely, in the distance monotonous looking hi-rise loomed ahead.
More gargantuan erections, I guess Hong Kong is full of them wherever you go, it appeared the area was 100% residences, no shops were in sight.
Bright yellow fences and signs by the road indicating a construction work area, blue and white arrows instructed drivers to move to the left, we drove on carefully...
... and the lane led us back into the busy street again. Green netting covered the tall building on the right, in Vancouver this would denote a leaky condo, would this be the case in Hong Kong?
We began to loose interest in the traffic, I turned my attention to the shops, this little one below selling fruit, tended with care by an elderly couple it stood in its corner, neat and tidy.
Turning around a corner, in front of a small cafe displaying signs of noodle, congee and rice dishes, an old man was seen pulling a heavy basket behind him.
As we continued towards the antique district, the sidewalk came alive with everyday activity, a man walked by a BBQ meat shop as he chatted on his cell. As I looked at this picture the thought crossed my mind man did those poultry ever looked delicious.
We followed and observed him until we all came to a stop at the lights.
As the pedestrians walked on, I turned my attention to this produce shop below, situated at a prime location it was filled with all kinds of vegetables from corner to corner. It instantly reminded me of the neighborhood wet market we used to visit in Singapore, fresh greens would be bargained for on a daily basis, brought home to be cleaned and cooked hastily on a wok for dinner.
The road came to an end and Peter parked the car. In just a few steps we came to this sign that pointed to all kinds of destinations, the one we were looking for was Hollywood Road, Peter pointed out the street went quite a ways so we began our little hike.
On the edge of the antique quarter, the shop in red looked prestigious and authentic.
I could not help but looked up the street, it looked like this could be an interesting stopover.
A stone's throw away, a very disorganized looking shop named Luk Kee, now I don't know much about antiques but this appeared to be a thrift store full of junk! Let's hope the rest of the shops don't look like this, next week our China journey continues on Antique Street, be sure to stay tuned!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hong Kong Journal Day 22 Repulse Bay and Prison

Yep you read that right, we are going to prison on Day 22 of our China trip! No... do not scroll down, there will be no cheating so let's head on over to Repulse Bay in Hong Kong, another one of Peter's suggestions. Below the sign that greeted us by the entrance: no kite flying, no cycling, no fishing, no dogs allowed, no ball games, no frisbee... no every other thing that a normal person would associate with beach activities, this seemed very interesting.Just a few steps onto the soft sand revealed there were few visitors on the beach. It was the Fall season at the time, the weather was still warm in Hong Kong, the wind carried a slight salty breeze, it was lovely under the shady canopy. After 3 weeks of traveling through China and walking amidst crowd after crowd, I remembered I was quite delighted to have a quiet moment and thankful to have the beach to ourselves.
Walking out towards the ocean, I decided to turn around and could not help notice the buildings behind us, there was quite a few of them.
Turning to the left, more apartment buildings surrounding the beach front, it was mentioned the waterfront property was one of the most expensive in Hong Kong.
Peter and David pointed out the famous building with the hole, this was done so the dragons from the mountains could have a drink of water from the ocean so the feng shui master said. Never mind feng shui, I thought this was a show of architecture genius. This was also a chance to participate in the surrounding beauty, the hole was a window of the water from the hills, or a view of the mountains from the beach.
The camera zoomed out to capture the neighboring structures, despite the size and height their pastel colors blended nicely with the nature nearby, it all looked quite pleasant together.
Off into the distant, more muted colored buildings made even more subtle that cloudy afternoon, the one on the very right had noticeable swooping lines.
The lifeguard station caught my attention, I like its spiral staircase but where was the lifeguard?
We spent quite a bit of time on the sand, David and Peter went off visiting, I was engrossed with the little shells so tiny many would not have noticed their black or red colors. But it was time to move on as we had other places to go, Peter called out to me which led my eye to this lonely kayak, I guess kayaking must have been one of the approved activities on the water.
One last shot of the beachfront homes before catching up with the guys to...
... the temple that was located on the other end of the shoreline. Colorful tiles on the staircase led to brightly colored statues, the scent of incense was in the air.
The steps also led downwards to this bridge by the water, what wonderful red! It stood out amongst the delightful shades of the pagoda.
There was some statues of animal forms on the pier, I recognized a goat with horns, I think there was a fish creature of some sort too, what were their significance, was this a Taoist temple?
With unanswered questions we left Repulse Bay for another destination, along the way Peter pointed out we would pass by a prison. Fortunately for us the car was stuck in a traffic jam and I was free to snap away with the camera, the first photo a sign on the prison wall.
Below the front entrance of the lockup, it looked formidable, were the walls as thick as the ones around this doorway?
Driving along the prison walls in slow motion amidst the congestion, I was surprised vehicles were allowed this much proximity to the enclosure.
A peak upwards at the jailhouses, were those windows of the cells or administrative offices?
A closer look revealed some glass panes were missing.
The window design on this wall appeared colonial, the walls had a depressing yellow tone, I wonder what crimes were committed to warrant such imprisonment?

Driving on we realized the prison was situated amongst buildings of offices, shopping centres and residences, could this be a low security correctional facility, it seemed a strange location would there not be all kinds of places to hide or catch a ride?

Next week the China adventure continues with our personal guide Peter from Hong Kong, a different location so stay tuned!