28 September 2008

chi lin nunnery

went out to visit a few temples on the outskirts of hong kong --- really cool stuff.  this is the chi lin nunnery, which was built quite recently, but used ancient construction methods.  there's not a nail in the whole building, for instance.  i'll have more detail photos soon.

27 September 2008

downtown hong kong

hong kong makes new land in the city by filling in victoria harbor.  leads to some nice contrast between one of the biggest financial centers of the world, and dirt.

19 September 2008

icff 2008

a few things i liked from the international contemporary furniture fair:

cool, elegant flatpack silverwear.  though, i suppose, chopsticks pack even flatter...

i don't know what it is, but i sure do think it's beautiful.

the form of this lamp might be whatever, but i do like how warm, simple, and elegant it is.  just one led --- and apparently it's rechargeable, no plug.  nice antidote for the leaf lamp cold future.

especially in china: the circle is not the only shape for plates...

17 September 2008

volt strikes

forgive the break from hong kong: this is pretty, significant. though i'm not so sure about chevy's new "let everyone see the car two years before we sell it" plan, it's certainly reassuring, and inspiring, to see how far they've come with the volt. thank god it's not as much of a prius knock-off as the new honda hybrid. still excited to see how this pans out, great success or total failure. love the little details on this thing, especially the lights.


this is macau, from a hill in the center of the island (you can see it larger if you open the picture in another window). macau has the whole range, from new construction and cn tower knockoffs, to stunning(ly-ugly) casino towers and old construction. there's a reason the picture looks smudgy as well --- that's the air pollution blowing in from mainland. today in hong kong, you can hardly see across the bay to hong kong island. it's kind of amazing, in the worst possible way.

15 September 2008

macau construction

this weekend i took a spontaneous trip to macau, the las vegas of china --- only city in the middle country where gambling is legal. however, "city" is a little misleading. macau is actually a giant construction site, and will be a city in five, ten years.

this was one of my favorite pictures, that really illustrates the nature of development in china --- that i've seen so far, anyway. in the foreground are traditional buildings, five stories tall, a vast blanket of weathered textures and colors. those buildings are replaced by the tall tenements, twenty-plus story towers of cheap, small housing, every building the same as the last. finally, in the background, the new monsters that are being built. they are entirely wrapped in green fabric, christo style, and framed by bamboo.

also --- that's not fog, that's air pollution. visibility is two miles, at best.

hong kong loves packaging

how many bags of cereal in a box? bought a box of crackers the other day, there was plastic wrap over the plastic bag over the plastic tray which had small plastic-wrapped 4-cracker bags inside. this is very much the rule in hong kong.

11 September 2008


w.k. would be proud

08 September 2008

night walk: oddities

it's as normal as it gets.  i recommend mango papaya.

the nerve!

special flavor

for the record, they're pretty nasty.

the suck

one of the most profound moments yet of my trip came at a music store in one of hong kong's biggest malls, festival walk.  as i've said --- the mall is nearly exactly the same.  the same brands, the same superficiality, just the same garbage we eat up in america.  the only difference is that malls here build up, not out. 

i listened to some of the current music on sale at this music store.  above is what is, clearly, absolutely, unabashedly, japanese britney spears.  color that background pink, dress her a little more southern, and you're there.  and that's just the album cover.  the music is the same formula, as is the video, which i happened to catch on tv late the other night.  the music is bright, crisp, happy, dance-friendly, but really, most people like the visuals more than the listen.

it got worse.  i moved on and met korean backstreet boys --- same glossy production, same harmonies, same image --- and chinese evanescence.   evanescence!  what is this world coming to that we have to clone evanescence!  i was chilled.  

i did not expect that going to hong kong would be a journey to another planet.  i understand that people are people, the world over, and we all share very similar hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes.  but i really expected some regional difference.  is that so much to ask?  i doubt they listen much to spoon down in alabama, same as i have little patience for the toby keiths of the world.  so why doesn't hong kong have it's own, local, fresh music?  why must our crap be so slavishly copied and consumed?

granted, the music selection was not all faux american teeny boppers.  hong kong seems to have some patience for crooners, and a thing for sugary-sweet canto pop as well.  but you go out to the club, and the dj spins applebottom jeans.  you walk down the street, you see abercrombie shirts.  i knew we loved our cultural shit, but i didn't know that other countries loved it as much as we do.  it's a disease, and i fear it's spreading, and there's little we can do to stop it.  

everyone speaks english.  everyone.  i've met friends, not just from china, but from sweden, the netherlands, germany, austria, finland, denmark, spain, and the language we all have in common, that we all use to communicate, is english.  that's no new observation, clearly, but the visceral impact, first hand, is really powerful.  i really hope that a global language does not portend a global culture, a world without region difference, without place, without variety,  a world where nearly everyone fetishizes the same brands, eats the same junk, listens to, lives, loves, the same. exact. crap.  

lost in translation part two

"we really gotta come up with a name for our restaurant."
"the chicago-americana themed one?"
"how about... oh, what's the name of that shithole mega-highway?"
"you mean the one that cuts through and helped create the southside slums?"
"yes!  that one!  it's perfect!"

06 September 2008

lost in translation

i visited one of the largest malls in hong kong, called festival walk. at first glance, it was exactly the same as an american mall, right down to the store brands. however, we did a little work and started to find some real jewels, like the one below.

we were at a clothing store, the coolest, most local that we could find, a chinese h&m. i spotted a shirt on the wall. it was a hip shirt, with a hip american college on it. what college did they pick, the college among colleges, the classic american college to represent the pinnacle of our celebrated university system?

central fucking michigan university.

poultry training

you know you're in china when subway signs warn against bringing live chickens on the train. runner up is the warning against spitting in the train. the signs do work, the MTR is london tube clean, shames the MTA and CTA.

room with a view

on the other end of the view spectrum... this is the view out my window from the lovely kam chung apartments, on the seventh floor of the building. hong kong is a little rough around the edges. these are no slum apartments, we live very close to downtown, mostly with other families in the apartments. families, in 400 sq foot apartments.

recent hong kong

this is the view from Victoria's Peak at night --- you can see the Batman tower square in the middle of the picture. calling it a beautiful city isn't really fair, it's far more than that. it's a very colorful city, even from this far away.

beyond that, ryan and i have been going to the lan kwai fong district frequently, which i believe translates to old white men trying to get laid district. it was a happening place the first night, but each subsequent visit --- of which there were three --- saw less locals, and more middle-aged british bankers. we've wandered around the local street stalls, ate dim sum and hot pot and all other manner of chinese food. it's been busy, and it's been a blast.

05 September 2008

featured portfolio

my humble portfolio is featured on the coroflot.com main page. fuck yeah.

03 September 2008

woosung street

i've been a little scattered on this thing so far... i'm going to try to update this blog a little more frequently in the days to come. for now --- the above is a picture of the neighborhood right outside my place. i live in the heart of the city, past the financial district, and just past the major shopping and dining center, tsim sha tsui, where most of the other foreigners hang out. it already feels as though i've been here for far longer than a week. soon, hopefully, some of the details will start to emerge.

01 September 2008

strange foods 01

add to the cow's stomach:

-hot mint turtle shell herbal jelly. imagine hot menthol jello with a hint of dirt. that's dessert.
-iced tea with milk and beans. no, not pearl tea. that's what i thought i was getting. no, imagine chili beans instead of tapioca. beans that grow in the ground. imagine iced coffee with a hint of dirt.

sadly, wing-lau says that i can only eat bugs on the mainland.

safe and sound and running around

i haven't been especially good about this so far --- things have been incredibly busy, and incredibly exciting, so far here in hong kong. however, today was the first day of school, and tonight there's some weather rolling in, so tonight might be the first night yet for relaxing.

at any rate: hong kong has entirely surpassed and surprised any of my expectations. after today's first class, which will have more depth, guidance, and conscience than any i've ever had at ccs, a dozen of my new classmates whisked ryan and i away for a proper dim sum lunch, where i established a beachhead on my weird food list with tripe. beyond that, everyone's very friendly and giving. the city is incredible, diverse, rich, very clean, and very, very easy so far.

pictures, more stories, soon.