For smartphone-wielding hordes of tourists, Hong Kong boasts a host of must-have Instagram locations — but crowds of snap-happy travelers are testing local patience and transforming once quaint pockets of the bustling metropolis.
Tony Hui recalls how elderly residents always used to play cards in a courtyard in the middle of the densely packed housing block where he owns a dry cleaning store.
The buildings in Hong Kong’s Quarry Bay are one of the city’s best known residential complexes, famed for tightly-knit apartments towering above three sides of a thin courtyard.
But in recent years, daily throngs of tourists have relegated the card players to a dark corner of the courtyard.
“You might say the elderly have made way for the photo takers’ convenience, to not get in their way,” Hui concedes.
While the building had long been a draw for street photographers and architecture enthusiasts, social media has helped turn it into a mass tourist attraction, fueled by it featuring as a location in a recent Transformers blockbuster and the remake of the Japanese manga classic Ghost in the Shell.
A sign warning against shooting photos and disturbing residents has done little to deter the chic travelers who usually form an orderly line to wait for a coveted spot in the middle of symmetrical blocks.
A high-end cafe opened in November to cater to this new market — its sleek interiors and bright lighting a stark contrast to the more humble-looking neighborhood shops and the public housing towers above.
Other Instagram hotspots have proven more chaotic.
A mural by local graffiti artist Alex Croft featuring rows of tenement houses draws a constant stream of tourists to the steeply sloping Graham Street in downtown Central district.
Taxis and cars honk restlessly as the tourists — mostly from China, South Korea and Taiwan, but also western nations — spill into the road to get their ideal frame seemingly oblivious to the safety issues.
Park Tae and Hwang Seung-min from South Korea had only seen the wall free of interlopers in carefully composed photos on their Instagram feeds so were surprised the street was so busy in real life.
“I was taken aback as I didn’t expect the crowds, but it’s good for taking photos,” Park says.
For some shops, this foot traffic brings new business: there are queues outside a famous egg tart store and a dumpling house nearby, as snappers stop to refuel.
But Toby Cooper who runs popular pub The Globe which sits directly opposite the mural, says the sheer number of people loitering on the road is a safety issue.
“We have seen a few people hit by cars and vans on Graham but they tend to be the instagrammers who are transfixed on taking photos,” he explains.
“Their saving grace is the sharp corner — vehicles entering Graham Street are going slowly. As far as I’m aware, none of my customers have been hit by cars, yet.”
Hong Kong’s unique urban aesthetics — especially its public housing estates — have proved enormously popular to social media obsessives. Critics say the crowds help romanticize poverty, sharing images that provide only a shallow view of what it is to live in the one of the world’s most unaffordable property markets.
Across the harbor tourists and some locals have taken over the basketball courts surrounded by the now iconic rainbow-colored housing estate in the Choi Hung district, which means rainbow in Cantonese.
It is where Korean boy band Seventeen shot a music video and is now being promoted by the government’s tourism bureau.
Local resident Chow Keung, a 72-year-old kung fu master, is fairly sanguine about the visitors as he watches them from a bench.
“Many people have asked me how to get here and I give them directions, I don’t mind... but I’ve had to ask some tourists not to leave their trash behind,” he sighs.
A man surnamed Liu recalls a bygone era when children actually rode scooters and freely played basketball on the courts.
Today’s teens have to navigate the groups of photographers as they play. One 14-year-old resident, who gave his name as Yik, says he now fears racking up a bill when he shoots hoops.
He adds: “I once accidentally hit someone’s phone.”
Until this summer, when the idea of hiking the length of the island first occurred to me, I didn’t even know that Cijin (旗津) had been a peninsula until 1967. That’s when diggers and dredgers severed Cijin from Taiwan’s “mainland,” because the authorities wished to create a southern entrance to Kaohsiung’s fast expanding port. The island is just under 9km long, but a bit of research quickly convinced me that a south-to-north trek wasn’t a good idea. The southern third of Cijin is dominated by container-lifting cranes, warehouses and other facilities off-limits to the public. Dunhe Street (敦和街) forms the boundary between
Sept. 28 to Oct . 4 A large number of 3000-year-old slate coffins were unearthed on a hill near Nanhe Village (南和村) in Pingtung County on Sept. 30, 1985. Unfortunately, the United Daily News (聯合報) noted that they had been seriously damaged by construction, and no artifacts or human remains were found. Although the newspaper called the find a “significant discovery,” little information can be gleaned about this specific site because it’s just one of countless locations where stone sarcophagi have been unearthed across southern and eastern Taiwan, and as north as Yilan County. These stone receptacles for the dead were
As if the climbs and views and snacks and companions of cycling in Taiwan aren’t sufficient, the GPS-generation of route-planners are now using apps such as Strava and Endomondo to create works of art as they ride. One such is nicknamed the Dove Road of Sijhih (汐鴿路), a 25km ride that follows the riverside bike path from the Nangang-Neihu Bridge (南湖橋) to New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止), climbs around 400m up the Sijhih-Shiding Road (汐碇路), before dropping back down past Academia Sinica to generate a very dove-like pattern. Originally called Kippanas by indigenous Ketagalan people and transliterated into Hoklo (more commonly
Sitting at the bar, martini in hand, Kristin Scott Thomas rolls her eyes briefly heavenwards. And then she declares, in one of the most memorable monologues of the cult BBC drama Fleabag, that menopause is the “most wonderful fucking thing in the world. And yes, your entire pelvic floor crumbles and you get fucking hot and no one cares. But then — you’re free! No longer a slave, no longer a machine with parts. You’re just a person, in business.” When an entranced Fleabag says she has been told the whole thing is horrendous, Scott Thomas’s character responds: “It is horrendous,