Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Travel Photography Hong Kong - Soho & Central

"Who knew that a place as small as Hong Kong could feel so big."

Earlier this year, shortly after the Lunar New Year holiday, (something which prompts a considerable part of east Asia to take off from work for a week to eat food, see family, sit around at home and watch TV) we experienced our first face to face with the streets of Hong Kong.

Some short amount of time after the budget flights, the budget hotels, budget transport and budget travel items were all settled on, our plane touched down at an unmemorable hour in the late afternoon on a Friday in the second half of February. Airport customs, counters with Octopus cards, SIM card shops and train rides later, we were in a district called Central, the financial and (as the name directly says) central district of Hong Kong. On breaking free from the constraints of buildings, trains and plans, and on stepping out onto the streets of Central, the only words that could be found passing through our mind were that “These buildings are really big”.

"I wish I'd brought a 28mm lens. That would have been better. 35 doesn't seem to get enough of this."


Who knew that a place as small as Hong Kong could feel so big. In our youth, we walked amongst the giant redwoods of Northern California. Our teenage years saw us wandering below the financial towers in Portland. And in our twenties, we were carelessly gallivanting in and out of the office towers of Shinjuku, Shibuya and Meguro. But Hong Kong? These were genuine skyscrapers, the kind you see in the movies and on TV. These were the epitome of “big”. 


Hong Kong is a decidedly special place. Not quite Chinese and also not quite British, it’s a fascinating mix of east meets west, modernity meets tradition, and vertical vertical (and even more) vertical. Central has the ability to make you feel incredibly small and insignificant, like a flea staring up from the ground at towering cement blades of grass. And can you guess what? It has the capacity to instill in you a sense perspective which can comes across as deeply significant when and if it happens. It's not every day that a person has the opportunity to feel as though they're the smallest thing on Earth.

Central, HK

While making a person feel deeply insignificant, Central is perhaps most fascinating for the way in which the modern is literally stacked atop the old. You can see this manifested all around you, from how you can be walking on the worn and uneven steps of the historical Pottinger Street, gazing up at the next mega structure being built, to how, perhaps in the absence of horizontal space, you'll often find yourself surrounded by stacks and stacks of this-thats and doo-dads piling up in every alley.

Pottinger Street, HK


A zone within the zone known as Central, Soho left us with a feeling of awe and excitement on discovering it's features. An area that became popular with expats on account of the once relatively cheaper rent and close proximity to the financial districts, Soho can tempt you to question if you're still in Asia or not. With it's pastel primes and light hues of eggshell yolk neatly forming the angular vertical lines jutting out from the ground below, the color pallette might best be described as out of this world, particularly on a sunny, dry day.

Soho, HK


The streets of Soho feel immaculately clean, especially when viewed from above. This perception may be deceptively false, but in so far as the feeling exists, it is genuine. People from every corner of the globe walk the streets of Soho. An international meet and greet, Soho has the unique distinction of featuring what was once the world's longest escalators. Those of physical strength and ambition can ascend Soho without the aid of such machinery, but on a warm day it may be less than advisable.

Soho, HK

The streets of central put you as an ant trapped between dense spires of wealth. The feeling is unique, and in our opinion inspiring and worthy of capture on photograph. Soho on the other hand, thanks largely in part to the escalator system, keeps you as an ant, but sends you climbing, just ever so slightly, into the heavens. Soho still inspires you to look to the heavens. But at the same time, it fills you with the need to look out, to look ahead. Hong Kong, in our opinion, is travel photography at its finest.