Saturday, 16 May 2009

Fitness, Chinese Style

R0015166a (Medium) (I was walking past the exercisers and took a snapshot of them with my GX200.  The unintented tilting rightly draws the viewers' attention to the man who is the master.  The image would be bland otherwise)

One of the best thing about walking around town in the morning in Hong Kong is the chance of bumping into people doing exercises in parks.  In huge regional parks or small local parks, there are exercisers in a motley of causal wear enjoying their fitness sessions in diversified forms.  But you've got to be an early bird.  Most of the sessions will finish be half past eight in the morning.

You may see people practising what seems to be Kungfu.  Taichi, maybe.  But not all of them.  Take for example people in the photo above, they were moving in fast actions.  Surely, that wasn't Taichi.  The kernel of the Chinese-style exercises is to regulate the co-ordination of and circulation within the body.

Boxing

A popular Kungfu-like exercise is the Luk Tunk Kuen (LTK), or literally Six Circulation Boxing. It is a form of exercise which comprises of 36 movements involving all parts of the human body with the purpose of promoting circulation of blood and strengthening nerves and muscles. Some movements brighten the eyes, promote coordination, normalize blood pressure and improve memory. The first word “LUK” means six. Six parts of the body are the two arms, two legs, the body and the head. The second word “TUNG” means circulation. The third word “ KUEN” is boxing – the LTK boxing is down with your fists folding your thumb into the palm of your hand and wrapping the other four fingers over the thumb. This positioning of the hand brings power and strength to the movements.

Here is a site which teaches LTK with videos.

Dancing R0012387a (Medium) (I had kept watching the dancing ladies for a while before taking the picture.  I walked quite near them, having asked for the master's permission. It's important to ask for permission if you are going to shoot a group of strangers.  Try the position they are holding and you will see that it takes much practice to do)

The essential elements of Chinese dance are five-fold, namely Appearance, Spirit, Vigour and Rhythm. If a dancer can do the dance with smooth steps and gestures, a wholly focused heart, the right beats and coordinated bodily movements, the dance is considered great. These requirements for Chinese dance turns it into an ideal form of exercises to improve co-ordination of the body parts.

Swordplay

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Don't be alarmed when you see people doing Chinese swordplay in a park.  The swords are heavy as real ones but without bladed sides.  Chinese swordplay as an exercise requires the fencer to manage a quiet heart and skilled movement.   It can be practised in various pace as the fencer can afford.

Next time you are in Hong Kong, get up early and check these exercising people out.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Shop till (His Tears) Drop

R0014073a (Medium) (One of the huge, more explicit kind of outdoor ads in Causeway Bay. The first sight of it reminded me of not an appetite of shopping but-- I beg your pardon -- just some fishy, stinky odour. The tram just whooshed by just in time to made this a beautiful scene too enticing for me not to click on the GX200 shutter. Talking about trams, I should tell some interesting facts about them after I've got good photos of this century-old public transport)

Yesterday, I wrote about the flea markets of my choice in Hong Kong. An Aussie friend of mine, after her fifth visit to Hong Kong, has so far spent in my estimation a grand total of 18 full hours of amassing her plunders in Stanley Market. That coould be a record of a single shopper for Stanley Market.

Luckily, she was crazy about shopping in the flea market only. If it were other upmarket shopping districts, her husband would have gone broke.

R0015078 (Medium) (One of the ostentatious signs showing expensive brandnames along the Canton Road)

Local shopping meccas well-stocked with famed brandnames' items are the Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, the IFC Mall in Central and the Times Square in Wanchai/ Causeway Bay. Canton Road has actually be occupied by the I-have-the-money-to-burn sort of Chinese Mainlanders, who are perpetually lining up outside the grandeur shops for over-priced, machine-made items. But Canton Road leads up to the always festival Tsim Sha Tsui harbour front. So there is still a special quality to Canton Road which entices people to burn money there.

R0014992 (Medium) (Ordinany passers-by are humbled by the godly brandname and the skinny models. And what on earth does a lady buy such a gigantic bag for? Oh, plenty of money for curing shoulder pain too?)

For the IFC Mall, it lacks the open-air sort of carefree feelings. Everything (and everybody?) feels even more pretentious there for that reason maybe. It is not like in Canton Road where the affluent and influential Mainlanders festooned with shopping bags just flaunt their wealth around with loud talks. Alas, there are still polite and more educated Mainlanders, to add a footnote.

Causeway Bay is okay. It is a crowed version though. What's special about it is the mixture of old and new in the district. Take for example, the modern Times Square sits just next to an old outdoor wet market. Oh, in Causeway Bay, there are many things to see and buy other than man's briefs. Just in case you wonder.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Best Shopping in Asia Pacific

R0010540 (Medium)(The flea markets in Hong Kong are mostly along a narrow street flanked by old buildings in busy business areas.  A walk through the flea markets is in itself an experience.  This is the Ladies' Market in Mongkok)

Is Hong Kong still a shopping paradise?  Yes, according to the Global Travel and Tourism Survey R0013268a (Medium)findings just released by CNN.  Hong Kong ranked above all in the Asia Pacific region on tourism categories  of shopping, night life and vibrant city life.

For shopping, Hong Kong can undoubtedly offers you the best experience in the region and even in the whole whorld.

(A tourist wandering in a Fa Yuen Street flea market, overlooked by Winnie the Pooh)

Apart from the ubiquituous first-rate, big shopping malls across the territory, the flea markets give a different experience of shopping which I preferred.  The flea markets are unique in its own right.  They are mostly crowded but systematic, old without being off-putting or smelly.   The flea markets I have been to, in Athens, Paris, the Notting Hill, the Aussie and South East Asian cities, are either too haphazardly crowed, systematically arranged, extremely sparsed apart, in shabby existence.  Those in Hong Kong are not superior.  They are just made with the right mix.  I just like their atmosphere, not least at night.

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The flea markets on my list of recommendation include the Fa Yuen Street flea market (don't miss the flower market and the fish market nearby), the Ladies' Market (best for streetshots) and, the best of all, the Stanley Market (mecca for barflies).  Those along the Fuk Wah Street  in Shamshuipo are rarely known among tourists, but worth a visit too.

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Just in case you are interested, Australia and Japan ranked after Hong Kong for most vibrant city life.

For shopping destinations, Singapore and mainland China are outshore by Hong Kong according to survey results.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Hold on for a Second, Kids!

R0011646 (Medium)(These kids posed for my GX200 without me telling them to hold on.  Read on to know why)

Have you ever heard a frenzy photographer shouting this "tall order" to the permanently evasive kids? Okay, it may at first be spoken as softly as can be.  But either way, by the next minute, the order will get the photographer ridiculed by the fact that the kids are oblivious to him and still running away from his camera.

As evidenced in my experience, there is a very good trick to save the photographer the day, especially where there are many around like the drunken barflies around a bar.

There is an old game for children in Hong Kong having been passed down from generations to generations; well, at least starting from the generations when the traffic light saw, so to speak, the light of the day. 
The game is called, Yet Yee Sam Hung Luk Deng, or literally, One Two Three Traffic Light.  By playing this game with the kids, the photographer can leisurely stand on the same spot and have the kids voluntarily posed for the camera, for as long as the photographer wishes.

This is how:
1) Find a spacious area.  An outdoor place is ideal.

2) Find a wall or some structure safe for the kids to push.

3) The photographer stands turning to the wall (tweak the camera right for the scene before turning, of course)

4) Ask the kids to go as far back as possible from the photographer.

5) Then, the photographer, facing the wall, should chant, “One two three, traffic light.  Four five six, cross it right.”  Make it in a melodic way.  The chant can be paused or repeated at will.  Whenever it is paused, the photographer turns to face the kids.

6) For the kids, while the chant is going on, they should run as fast as they could towards the wall which the photographer is facing.  But when the chant pauses and the photographer turns his face around, the kids must freeze actions.  Otherwise, they lose.  Those who finally make it to the wall are winners.

7) Surely, the photographer must let all the kids win in the end so that they are willing to play for some more rounds.  But before that, the photographer will have lots of chances to take photos of the kids frozen in various forms of gestures, with great smiles of excitement on their faces too.  Just make sure that when playing the game, you chant the last word differently as a signal for the turnabout.  You will want all of them in a ready pose for the shots, won’t you?

It can’t be any easier for a photographer in dealing with a flock of restless kids.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Fretted without Fuming

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This post is devoted to a real hero. He is Mr Man.

For all the troubles coming to his ways and the stress of the family, the children, the in-laws and people around him, he does not budge a bit, at least on the surface. But he does not get muddled about letting out his emotion in private, I'm sure.

He is a quick witted person filled with stamina. Any other person will either get depressed or become mental in his situation.

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If there is one prayer I can say for him, let him be out of the harm's way this minute.

Life is far from what we can fathom.

You don't know him. But you may give your good wishes or say a prayer for him and his family, this minute.

Sucked and Stuck

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"Hey, help! It is sucking me it 'privately'.  This really sucks and I'm very stuck!" the man cries.

"Oh, man, hang on! I'm pulling you out!"

Taken with a G10.  Have a nice day!