Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong, is something to behold at night. Hong Kong Island is a sea of lights, reflecting off the water. The Hong Kong Star Ferry makes its way across the harbor, again and again, in the neon-tinted darkness.
You could call this “Caught in the Act.” I was roaming through Chiang Mai, Thailand, on a cloudy morning when the boy monks at one of the city’s numerous wats were called to prayer. As I started snapping through the carved archway this lad turned around.
I seem to have an affinity for urban monks. Maybe it’s how out of place, yet not out of place, they seem.
The streets of Hong Kong Mongkok are a little slow as the sun rises on the east, from the east. Mongkok, the area of Kowloon known for retail deals and entertainment, rise as late as it stays up. The backpackers, huddled in cheap guest houses, get a late start on the day, the karaoke bars and lounges the main culprits. Street cleaners banish the mess left by the merrymakers while newsstands and hole-in-the-wall restaurants wait for the rush that will come as the district wakes.
Mongkok is listed by the Guiness Book of World Records as having the highest population density in the world: An estimated 130,000 people per square kilometer. A walk down Argyle Street or Nathan Road on a balmy summer evening is testament to the record. The streets are a seething sea of bodies, returning home, shopping, or out for a stroll. It’s an experience, one many people, even big city veterans, don’t try twice.
The Mongkok area is home to numerous markets, slaking the commerical thirst of travelers and tourists. The Temple Street Night Market, the Goldfish Market, the Flower Market, and Fa Yuen Street (translated: Sport Shoes Street) all do brisk trade – when they eventually open.
Guangzhou China, formerly known as Canton, the capital of Guangdong province, China, was once a hotbed of revolution. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, considered the father of modern China, led an uprising in 1911 that became the beginning of the end of the Qing Dynasty.
The Chinese Communist Party captured Guangzhou briefly from the KMT Government (Kuomingtang) during a 1927 revolt. This uprising resulted in the slaughter of 5,000 Communist soldiers and peasants at the hands of the KMT and the disappearance of an estimated 5000 more.
The above bridge sit in front of the Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum, in Guangzhou. This building witnessed the 1911 revolutionaries claim independence, and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen sworn in as the first president of China in 1921. It is part of Martyrs Park, the burial ground of the 5000 killed in the 1927 revolt.
Given the bloodshed it is a peaceful place, massive trees covering the bridge and water.
Guangzhou China, Guangdong Province: One of the largest cities in China, and home to kings, rebellion, and martyrs. The city traces its beginnings to 214 BCE, and has been constantly inhabited.
The Pearl River, (Zhu Jiang, 珠江), the runs through Guangzhou, and has brought explorers, traders, and pirates. After the first opium war, Guangzhou was made a treaty port, allowing French and British traders to set up shop.
Below Pottinger Peak, with misty Mount Parker in the distance, is The Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, on Hong Kong Island. Cape Collision Road, near Chai Wan, is home to seven cemeteries: Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Sihks, fallen soldiers, and those not buried on consecrated ground, rest within walking distance of each other. Cape Collision Road is also home to two correction institutions.
Heng Fa Chuen, next to Chai Wan on Hong Kong Island’s northeast shore is home to Lei Yun Mun Fort and the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence. It was this fort that valiantly tried to stop the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong Island in December 1941. The fort fell on December 19. Many of its defenders are buried at the nearby Sai Wan War Cemetery.
For more than 400 years Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand. The Burmese army sacked and destroyed the city in the late 1700s. The remnants of the palace and countless wats (Thai temples) sat decaying for two centuries. The locals, who had established a new town a few kilometers away, were afraid of the ruins and the ghosts they held.
Ayutthaya is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ruins form Ayutthaya Historical Park. The ruins make a great day trip from Bangkok and are easily accessible by organized tour or train.
A candle for Tianhou, the Mother of Heaven, and Goddess of the Sea, from a temple in Shenzhen China. While the following information is related to Buddhism, and Tianhou is part of the Taoist pantheon, the symbolism is probably the same:
Candles are a traditional part of Buddhist ritual observances. Along with incense and flowers, candles (or some other type of light source, such as butter lamps) are placed before Buddhist shrines or images of the Buddha as a show of respect. They may also be accompanied by offerings of food and drink. The light of the candles is described as representing the light of the Buddha’s teachings, echoing the metaphor of light used in various Buddhist scriptures.